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"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 is an appropriate item for your winter home maintenance checklist, too. In addition to fire safety, winter has a lot of weather to contend with, and your home needs to be ready, so work from room to room to make sure you’re well prepared.
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 to plan a home evacuation 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 warms up the space.
Prepping a bathroom for cold temperatures is the best way to maintain functionality.
- 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 occur.
- Allowing a small, slow drip of water to escape in frigid temperatures avoids built-up pressure and burst plumbing. Leaving the cabinet doors open for warm air to circulate also helps.
Are you hoping to sell soon? Here are a few tips: Easy DIY Kitchen and Bathroom Updates.
A gathering space for comfort and coziness is best served with a few precautions.
- Your fireplace should be cleaned regularly and repaired if needed. Have fire tools and heatproof gloves on hand to manage activity. Professionals should also inspect gas fireplaces each year.
- Space heaters are dangerous if unattended. Leaving a note visible to everyone to shut it off before leaving the house is an easy way to avoid tragedy. Before using, read the safety instructions to verify the clearance space needed.
- If your windows allow cold air in, invest in DIY insulation to temporarily block the heat from escaping.
A bedroom isn’t a retreat for sleep if it’s too cold.
- Bedroom vents are easily blocked by furniture and rugs. Clear the airflow for maximum heat. If mounted from the ceiling, vacuum thoroughly to avoid blowing dust.
- Add extra blankets to beds and upgrade to flannel sheets to save on energy costs at night.
- Change lightweight curtains to a heavy fabric to block drafts and further warm the room.
Thinking of updating your bedroom this winter? Use Color to Define Your Decorating Style in the Bedroom
Basements or Utility Rooms
These areas are typically the workhorses of the house and need annual service 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 familiarize yourself with how to close the main water shut-off valve. It could save thousands of dollars in damage.
- Any pipe 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.
There are many ways to winterize throughout the home to help you 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 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 the sun warm the rooms.
- Keep the doors closed for rooms not often to minimize wasted energy.
- The winter is an optimal season to test for radon because the heating system is running.
Preventing the cold and water from coming into the house is the best protection from the winter season.
- The garage door should not have gaps or cracks to let the weather or animals inside. It might be a cost-savings to insulate the garage door if used frequently during the winter.
- Regularly checking the roof and gutters for ice dams and icicles removes the possibility of more extensive damage to the house.
- Storm preparedness is key to getting through winter without inconvenience, at a 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. So 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
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