Is Your Home Ready for Winter?
Winter Weather Items to Keep on Hand
D batteries (or flashlights that don't use them).
One of the first things to fly off of hardware store shelves during an extended power outage is D batteries. (This usually happens shortly after thousands of hapless homeowners discover that they have plenty of flashlights lying around, but no working D batteries to use them with.) A good backup option is to also keep some crank-powered wind-up flashlights handy, or else ones that use AA batteries.
Exterior faucet covers.
It only takes one serious frost to create cracks in an exterior faucet, and insulated faucet covers are another item that stores run short of quickly during a cold weather snap. They're inexpensive and can prevent a costly repair, so it makes sense to pick up a few early.
If you don't have rock salt for melting ice at your home, you may find that the time you need it most is when it's too dangerous to try to slip and slide your way to the store. This is one of those items that is worth keeping around even if you don't expect to have to use it.
Yearly Winter Maintenance Checks
Replace batteries in smoke alarms.
Batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced twice a year. (They typically last longer, but it's always better to be on the safe side.)
At the same time, check your fire extinguishers to make sure they have not expired. You can learn all about how to choose and care for fire extinguishers at the Fire Extinguisher 101 website
Protect your home from excess water.
Check gutters and downspouts to make sure they're not blocked with debris. It's also a good idea to look for any downspouts or overflowing gutters that could deposit water near the foundation. Water should always be directed away from your home, not towards it.
Clean heaters and fireplaces.
Have the furnace serviced yearly, and make sure filters are replaced or cleaned every few months during seasons when the furnace is in use. Vacuum any baseboard heaters to remove dust that could leave smoke marks on walls.
If it has been more than a year since you had your fireplace cleaned, it's probably time to have it done again, especially if you use the fireplace often. Be sure to have the chimney flue and firebox cleaned as well.
Tip: Even gas fireplace flues need to be checked occasionally because they can become blocked by bird nests or debris. The Chimney Safety Institute of America offers a list of helpful chimney maintenance tips.
Consider cleaning air ducts.
You'll often hear that you should have the air ducts in your home cleaned every year, but the Environmental Protection Agency has produced a long
fact sheet explaining why this might not be true. (Click here to see the fact sheet as a web page
.) Just keep in mind that if you have pets, you'll probably want to have your home's air ducts cleaned on a regular basis regardless.
Winter Projects that Are Often Overlooked
Monitoring the crawl space for moisture.
If your home has a crawl space, you're probably well aware that it's not the most fun place to spend time in; however, it's a good idea to at least send someone down there to check on things occasionally.
In order to prevent moisture from gradually penetrating the framework of your home, the crawl space needs to stay dry even during periods of severe weather. Any exposed earth should be covered with a vapor barrier such as Visqueen.
Ensuring that the attic space has enough ventilation.
Homes today are sealed far more tightly than they were decades ago, which means that moisture can build up if there's not enough cross-ventilation, especially in the attic. Significant moisture accumulation there can dramatically shorten the life span of a roof.
Home inspectors like to feel a slight breeze when they enter an attic space, and they also want to see all ventilation ducts, such as bathroom fan ducts, venting all the way to the exterior rather than simply into the attic. Good attic ventilation is especially important during the winter months, when windows and doors stay closed more often.
Do you have questions about winter home maintenance, or would you like a recommendation to a good service provider who can help you with a project? Just call me, or click "Reply" to this email. I'm always happy to help you and those you know with any real estate need!
(What the lawyers make us say: The information in this newsletter is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Please always consult a qualified expert before making decisions based on this content. Nothing in this article is meant to be taken as expert legal, financial, or medical advice.)