Ultimate Winter Home Maintenance Checklist
The cold weather of the winter months brings special challenges to your home. Thats why your favorite home inspector has written this ultimate winter home maintenance checklist.
Everyone knows the old saying “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure”. So, do yourself a favor and don’t neglect routine maintenance on your home and you may be able to avoid costly repairs down the road.
Also, you’re going to need a few tools here, so new homeowners should check out our list of must have homeowner tools.
Check Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Most carbon monoxide deaths and injuries occur in the winter. Since carbon monoxide is a by product of combustion, and many heating systems use fuel and combustion, carbon monoxide becomes a real and dangerous issue.
That’s why you need to change the CO and smoke detector batteries, replace any older than 6 years old, and make sure you have enough in your home.
If you don’t do anything else on the winter home maintenance checklist, just make sure you do this one.
Get a Heating System Tune-Up
You really should have your heating system inspected and maintained by a qualified HVAC contractor in the fall, before the winter. However, I know home maintenance generally falls to the bottom of most peoples priority list though. If you did not do it in the fall, then make sure you get it done now.
Regular maintenance on your heating system can prolong its life, and make sure its operating at peak efficiency to keep your heating costs down.
Most HVAC service companies offer a tune-up service. You will want to make sure they include at least the following.
- Motor Bearings and other moving parts should be lubricated
- The fan and fan compartment should be cleaned, and fan belts should be tightened or replaced.
- Electrical connections, and voltage and current checks.
- The heat exchanger should be tested and inspected for cracks and damage
- If your heating system is a fuel fired system, the exhaust system should be checked for proper draft and clearance to combustibles.
- A combustion air calculation should be completed to make sure there is adequate combustion air for your furnace
- The burners should be cleaned and inspected
- Gas connections should be checked for leaks and proper pressure should be verified
- If applicable the condensate drain line should be checked and cleaned if needed
- The thermostat should be tested and calibrated
- Coil fins should be cleaned and straightened
This is obviously a lot of work, so should be wary of cheap tune-ups such as $29. These can sometimes be offered by less than honest companies to get into your house, and sell you on repairs and upgrades that you don’t need.
Winterize Your Plumbing System
Freezing temperatures means freezing water and potentially frozen or burst pipes. If you notice a certain fixture in your house is not working, the water inside the pipe is probably frozen and you should thaw it out immediately. Burst pipes can cause significant water damage and expensive repairs.
The most common pipes that freeze and burst are the pipes going to outdoor faucets, and the pipes to your sprinkler system.
Taking care of your outdoor faucets is easy. Outdoor faucets have a shut off valve. First, find the shutoff valve and turn it off. Then, remove any garden hoses connected to the faucet. Lastly, open the valve on the faucet to drain out any remaining water. Now, there will be far less of chance of a frozen pipe .
Lawn sprinkler systems are different and require some specialized equipment to to remove all the water. I recommend calling a professional for this portion of your winter home maintenance plan.
Inspect and Clean Your Gutters
There might be a lot of snow melting off your roof and your gutters need to be cleaned and operational to get the water off the roof and away from your foundation. First, walk around your house and make sure there is no sagging in your gutters and all gutters are sloped toward the downspouts.
Next, if your gutters are full of debris, then you’re going to need to clean them.
We have the best hack to make sure cleaning your gutters is easy and you don’t die. Call us at 804-269-4321 to have them cleaned :).
Get Your Chimney Ready
Many homeowners love to use their fireplaces in the winter. However, the NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) estimates that approximately 50,000 house fires are caused by heating equipment every year, and about 15,000 of those are from the fireplace or chimney.
A fireplace can be a nice spot to cozy up and drink some coffee, or watch a movie. Just be safe about it. Every year you should have your fireplace and chimney swept and inspected by a qualified chimney sweep.
Check for Air Leaks
The US Department of Energy estimates that air leakage around windows and doors causes about 18-20 percent heat loss. Similarly, EnergyStar estimates its about 15 percent. Either way, drafty windows and doors are the equivalent of leaving a window open all day, every day.
Obviously that’s not good, but there are some things you can do yourself to mitigate this. First, inspect around door frames and window frames for obvious gaps and cold air leakage. Then, replace any damaged weather stripping that is allowing light and air in around the door. Finally, replace any dried and missing caulk outdoors that could be allowing air leakage.
If you really want to find and seal all of your air leaks, then you’ll need to have a professional check your home with a blower door test. While you’ll probably be able to find the largest and most obvious leaks, they will be able to find all the leaks and save you a considerable amount of money on your energy costs.
Close Your Crawlspace Vents
We strongly believe in leaving your crawlspace vents closed all year long. This is because open crawl space vents cause humid, wet, and moldy crawlspaces in the spring and summer.
If you do leave them open in the summer, then you definitely want them closed in the winter. Obviously your crawl space usually houses your plumbing pipes, dryer vents, and your Hvac system ducts. Sometimes, even the water heater is in the installed in the crawl space.
With this in mind, you want to close your crawl space vents to keep these components as warm as possible.
Change Your HVAC Filter
There is no point in having your HVAC (heating ventilation air conditioner) system inspected and tuned up if you are not going to change your filter. So, we have written a whole blog on how to choose the best air filter for your home.
Prepare For Winter Storms
Even though we don’t get many winter storms here in the Richmond area, we do get some. For example, the ice storm of 2020 left us without powers for about 3 days, and some people had no power for a week or more. With that in mind, you want to be ready if and when that happens. So, here are some items to stock up on in the event of a winter storm.
A generator and extension cords in case there are power outages
An indoor space heater such as a kerosene heater, or propane heater
Don’t forget to stock up kersosene or propane.
Emergency food and water
The CDC recommends 1 gallon per person per day.
A First aid Kit
Just get the biggest one you can find.
Harsh winter conditions can be hard on your home, and your pocket. Deferring maintenance can cause serious problems down the road, and cause you to spend more money heating your home than you have to. Take advantage of our winter maintenance checklist and keep your home in tip top shape.
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