10 Home Maintenance Tasks to Check Off Your To-Do List Before Winter

Excerpts from U.S. News & World Report – Money By Mady Dahlstrom, 12/02/2016

  1. Test all alarms and detectors. Check the batteries in your smoke alarms and test any carbon monoxide detectors or security alarm systems. House fires and heater malfunctions are common in winter, and it’s imperative for your safety that all detectors are working properly. A quick check on each system will bring peace of mind in the case of any fires or holiday break-ins.
  2. Check for fire extinguishers. Make sure your kitchen is stocked with at least one working fire extinguisher to control any small fires that may occur while cooking your holiday meals.
  3. Stock up on firewood. Prepare for a hard winter by stocking up on firewood early, if you have a wood-burning fireplace. If you use a fireplace often during the winter, you’ll want to have enough firewood to last you all season long. Choose seasoned hardwood like oak or maple for a slow-burning and hot fire.
  4. Untangle and test holiday lights. If you plan on putting up holiday lights this season, it’s important to test and inspect all light strands. Prep your holiday lights by safely untangling each strand. Be sure to plug in all lights and check that all bulbs are lit, intact and in good working order.
  5. Check your gutters. Are your gutters clear of leaves, debris and ice dams or icicles? Cleaning and inspecting your gutters before winter weather hits will prevent any potential damage. Without proper care, loaded-down gutters can pull away from the side of your house, or lead to leaks and water damage as water gets under the roof shingles when ice damming occurs. Hire a gutter cleaning service or gutter contractor for a thorough inspection.
  6. Save on heating costs. If you’re worried about racking up heating costs over the winter, try cutting costs with a few simple tricks. Try reversing the ceiling fan, adding weatherstripping to block drafts from doors and windows or lay down rugs to add an extra layer of warmth to your floors.
  7. Prep for snow removal. Make sure you have shovels, de-icers, snow blowers and other ice-melting products before any serious snowfall. Know where everything is located, and have plenty of gas for any snow blowers or other automated tools to help you clear snow during a storm.
  8. Clean your air filters. You’ll want to check your cooling and heating systems before the worst parts of winter to ensure all air filters are clean. Dirty air filters can result in a decrease in indoor air quality and efficiency, ultimately damaging your heating and cooling systems. It’s best to be proactive to avoid a heater malfunction during a snow storm or deep freeze that could lead to other problems in your home, like freezing pipes.
  9. Store outdoor water hoses. Store your water hose for winter by turning the spigot off, unhooking the hose and removing any attachments. Next, drain your hose, coil it up and store in your garage or shed.
  10. Cover outdoor furniture and grill. Properly store your outdoor items by packing up your patio furniture that can be placed in the garage, along with any umbrellas and chairs. By keeping your outdoor furniture out of the winter elements, it’ll be in better shape once spring comes, and you’re less likely to have to replace pieces every couple of years. For larger outdoor items, such as grills and tables, purchase protective covers to keep safe during harsh winter weather.