Reminder: Midwinter Home Maintenance Checkup

Reminder: Midwinter Home Maintenance Checkup
  • Opening Intro -

    By the middle of the winter you've reached the exact opposite home maintenance level that was reached last summer when you were pulling out weeds, trimming hedges, cleaning your swimming pool, and perhaps painting your home.

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But winter does not mean a complete rest from your home maintenance work as several problems could be looming just out of sight. Let’s take a look at a number of important midwinter home maintenance checks that you should perform today.

Check your furnace. Older furnaces require that you replenish with water, so check that the water level is sufficient. Look for the glass tube and refill if necessary by controlling the valve that supplies the water. And while you’re inspecting the water level, check the air filter and clean or replace if needed.

Adjust the thermostat. If you have an electronic thermostat, then you can have temperature settings automatically adjusted morning, afternoon, and evening. If a deep cold snap moves in, be mindful that a too low setting at night may not keep exposed pipes from freezing. Maintain a nighttime temperature no lower than 55 degrees and leave doors open to rooms in the house that are not occupied to encourage a more even distribution of heat throughout.

Inspect your insulation. Exposed pipes should have sufficient insulation too. This means wrapping them as necessary and if very cold weather moves in, placing an electric heater nearby. If the pipes do freeze, you must open the valves and take a hair dryer and run it back and forth across the surface of the pipe. You’ll know that your efforts are a success when you hear water gushing through your faucets.

Order your fuel. If your home is heated by oil or propane, check those levels and calculate how much fuel you expect to use in the coming weeks. If your fuel supply is low and especially nasty weather is anticipated, then place a delivery order immediately. Obstructed roads can delay your refill, perhaps leaving you without heat for several days.

Prepare for calamity. Every home should have a fire escape plan in place. Your children should know how and where to exit as well as where they will meet up outside of your home. Review your plans with your children and modify as necessary. You should also inspect each smoke detector, replacing batteries as necessary. Do the same with your carbon monoxide detector if you have one. And your kitchen fire extinguisher should also be tested at this time.

Examine windows and doors. You may have insulated your windows and doors while it was still fall. Even so, insulation can crack, move out of place or simply not be sufficient to efficiently protect your home. Add new weather stripping as necessary. Consider having your utility company provide an energy audit, helping to identify the weakest areas in your home and advising you how to insulate it better.

Observe the roof. If you live where snow and ice build up are common, go outside and take a look at your roof. From the ground you may observe several things including snow melt that trickles into your gutters as well as a build up of snow across your roof. After several heavy snows the weight on your roof may be too much for the structure. Avoid collapse by having excess snow removed. Be mindful that ice dams may also form at the edge of the roof backing up into your home. Keep gutters and downspouts clear too.

Remove dead branches. Determining that any branch is dead is difficult to do in the winter — the leaves are long gone and every branch looks the same. Still, that branch hanging directly over your home may have seen better days. Worse, with a bit of ice accumulation it could snap and crash into your home. Cut if off while the weather is still decent, removing one important concern this winter.

Test your generator. If you have a generator, test it. Ensure that it is in good working order, that it has a clean filter and that you have enough fuel. Should bad weather move in you’ll have it ready to provide backup heat and electricity to handle the crisis.

Winter Wallop

Your home is designed to withstand the worst that winter has to offer. Still, proper maintenance and regular inspections will ensure that it always provides a safe living environment for your family. Complete your midwinter home maintenance checkup at once and get ready for spring because it will be here in no time.

See AlsoWinter Clean Up: Snow, Ice, and Yard Care

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About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".