Winter is the season when people cozy up indoors. The winter season evokes thoughts of comfort food and curling up in front of the fire or television. Home becomes the preferred comfortable space for the whole family during long winter months. This is why it’s so important to ensure your home is in a good state of repair this time of year. Here are some tips for you to properly maintain your homes this winter. 

1. Keep your house or apartment building warm and prevent costly heat loss

The first thing is to ensure that your building’s heat source is in working order. Ideally, your heating system should be serviced annually by a qualified professional. If it’s new, ask them to check if systems were properly installed. Replace furnace air filters at the beginning of the winter season. Clogged air filters slow a furnace down causing it to use more energy and run less efficiently.

2. Avoid frozen pipes

Never turn the heat off completely during the winter. Maintain adequate temperatures and air circulation throughout the house or building. If you are leaving for a prolonged period, make sure a family member or friend can check that all is in working order. If your outdoor faucets have shut-off valves located on the inside of your home, turn them off. Consider insulating water pipes that are close to exterior walls. Also, remember to turn off the sprinkler system.

3. Protect patio furniture and store seasonal tools

Keep your patio furniture safe from the elements (including rust) by covering your pieces with a heavy tarp. And if you have room, you can also store furniture in a shed, garage or basement. Make sure all seasonal tools such as rakes, pruning shears and garden shovels are stored inside a garage or shed away from the elements. 

4. Keep fire safety in mind!

Home fires tend to increase in the winter months. The main reasons are a malfunction of the heating system or a fireplace that is left unattended. Fireplaces and chimneys need regular cleanings to remain safe and effective. Also, check all emergency exits and ensure they are unobstructed. Make sure fire extinguishers are maintained and kept in easily accessible locations.

5. Maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

It is very important to regularly test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and check their batteries. This is especially important in the winter, when we keep the windows shut and typically use wood stoves and fireplaces more often. (Make it a habit to change the batteries at the beginning of every season.)

Home maintenance can take some time and effort. The time you spend protecting your property will make it more comfortable for you or your tenants. It will also avoid costly problems in the long run.

6. Keep an eye on trees.

Your winter home maintenance checklist should include trimming any dead tree branches so they don’t fall and damage your home during a winter storm. And if you need to remove large limbs or remove a tree, it may be best to hire a professional. Big snowfalls can settle onto tree limbs, making them heavy and more prone to breaking — which can be especially dangerous if a tree is within reach of your house. Ease the burden on your trees by brushing off snow after each snowfall, using a broom to extend your reach. Don’t shake the tree to remove snow, since this can cause brittle limbs to break. Proper tree maintenance in the fall, paired with regular snow removal, should help prevent breakage — but if a limb does fall during winter, have it removed as soon as weather permits.

7. Check attic ventilation, insulation & roof

Ensure your attic is well-insulated to save on energy costs. Check the attic door for gaps that leak warm air into the attic and predispose your roof to ice dams and other winter damage.

Check attic vents to ensure they are free of debris and are providing adequate ventilation. Proper ventilation will prolong the life of your roof. Give the roof a good look before winter hits. Are there any loose or missing shingles that may result in leaks from melting snow.

8.Test Your Sump Pump

Your sump pump will help you keep your basement dry during the wet season, so make sure it’s working properly. Slowly pour a few gallons of water into the pit to make sure the pump turns on. The typical lifespan of a sump pump is 10 years. And make sure it last this long with your home maintenance checklist.

9. Protect Entryways
All that snow, ice and mud can wreak havoc on your entryway floors. Place mats both inside and outside the door, along with boot trays inside the entryway. And make sure your mudroom is ready with a place to dry wet jackets, hats, mittens and gloves.

10. Check for Air Leaks
Act now on your home maintenance checklist to save on heating costs during the winter months. And check for air leaks around windows and doors, including cracks in caulking or weatherstripping. Also, replace caulk and weatherstripping if necessary.

11. Protect the Air Conditioner
Even though the condensing unit is built for outdoor elements, it can still be damaged by falling icicles and other debris. You don’t need to invest in a waterproof cover (in fact many manufacturers recommend against it, because it creates a warm space for critters). Just place a sheet of plywood held down by a few bricks on top and your AC should be ready to work again in the spring.

12. Clear Gutters

If you haven’t already, clear gutters of debris including sticks, pine cones and leaves so melted snow will drain properly. And direct downspouts away from your home’s foundation to help prevent basement leaks and flooding.

13. Ready Shovels, Check Snow Blower
Move your snow shovels to an area near the door where they will be within easy reach. Change the oil in your snow blower and replace the spark plug if needed.

14. Clean your dryer hose and vent.

Clogged dryer hoses pose huge fire hazards. You can prevent these house fires by cleaning your lint filter, emptying or replacing your dryer hose, and regularly checking the vent and exhaust.