Winter is tough on homes — piling snow, freezing pipes and overworked heating systems can lead to huge headaches and even bigger bills. With temperatures reaching new record lows across the country, proper routine maintenance is more important than ever. Follow this winter maintenance checklist to start the new year on the right foot.
If you have a day or two...
Winter Home Care Tips for the Weekend Warrior
- Check the Seals on Your Windows and Doors
One drafty window can significantly lower the temperature of your home. Go through each room and open and close the windows and doors. Do you notice a gap between seals or feel cold air coming in? Inspect and replace worn out weather stripping, caulk any gaps between the exterior trim and doorframe, and replace the threshold gasket or install a door sweep if you feel air coming from under the door to help weatherproof your home.
- Clean the Gutters
Clogged or damaged gutters can lead to a small leak at best and an eroded foundation or roof collapse at worst. Grab a ladder and clear the troughs of built-up leaves and debris. Use the hose to run water through the channels to identify leaks.
- Inspect the Roof
While you have your ladder out, check the roof, too. Inspect the seals around vents and the chimney and check for loose or missing shingles or any indication the roof is in need of repair.
- Trim the Trees
Before winter storms ramp up, trim any large branches or tree limbs hanging over your home. After each snowfall, remove heavy snow as soon as is safe. Shaking can compromise already brittle limbs, so use a broom or brush.
- Prepare Your Entryways
Ensure steps, handrails and walkways leading up to your home are secure and safe in icy or wet conditions. Place a mat inside and outside exterior doors to collect water, ice and mud.
- Get More Life Out of Your Water Heater
Many manufacturers set water heater thermostats to 140 degrees, but 120 is just fine for home use. Switch the temperature to save on heating costs and extend the life expectancy of your water heater.
- Shelter Outdoor Belongings
Gather up outdoor furniture and décor and store it in the garage, basement or shed. If the furniture is too heavy or large to move, remove the cushions and cover with a tarp. Bonus points if you clean off dust and dirt before you put everything away. (You’ll thank yourself come spring!)
- Wrap Water Pipes
Frozen pipes can add up to thousands of dollars in damage and repair costs. If you live in a cold climate, protect pipes that are exposed to severe weather or that run through an unheated part of your home, like the basement, with pipe insulation.
- Protect AC Units
Remove and store any in-window air conditioning (AC) units. Central air conditioning units are built to withstanding the elements, but icicles or snow can cause real damage. Don’t spend money on an expensive cover. Instead, cover your AC unit with a sheet of plywood held down by bricks.
If you only have an hour...
Small Winter Home Care Tasks with Big Impact
- Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
Change the direction your fan blades spin to force hot air down. Reverse the motor using your fan’s remote control or by flipping the switch on the fan itself. Run your ceiling fans on low, and your home will be noticeably warmer.
- Set the Thermostat
Program your thermostat as low as is comfortable — but don’t let the temperate inside fall below 55 degrees. Anything colder puts your pipes at risk of freezing. Keeping the temperature a few degrees cooler during the winter can also help you save on energy costs.
- Eliminate Fire Hazards
Working fireplaces need annual maintenance. Call in a certified chimney sweep to clear your fireplace of creosote buildup (if yours is wood burning) and debris like leaves and nests. And if you don’t already have one, this is a good time to create a fire escape plan for your house.
- Keep Warm Air In
Keep the flue lever turned so your chimney is closed and close up the doors across your fireplace (if you have them). Otherwise, you’re throwing away money to heat the outside air.
- Give Your Pipes a Break
Shut off water to exterior faucets and drain the lines. Remove and a store garden hoses for the season.
- Service Smoke Detectors and Alarms
Nearly half of the more than 52,000 heating-related fires each year occur in December, January and February, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Now is the time to ensure your fire and carbon monoxide detectors and alarms are working properly. Test each alarm or detector and replace the batteries.
- Check Your Emergency Supplies
Winter storms can knock out power, which is especially dangerous in freezing temperatures. Stock up on first aid supplies, bottled water, canned food, flashlights and batteries.
- Keep Your Home Protected
Even if you complete this winter maintenance checklist, harsh weather can take its toll. We provide backup solutions to help you rest easy. Home and property insurance from Farm Bureau Financial Services will help make sure your home and family are protected.
Make sure to connect with your local Farm Bureau agent today to discuss any other questions you may have.