It’s the best time of year to make sure that your doors and windows are sealed tight. Protect the interior of your home from winter weather by repairing any window cracks, caulking around windows and door frames, and installing or repairing weather-stripping.
No one wants a leaky basement, especially during cold or rainy seasons, so this is the prime time to check for leaks and cracks in the concrete walls of your basement. While you’re at it, test and clean your home’s sump pump to prevent backups or mechanical failure. Your utility room is another area that needs routine cleaning. Clear out lint and dust from your laundry vents to avoid fire hazards and keep your appliances operating efficiently.
Don’t get stranded in the dead of winter without hot water. Consider purchasing a water heater insulator to help save energy. It is also important to routinely check the seals and gaskets of your water tank to find any leaks or breakage before it becomes a big problem.
Your porches, patios, and decks might not get too much use in the wintertime, but they still need maintenance attention. Research or talk to an expert about cleaning and sealing your wooden deck. (Depending on where you live, it might be too cold to apply sealant. Check the manufacturer’s suggestions to determine if you should wait for warmer weather). In the meantime, closely examine your deck, porch, or patio for signs of rotting wood or loose stones and tiles in need of repair.
Take a walk around the exterior of your home to inspect for missing or loose siding, minor cracks in the foundation, or joints in need of repair. Siding expands in the heat and contracts in the cold, so it needs to be checked often throughout the changing seasons. Cracks in exterior walls can be caulked or sealed, but contact a professional if you suspect any major structural issues.
To avoid bursting pipes in colder climates, drain and shut off sprinkler systems and other water lines that won’t be used during the winter. If you won’t be using lawn and gardening hoses in the coming months, it’s also a good idea to drain and store them somewhere dry and out of the elements. (It’s also the perfect time to store or cover any outdoor furniture, gardening supplies, or yard decor).
Any time you’re expecting seasonal weather, no matter the time of the year, it’s wise to check your roof for signs of damage. Keep an eye on soffits, shingles, and vent pipes throughout the winter to avoid major leaks or ventilation problems. If you have a real fireplace in your home, this is also the time to have your chimney cleaned and inspected.
Dirt, leaves, and other buildup in your gutters can cause ice dams to form in cold weather, so make sure to clear out your gutters on a regular basis. To make the job easier, consider installing gutter strainers or other gutter-covering solutions.
Smoke detectors need new batteries about once every 12 months, so if you haven’t changed the batteries yet this year, now is the time. Don’t forget to do a monthly check to make sure each smoke detector in your house is still working this winter. Electricity-powered carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced every 5-7 years, and will usually have an expiration date somewhere on the unit.
The attic is an often-forgotten area when it comes to winter maintenance. Take a moment this month to check vent openings for nests or other blockages and make sure insulation is evenly distributed. Good insulation goes far when it comes to keeping temperatures regulated during seasons of fluctuating weather. Don’t forget to examine the rafters and insulation for signs of roof leaks.