Fall is the time to prepare your house with winter home maintenance tasks. Although sparkling icicles and fluffy snow may be gorgeous to look at, they can wreak havoc on your home and property. If you are like many homeowners, you may not be aware of everything that needs to be done to keep your home in top shape throughout the winter.
The Importance of Winter Home Maintenance
There are a lot of home maintenance tasks that are easily forgotten until they result in major damage to your home or property. From wood deck waterproofing, to winterizing your pipes, here are 9 of the most important things to take care of this fall.
#1 Check for Dead Tree Limbs
The first winter home maintenance task should be to clear out your trees. Check your trees for any dead tree limbs and remove them as soon as possible. If you have dead limbs, now is the time to get rid of them. Big snowfalls can put a lot of weight on tree limbs, making them more likely to break because of the weight. This can be especially dangerous if it is a large tree limb or one that is located within reach of your house. Performing regular tree maintenance and care during the fall should prevent tree branches from falling in the winter.
#2 Inspect and Clean Your Fireplace or Wood Stove
Wood stoves and fireplaces that are not properly cared for can cause fires and pose a carbon monoxide risk inside your home. Therefore, examine your fireplace door gasket for a tight seal. In addition, inspect and clean the glass door for cracks. Lastly, have a licensed chimney sweep clean your fireplace. Regular cleaning is essential for wood burning wood stoves and fireplaces as a buildup of creosote in your chimney can cause a house fire.
#3 Make Sure That You Are Prepared for a Disaster
Many people do not think about winter home maintenance, but being prepared in the event of a big blizzard can literally save your life. Even small storms can knock the power out for days leaving you with no heat. A disaster kit is essential for every single household. Make sure that you stock it with essential supplies that you need to keep going in an emergency. Include a first aid kit, plenty of water, a three-day supply of non-perishable food and essential medications for all members of your household. If anyone in your household has chronic diseases like diabetes or asthma, make sure you stock a supply of three days worth of medications. Every year, check your disaster kit to throw away any items that have perished or add new items that you might need.
#4 Check Your Attic Insulation
Most homeowners do not think about their attic insulation but adequate attic insulation is the key to savings and comfort. Attic insulation can cut your heating bills by up to 10 percent, according to Energy Star. Not having the right insulation in your attic can lead to ice dams, as well. Ice dams form when the edge of your home’s roof is colder than the upper part. The melted snow backs up behind a dam. This really can be a nightmare, causing permanent damage to your home and roof. Therefore, check your insulation level. You can do this by looking across the span of your attic. If your insulation is below your floor joists or just level with them, you should consider adding more insulation.
#5 Wood Deck Waterproofing
Before it turns too cold, clean and protect your deck. This will prepare it for the long winter ahead. Seasonal changes can cause a lot of damage to decks. Moisture from sleet and snow can be especially damaging. Deck waterproofing is another winter home maintenance task that can help ensure that your deck survives the brutal weather. A contractor that does deck waterproofing can help you properly winterize your deck.
#6 Insulate Pipes in Unheated Areas of Your Home
Freezing temperatures can cause plumbing pipes to burst and flood your home. This can result in significant water damage to your home. Take preventative measures now, before winter sets in, to help you reduce the chance of your pipes freezing. Many homeowners have pipes in unheated areas of their home and do not think to check to make sure that they are insulated. Pipes that are located in your attic, garage and crawl space are all at risk of freezing. Therefore, purchase inexpensive pipe insulation at your local hardware store and insulate these pipes. If you live in an extremely cold climate, consider wrapping the pipes with thermostatically controlled heat tape. It is more expensive but will protect your pipes from freezing and causing significantly more money in repairs.
#7 Caulk Around Doors and Windows
To help save money on heating this winter, apply exterior caulk to doors and window frames if there are gaps bigger than the width of a nickel. It is best to use silicone caulk as it will not shrink and holds up well to the brutal winter weather. In addition, add weather-stripping around doors, as needed. Make sure that you cannot see any daylight from inside your house.
#8 Disconnect Garden Hoses and Insulate Exterior Faucets
Freezing temperatures can cause outdoor pipes to freeze. Leaving your garden hose connected in the winter can cause ice to form and build up inside water lines in your home. This can cause a water line break and significant damage to your home. Therefore, disconnect and store all garden hoses for the winter. In addition, install an insulated faucet jacket to protect outdoor faucets and water lines running into your home.
#9 Properly Store Your Lawn Mower
Fuel that remains in your mower’s engine throughout the winter will decompose and varnish the engine. Therefore, the last winter home maintenance task is storing your lawn mower – correctly. This will make it difficult to start your mower in the springtime. You can run your mower outdoors until all of the fuel is gone. Alternatively, you can add a fuel stabilizer to keep your fuel fresh. Fill the tank up with stabilized fuel and run the engine outdoors for a little while to circulate the fuel.