As we wrap up the first few weeks of the new year here in Central Illinois, Winter is in full swing with only a couple of months to go before we start hearing the sweet sound of love-birds chirping in the back yard. Until then, IT’S COLD OUT! While the birds fly south for the winter, we stay hunkered down in our homes to stay nice and toasty and we’ve made a winter home maintenance checklist so you can make sure you stay that way!
Furnace: First thing first, have you had your furnace checked in the last few years? It’s always a great idea to keep up on preventative maintenance on the main thing your family counts on to keep warm this winter. Many companies will come out and do an inspection for free, so check it out and see what you can come up with. Finding out too late is how things get expensive quickly. While you’re in the area, you may as well flush and insulate your hot water tank. Additional insulation can save big bucks in the long run. Typically not far from your water tank may be a sump pump. Checking this is as simple as pushing the trigger with a yard stick or broom handle. Making sure your pump is running properly can save thousands.
Windows and Doors: Over the summer months, it’s common for us to take off our wet and muddy shoes and boots at the door. In time, this can deteriorate the doorjamb sill allowing air to leak in. If maintainance through replacing the wood isn’t a short term option, a quick simple fix for this can be to put in new weather stripping. Just screw, glue, or nail in the rubber to the door and the cold winter air will stay where it belongs- OUT SIDE. Windows can be a bit trickier. Most times, when a window is leaking air it’s glazing has dried up and needs replaced. This can be replaced with caulk which will seal the glass back to the sash. When you have air leaking from the bottom or sides near the window frame or sill, your options lessen. You can still use weather stripping to slow the winter winds from coming in, but it may look unsightly. When your frame is leaking, it may be time for some more serious repairs. Experts can replace windows without damage to your siding and walls, so it’s best to leave that maintenance to them.
Gutters: We’ve all seen the ice spears hanging off of homes in the wet and freezing cycle of the winter months. As they may very well be beautiful, they are extremely dangerous. Nearly 200 people are killed every year by falling ice. This number can be eliminated by simply cleaning out your gutters so the cold winter rain and sleet can flow freely to your downspout. Don’t get speared by falling ice!
Ice Expands: Most of us know that when water freezes, it expands. The best example of this is seeing our beautiful outdoor pots crack and break during a surprise a winter freeze. Bringing them in to the garage or a shed is a great way to keep those pots safe from getting below 32 degrees. By simply taking them out of the brisk wind, the temperature is more likely to stay high enough to not freeze through. Also, bringing your hose in or at very least disconnecting it from the house could save you hundreds of dollars in repair bills on frozen and burst indoor piping. Lastly, don’t forget about furniture and tools. As they will certainly survive a few years with no show of wear, ultimately paint will chip off, wood will crack, upholstery will tear, and metal will rust in the harsh winter conditions.
The Small Things That Make it: There are a few things in the maintenance sector that commonly get overlooked until it’s too late and are more of an annoyance than anything. Have you stocked up on road salt? We’ve all slipped and slid around the driveway or sidewalk heading out to the car or for the mail and wished we had salted. The worst is when we finally go to salt the pavement and we’ve run out of salt. It’s not expensive and it’s certainly worth the purchase. How about when you go to the garage for that salt bag and the light burns out… Been there. Replacing the bulbs every couple of years is not expensive and can save a future moment of expletives in front of the family doggie. A big one for me currently is our humidifier. We had a house humidifier installed on our furnace several years ago but never thought to maintain it. The filter can be replaced or simply cleaned for those as frugal as me.
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