This post was originally published in October of 2009. I thought it might be a good time to kick it back to the top of the list.
Like it or not, winter is coming and now is the time to get your home ready for it. A few hours looking after some preventative home maintenance items may save you from dealing with costly emergency repairs when everyone else is looking to have something fixed and service people are stretched thin.
Here is a list of things we should all be looking after over the next couple of weeks to keep our Saskatoon homes in tip-top shape, and our families safe living in them.
If I’ve missed something that you feel should be added to my list please leave a comment below.
On the inside
- Consider having your home heating system professionally serviced to ensure reliability and efficient operation through the long winter.
- Change the furnace filter, ensure that the furnace chimney is sound and free from obstructions and that the furnace has an adequate source of fresh air.
- If you don’t already have one, consider a humidity control system for your home to keep air comfortable.
- Consider a programmable thermostat to save on energy costs and maintain maximum comfort.
- Tune up the hot water system, perhaps even draining and refilling the tank to remove sediment build up from the bottom of the tank.
- Have a professional inspect and clean fireplaces and chimneys for safety and efficiency.
- Test and service your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure that they are operational. Replace the batteries, whether they need it or not.
- Add weather-stripping as required on the inside of doors and windows.
- Purchase and install window insulation kits to cover inefficient windows from the inside to prevent heat loss and ice build up on windows.
- Give ceiling fans a quick cleaning, oil the motors, and reverse the direction in which they turn to push warm air back down into the room.
- Remove window-mounted air conditioners and cover central air conditioning units to keep the snow off of them.
- Clean your clothes dryer vent from the inside and the outside of the house to remove potential obstructions.
- With several additional hours of daily darkness just around the corner consider installing night lighting in hallways especially around staircases and hallways.
On the outside
- Have a walk around the roof of your home to look for loose, damaged or missing roofing material. Inspect for cracks in the flashing seals around skylights, chimneys and vent stacks.
- While you’re up there, give the gutters a quick cleaning to make sure that water can run freely in the spring. Clogged gutters can allow water to back up against the house causing damage to roofing material and siding. Worse, excess water will fall over the outside edge of the gutter reaching the ground near your foundation wall. Finally, excess build-up in gutters produces stress to the systems supporting the gutter and can reduce life.
- Make sure that the extensions on your downspouts are carrying water four to five feet from the foundation wall and that the grading of soil surrounding the house is diverting the flow of water away from the foundation wall, and not towards it.
- Terminate the water source to all exterior taps and sprinklers and open all exterior valves to ensure proper and complete drainage.
- Underground sprinkler systems should be blown out to prevent water lingering below ground in the system’s pipes from freezing.
- Tidy up your landscaping by pruning shrubs and tree branches away from the house, particularly those that might encroach on the roof, gable venting or overhead utility lines.
- Clear the areas around foundation walls to prevent build up of debris and leafy material, which can trap moisture at the foundation wall.
- Inspect foundation walls and exterior vents to ensure that you’re not providing easy access to rodents seeking a warm place to stay over the winter.
- Apply exterior caulking around windows and doors as needed. Even a small opening can allow a lot of heat to escape from your home. Homes with wood siding and windows that protrude past the siding material should only be caulked on the sides and at the top. Some opening beneath the sill provides an area through which moisture can escape from exterior walls.
- Seal cracks in the exterior finish of buildings and cracks in flat concrete surfaces to prevent water penetration that can freeze and expand causing further damage.
- Lubricate hinges including those on overhead garage doors.
- Tune up electric garage door openers.
- It’s time to put the summer toys away and crack out the winter goodies. You know, ice scrapers, shovels, snow blowers, etc.
- Remove fuel from gas powered yard care equipment and run the equipment continuously until all remaining fuel has been burned.
- If you do the Christmas lights thing, they’ll be a lot more fun to install in October than December.
Wishing you all a wonderful and short winter.
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