Winter Home Maintenance Checklist


An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. -Ben Franklin

Prepare, prepare, prepare-- this is what Ben meant. In fact, he was referring to fire safety, which happens to be appropriate for the winter season too. Winter has a lot of weather to contend with and your home needs to be ready.

Kitchen

A lot of home life happens in the kitchen, and it’s probably the most used room in the house, so it’s crucial to keep it operational during the winter season.  

  • Fire safety: Fire extinguishers have an expiration date. Check yours and then refresh your memory for correct usage. Winter is also a great time of year to formulate a plan for evacuation from the house in case of fire. Locks on windows and doors should function correctly and easily for timely escape. The family needs to know how to exit the home quickly and head to a safe place to meet.
  • Frozen water is a known wintertime hazard. Inspect all the water pipes and lines to and from the sink, refrigerator, and dishwasher.
  • Kitchens often have tile or other hard flooring. Adding throw rugs, and even layering sizes, keeps the space warmer.

Bathrooms

Necessity proves to be difficult to live without! Prepping a bathroom for cold temperatures is the best way to maintain functionally.

  • Many of the water issues found in the kitchen also occur in bathrooms. Clearing space from beneath bathroom sinks ensures items won’t be damaged if frozen pipes do occur.
  • In extremely cold temperatures, allowing a small, slow drip of water to escape avoids built up pressure and burst plumbing. Leaving the cabinet doors open for warm air to circulate also helps.

Living Room

A gathering space for comfort and coziness is best served with a few precautions.

  • Keeping with the fire safety theme, your fireplace should be cleaned regularly and repaired if needed. Having fire tools on hand with heat proof gloves to manage active fires is helpful. Gas fireplaces should also be inspected yearly by professionals.
  • Space heaters are dangerous if unattended. Leaving a note visible to everyone to shut off before leaving the house is an easy way to avoid tragedy. Before using, re-read safety instructions to verify the clearance space need.
  • If your windows are allowing cold air in, invest in DIY insulation to temporarily block the heat from escaping.

Bedrooms

A bedroom isn’t a retreat for sleep if it’s too cold.

  • Bedroom vents are easily blocked by furniture and rugs. Clear the air flow for maximum heat. If they are mounted from the ceiling, vacuum thoroughly to avoid blowing dust.
  • To save on energy costs at night, add extra blankets to beds and upgrade to flannel sheets.
  • Change lightweight curtains to a heavy fabric to block drafts and further warm the room.

Basements or Utility Rooms

These areas are typically the workhorses of the house, and should be serviced annually to avoid costly repairs and weather related catastrophes.

  • Water heaters are vital for the house to function comfortably. It’s necessary to drain away sediment at least yearly.
  • Locate and be familiar with how to close the main water shut-off valve. It could save thousands of dollars in damage.
  • Any pipe that is close to an exterior wall benefits from a sleeve to keep it warm enough to prevent freezing.
  • The furnace also needs annual maintenance to run without worry.
  • Monthly filter changes make the heating system run more efficiently.

General Interior

Throughout the home, there are many ways to winterize. Stay safe and warm.

  • Reverse the direction of ceiling fans to send warm air down to the floor level.
  • Blocking drafts with home improvement store remedies keeps the cold air from coming in from under the doors.
  • Programming a thermostat to stay consistent through the day and lower at night saves money on energy bills.
  • If windows are draft proof, open the curtains during the day to let sun warm the rooms.
  • For rooms not often used, keep the doors closed to minimize wasted energy.
  • The winter is an optimal season to test for Radon because the heating system is running.

General Exterior

Preventing the cold and water from coming into the house is the best protection from the winter season.

  • The garage door should not have any gaps or cracks to let the weather or animals inside. It might be a cost savings to insulate the garage door if it’s used frequently during the winter.
  • Regularly checking the roof and gutters for ice dams and icicles removes the possibility of larger damage to the house.
  • Storm preparedness is key to getting through winter without inconvenience, at minimum. Gather shovels and ice remover for immediate use. Generators and snow blowers need service and fuel to be effective during big storms.

Some winter prevention tasks take 10 minutes and others an hour or more. Plot out a couple of weekends before the harsh weather hits to take care of your home and ward off costly and destructive problems.

By Dawn M. Smith