For many, winter is the time to cozy up by a fireplace and relax, but that doesn’t mean regular home maintenance should be put on the backburner. If you take good care of your home and perform your necessary preventive maintenance now, you can avoid taking on unneeded costly repairs in the future. Here are ten winter maintenance to-dos for a safe, comfortable home all season long.
1. Reverse ceiling fans.
Reverse the direction of any ceiling fans in the winter. Switching fans from counterclockwise to clockwise will push warm air from the ceiling down into the room.
2. Clean out dryer lint.
This is especially important to do throughout the coldest season because the heavier fabrics we use to stay warm naturally produce more lint, increasing risk. Dryer fires peak in January and are entirely preventable. Frequently empty the lint screen and keep your dryer vent opening free from snow and other debris to minimize your risk.
3. Create a winter weather emergency kit.
Ice and snow can not only create dangerous driving conditions, but in some cases, also trap residents inside their homes. If you live in a region where this is a possibility, it’s best to be prepared. Create a winter weather emergency kit that includes a three-day supply of water and nonperishable food, flashlights, batteries, a two-way radio, personal hygiene items, basic medications such as aspirin, first-aid materials, a cellphone and chargers, a manual can opener, and sanitizing wipes.
4. Get a backup generator.
A generator can keep the power going in case of extended outages. A standby or portable generator will automatically power the essentials or your entire home. Use them in an emergency, but remember, do not bring a generator indoors.
5. Stock the medicine cabinet.
Because cold and flu can run rampant in the chillier months, stock the medicine cabinet with basic, over-the-counter medications, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes.
6. Keep walkways clear.
When it snows, paths and driveways should be cleared quickly and have a de-icing agent applied to prevent slips and falls. In case of a sudden major snowfall, place markers around walkways to help guide your steps.
7. Wait until it’s safe to remove holiday decorations.
With wind, rain, snow, and ice in the forecast, winter weather can make it hazardous to take down holiday lights and decorations. Before removing outdoor lights, inflatables, and other heavy decorations, keep an eye on the weather conditions, and make sure to plan the task for a nice day. Remember to place your ladder on a dry, even surface or consider using a utility pole with hook extension to reach high-hanging lights and decorations.
8. Clean and replace filters in your heating system.
Make sure your filters are in good shape. During months when your system is in overdrive (like during the winter), check and replace filters monthly. This will keep your system running well and ensure optimal air quality in your home.
9. Check the heater and carbon monoxide detector.
If you have a gas heater, inspect the pilot light to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. You can contact your local gas and electric providers to schedule an inspection. Also, confirm your carbon monoxide detector is working properly.
10. Get weather-resistant doormats and floor mats.
To avoid tracking water and snow indoors, select mats made of olefin fiber, which absorbs moisture from shoes and boots, dries quickly, and is resistant to mildew and rot. If you leave wet boots at the door, use boot trays with rimmed edges to contain water.