Winter Home Maintenance Checklist
Louisville winters can be tough on our homes. Ensure your home is in tip-top shape by using this winter home-maintenance checklist.
CHECK YOUR HEATING SYSTEM: Home maintenance experts advise getting your furnace checked annually by a professional, especially before the first big snowstorm arrives! Most manufacturers and technicians recommend scheduling a tune-up or inspection for your furnace every year. A professional will not only check for any safety issues, but they can also perform maintenance as a preventive measure so you don’t end up with a breakdown in the middle of a cold front – when you may have to wait several days for a service call. And don’t forget to change the filter in your furnace regularly.
STOP COLD AIR FROM GETTING IN: Feel a cold breeze near windows, doors, and exterior walls? Take action in early winter as soon as you notice a problem. Boost your home’s energy efficiency and stop cold air in its tracks by checking around doors and windows and anywhere something penetrates a wall, like outside faucets and air vents. You can add caulking around these penetration points and repair or replace weatherstripping on doors and windows.
PREVENT PIPES FROM FREEZING: Disconnect your hose from the outside hose bib/faucet and if you have a water shut off value to the exterior hose bib, be sure to turn off that water supply. Insulate pipes — at least those on exterior walls or by windows and doors. Simple pipe insulation can be purchased at your local hardware store and easily installed. If the temperature gets extremely cold or if your pipes are prone to freezing, leave your faucets dripping slightly — the theory is that running water does not freeze. You can also open the cabinet doors to allow the warm air to circulate around the pipes. Keep the heat set no lower than 55 degrees when you are away.
CLEAN OUT YOUR GUTTERS: If you have any trees close to your home, your gutters may be full of leaves and debris. Even trees that don’t lose their leaves each year tend to have lots of debris fall during a windstorm. A small rake is the easiest way to comb the leaves out of your gutter. Hire a professional to clean your gutters if you’re uncomfortable climbing up on a ladder to reach everything. Clearing everything away is important — if it rains heavily and your gutters are too full, the water won’t be directed properly which may cause flooding around your exterior and damage to your siding and foundation.
SCHEDULE A CHIMNEY CLEANING: The last thing you want on a cold wintry night is your home filling up with smoke because of a chimney blockage. Whether there’s a build-up of soot or an old bird’s nest hiding at the top of your chimney, regular cleaning is essential for a properly functioning fireplace. Plan ahead and schedule an inspection and cleaning — that way you can fully relax with a cup of hot chocolate next to your fireplace or wood stove.
CHECK YOUR SMOKE AND CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS: In the winter, our doors and windows stay closed tight to keep out the cold air, which means fresh air flow is at a minimum. This means your home is more susceptible to build-up of dangerous gasses like carbon monoxide. Heating systems also tend to dry out the air in your home, so if something catches on fire, it can escalate much faster. Ensure you’ll be alerted to any smoke or gas leaks by checking on your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Most units have a button where you can run a test alert. If it’s been beeping periodically, make sure to replace the battery and run a test.
TAKE CARE OF LOW HANGING BRANCHES: Trees surrounding your home can cause severe damage to your house and even cause you to lose power. The weight of snow after a storm can cause limbs to snap, or bring the entire tree down on your home or power lines. Before it snows, have the tree's health checked and remove any dead limbs -- or any that could cause serious damage if they fell.