Photo by Christopher Harris at Unsplash
When the leaves start to turn and the air gets cooler, we love to revel in the crisp, cool air and pull our warm sweaters out of storage. But with that change comes a few simple chores to make sure your home is ready for the winter.
A winter checklist of chores doesn’t have to be long and oppressive. There are just a few things that need to be done to ensure your home makes it through winter unscathed and you stay safe and cozy inside.
- Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. More than one-third of fire deaths are in homes without smoke detectors — they save lives. Make sure you replace them every 10 years. Take the detector off of its mount and check the date of manufacture. If it’s been 10 years or more, replace it.
- Get your chimney inspected or swept. Chimney sweeps do more than just sing and dance in old musicals. Modern chimney sweeps make sure your wood-burning fireplace or stove is safe to use. If you don’t keep it clean, you can get a buildup of creosote, which is very flammable and can cause a fire. Chimney fires can get to 2,000 degrees inside, which can melt the mortar between bricks. While he’s inspecting, ask him to check if you need a cap, too. A chimney cap will keep birds and other wildlife and debris out of your chimney.
- Warm up your pipes. Not like a singer does, but more like what a plumber does. Your water pipes should mostly be in a heated area of the home. But you may have a few that are in crawl spaces or walls of your home that don’t get heat. If so, these pipes should be insulated. Check to make sure the insulation hasn’t worn off or torn. Without insulation, your pipes could freeze and burst, causing a huge, expensive headache for you during the coldest time of year. If you go out of town, keep your heat at 55 degrees or above, and on the coldest nights, open your cabinet drawers to allow heat to get to under-sink pipes. Disconnect your garden hose for the winter, and put on an insulated spigot cover to protect it from freezing.
- Mind the gaps. Check your doors and windows to see if they need to be caulked. If you have drafts around your windows, caulking — which is fairly easy and inexpensive — could save you money on your heating bill. Adding weather stripping to your doors and moving parts of windows can help keep heating costs down, too. If you want to be extra-efficient, you can get window insulation kits, that are really just plastic that you put over the windows in the winter.
- Clean your gutters, and inspect your roof. Gutters must be clean to move water away from the sides of your home. It’s not just annoying when water drips on you. It can cause serious damage to your roof and foundation. Also, having standing water near your home or in your gutters can invite mosquitoes to nest, bringing potential mosquito-borne disease to your family. Hire a pro to do this chore. It might seem easy, but getting up on a tall ladder can be dangerous. This is also a good time to inspect your roof for lost or loose shingles: Having your roof repaired is much cheaper than having it replaced.
It seems like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. A few preventive measures now will help your home run more efficiently and prevent disaster down the road.