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Give Your Home a Winter Workout

By the time winter rolls around, most homes are sealed up to protect against the elements. If you’ve done the job correctly, storm windows, weather stripping, clean gutters, proper insulation, and a well-maintained heating system are keeping the home both warm and safe throughout the cold season. However, winter’s cold and damp weather can take its toll on a home, with frozen branches knocking against roofs, exterior pipes freezing, and small cracks and air leaks making heating systems inefficient against drafts. Also, a “sealed-up” home can harbor dirty or dusty air if heating systems, ducts, and filters weren’t clean before the season started.

Winter home maintenance is important for safety and good health. Winter is also a good time of year to schedule a preventive home maintenance inspection with WIN Home Inspection, which can help you set priorities and create a to-do list of repair and renovation tasks that will improve the quality of your home. Here are some of the major winter maintenance tasks you may need to address: 

Keep indoor air clean. Many homeowners check their heating system during fall, before it kicks into use, but winter’s heavy usage of the system may expose latent problems. It’s important to switch filters periodically in heaters and to keep air ducts clean. Winter is also a good time to test for carbon monoxide (which can be released from furnaces and other fuel or wood burning systems), as well as whether radon gas, mold, or lead are present in your home.

Insulate against drafts and air leaks. If your home is cold or drafty, you’ll want to study the source of air leaks and review options such as caulking or adding interior insulation. Storm windows and doors, and window replacement, can also cut down on heat loss.

Keep an eye on the outdoors. Periodically monitor the roof and gutters to make sure ice isn’t accumulating and that frozen branches aren’t close enough to the property to fall and cause damage. It’s also vital to protect faucets from dripping and freezing and to examine pipes in cold areas of the home or yard as well. Many hardware and home maintenance stores sell protective covers or insulation that can protect pipes from winter freezes.

Check outdoor pools and hot tubs. If you own an outdoor pool or sauna you will need to follow the manufacturers’ or a local maintenance firm’s tips for precautions during winter. When pools or saunas aren’t either maintained properly or aren’t “shut down” properly after the summer season, the risk of expensive damage from the water or to the motors that power filtration or circulation systems is higher.

Work on aesthetic changes.  If you’ve completed the above maintenance tasks, winter is a good time to focus on aesthetic changes. It’s a good time for rug cleaning, dry cleaning drapes, and small “update” tasks like replacing fire extinguishers or alarm batteries, caulking tubs and showers, or shopping for appliances—many of which go on sale after the holidays.

Consider a preventive maintenance inspection on your home. Winter is an excellent time to take total inventory of your home’s major systems and plot out a work plan for maintenance tasks during the coming year. A preventive home maintenance inspection from WIN Home Inspection can help you with this task by identifying different repair and maintenance issues in your home, and provide you with a handy checklist that helps you sort out which projects are priorities and which are optional.

Winter is an excellent time to take a close look at how well your home “breathes” and how your home’s systems withstand the elements. By protecting your outdoor spaces against freezing or damage from snow and ice, and protecting your indoor spaces from cold drafty air and the accumulation of dust and dirt, the cooler months will make home cozy and calm rather than chilly and chaotic.