Annual Home Maintenance for the Winter Season

Annual home maintenance is something that no homeowner, or even those who rent, should neglect. Taking care of tasks such as regular septic tank pumping is important throughout the year, but there are certain maintenance jobs that should be specifically done before the colder months of the year roll in.

This article will list all the maintenance you need to do so you can be sure you and your home are prepared for winter, no matter how cold it gets.

Check Your Home’s Heating System

One of the first steps in annual home maintenance has to be taking care of your house’s heating system. It’s what’s going to keep you warm and if it doesn’t work as it should, you’ll be left cold and frustrated. Plus, it’s very likely that you could end up paying more for this kind of maintenance if it’s done during the winter.

You should call in a professional to come and inspect your home’s heating system, especially before the winter’s first big snowstorm rears its icy head. Do this every year without fail and your system will serve you well and for many years.

If you have a gas furnace, it’s important that you have your vent system checked for possible blockages or leaks. You should replace the filter as well if you haven’t done so in the past six months. The hoses and draining systems must be inspected as well to make sure there are no leaks.

If your home’s heating system consists of a boiler, you should do monthly checks for leakages, and you should definitely do an inspection before the winter arrives. The venting system, wiring, and heat exchanger must be looked at as well.

Heat pumps require that you ensure that the outdoor unit is free from snow, debris, and leaves. If there are shrubs or greenery nearby, trim it to ensure it’s at the very least 18 inches away.

Check That There are no Heat Leaks

After checking your home’s heating system, you should also make sure that there are no other leaks that could lead to a loss of heat. For example, the heated air can escape through faulty weather stripping around windows and cracks under your doors.

It is for this reason that you inspect your walls and ceiling to ensure that there aren’t any openings or cracks that will let the heated air out, making you pay more for heating in the end.

If you have any recessed wiring, plumbing, or lights, it would be a good idea to get some specialty spray foam to seal the gaps that have formed. And if you have a basement, you should take extra care and look for holes made by pipe and vent installations. The heat can easily escape here.

Clean Your Chimney

Chimney inspections should definitely be part of annual home maintenance, and if you haven’t cleaned your chimney in a while, you had better do so before the chilly hands of winter make it very difficult.

You should rope in the help of a professional chimney repair company if you suspect that anything is amiss with your chimney. Failing to take care of your chimney can actually lead to roofing problems! Cracked edges and chimney fires can damage the rest of your house, especially your roof.

You should make sure there is no build-up of soot in your chimney and that birds didn’t leave their nest at the top, causing a dangerous blockage. When you’ve taken care of this kind of maintenance, you can enjoy hot cups of coffee in front of the fire with no fear of fires or other damage.

Give the Gutters a Good Clean

Most of us know that cleaning the gutters is a part of important annual home maintenance, even if it’s really a pain in the behind to take care of. This is especially crucial if you have trees close to your home that will lead to a build-up of debris and leaves in your gutters.

Heavy rains can also cause problems if your gutters aren’t clean because the water can’t be directed properly, leading to damage to your home.

Although this is a task you can take care of yourself, it’s always best to hire a professional to come and clean your gutters. They have all the right tools and know how to clean up safely.

If you have a residential awning, you should take this opportunity to get it nice and clean as well to ensure it doesn’t get damaged by the same build-up of leaves and debris that affects your gutters.

Take Care of All Your Trees

If you have trees in your yard that enhance the beauty of your home and form part of well-planned landscaping, you should take extra care of them before fall turns to winter. The harsh winter weather can do a number on your plants and trees, unfortunately.

You should check for trouble spots like trees that lean to one side and rotted branches. Calling in an arborist to trim back the larger trees near your home or powerlines is a very good idea. It might even be necessary to remove a tree or at least cut off large branches that might die by the end of winter.

Failing to take these precautions can lead to major damage if a storm causes branches to fall off on top of your home or vehicles, or people.

Inspect and Seal Your Doors and Windows

Proper insulation should be checked as part of your annual home maintenance, especially before the coldest season of the year. There are many little gaps and holes that can cause heat to escape and cold air to make its way into your home.

Ensuring that your home’s windows and doors are sealed and properly insulated will save you a lot of money on heating and keep everyone inside snuggly warm. You should inspect the caulk around your door frames and reapply if necessary.

If you don’t have time to inspect your windows and seal them nicely, you may want to call in a window replacement service or a company that specializes in home insulation. The same goes for your doors, where even the smallest gap can change the interior temperatures

Check Your Foundation

The cold winter months can be quite tough on your home’s foundation. The cold temperatures cause the soil to shrink and contract, which makes it possible for the foundation to shift and settle. This can lead to damage in the form of cracks, which can, in turn, lead to an opening for water and pests.

Neither this water nor pests are welcome in the home and that’s something you have to try and avoid. Keep in mind that snow and ice can melt and leak into your home through the cracks in your foundation. This situation can lead to mildew, wood rot, and mold, as well as damage to your property in your basement.

It is for these reasons that foundation repairs are important, and they should be part of your annual home maintenance checklist.

Check for Ice Dams

Although this is more of a maintenance point to check for during the winter, it’s so important that it must be mentioned before the cold weather starts so you don’t forget.

If ice has accumulated on your roof, it can form a dam that can damage your gutters, your home’s siding, and the shingles. As a result, water will leak into your house, and this will lead to a myriad of problems for your floors, your insulation, and even your walls. You may even end up needing to call professionals such as a flooring company to help you deal with the damage, which can be very costly.

Be sure to regularly check for ice dams on your roof so you don’t have to go through all the discomfort and frustration they can cause.

Stock up on Winter Emergency Supplies

If stocking up on emergency supplies isn’t part of your annual home maintenance, you should definitely add it to your checklist.

Stocking up is especially important if you live in an area where winter storms and blizzards are a regular occurrence and is expected to happen again this year. You should prepare for power outages as well as other related situations.

Buying non-perishable food and canned food, extra water, blankets, and wood for your fireplace is important so you aren’t stuck in a cold, wet situation without these things. Also, have items like flashlights, batteries, clean clothes, and anything else you might need during a storm ready.

Inspect Your Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors

During the winter, we do all we can to keep the cold air out, which means doors and windows are kept firmly shut. This is good for staying warm, but not so good for allowing in fresh air flow. As a result, there could be a build-up of dangerous gases in your home, such as carbon monoxide.

Heating systems can also dry the air in your home, so if a fire starts, it will escalate a lot faster than normal. To prepare for this situation and avoid safety and health problems, it’s crucial that you inspect your home’s smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors before winter starts.

Make doubly sure that your detectors work well and test them out regularly. It is also a good idea to keep spare batteries nearby just in case.

Clear Ice and Snow From the Trees and Roof

Another important part of annual home maintenance is clearing snow and ice from your roof and trees. This is another task that should be done during the winter rather than before it, but it’s important enough to make part of your checklist so you don’t neglect taking care of it.

It is essential that you clear snow from your trees and roof as soon as you can. A build-up of wet snow can cause tree branches to snap and become a safety hazard. And if your gutters and roof are covered in snow, there could be a lot of damage you could have avoided.

Make Sure Your Pipes Don’t Freeze

If your home’s pipes are exposed to cold air for long periods, they can burst, and this can cause major water damage that can be costly as well as very inconvenient and frustrating.

As such, it’s important that you do what you can to prevent your pipes from freezing. Keep your home thermostat at a temperature of 55 degrees, even when you’re not home. Don’t open cabinetry with plumbing so the airflow can remain warm.

It is also recommended that you insulate your pipes so they can stay warm. Visit your nearest hardware store for insulation that will keep the cold out without costing an arm and a leg.

Bonus Tip: Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

One of the last points of discussion around annual home maintenance is related to your home’s ceiling fans and this is a trick that not many folks know about.

This tip also won’t cost you anything but can help you save some money this winter. You can help give your heating system a break by reversing the motor on your ceiling fans. This will cause them to run in a clockwise direction.

You may wonder what this will achieve, but it can actually make a bigger difference than you think. By turning clockwise, the fans will force the warm air that has risen up to near the ceiling down to the lower parts of the room. This way, the room is warmer without you turning up the thermostat.

If you want to take good care of your home, you need to do proper and thorough annual home maintenance without fail. By preparing your home for the icy winter, you will not only protect your house but also get to enjoy the season more. You will also be able to rest easy, knowing that you’re ready and prepared no matter what lies ahead.

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