You all know too well how unforgiving and brutal winter can be if it catches you unprepared for emergencies that may crop up without warning in your home. The importance of preparing for winter during the fall to avoid costly home repairs in the spring cannot be stressed more! It is even worse if you have to endure any inconveniences due to poor heating systems, improper insulation or clogged pipes and so on simply because you neglected to do the right things while there was time. Apart from being more expensive, it is not easy to get emergency repair jobs in the heart of winter. And when you get them, they are comparatively expensive.

A large proportion of property losses linked to severe weather conditions that property owners experience can be directly associated with conditions like winter storms. Therefore, fall provides the most ideal period for transition when you can make preparations for the cruel winter conditions. To avoid filing a claim for homeowner’s insurance due to damages caused by heavy snowfall or freezing temperature, there are various maintenance tasks you need to carry out now. Granted, the things you need to do are many and time consuming, but prepping your home now will save you a lot of headaches and money when Mr. Winter knocks at your door.

The numbers of things you need to check on are many including plumbing repairs, window and door maintenance, fire safety inspections, heating tune-up and many more. Below are 20 most important maintenance duties you need to perform during this cool season.

Inspect the plumbing around your home. Your home’s plumbing system will take added pressure and the piping maybe frozen when the temperatures drastically drop. This is the right time to have them inspected by a professional plumber. Things to look out for include:

  • Inspecting and testing the water heater’s pressure valves for possible leaks.

  • Check the valves in places susceptible to freezing like the attic, the garage or the basement.

  • The pipes in places vulnerable to lower temperatures should be insulated against freezing. You can do that alone if you have a plumbing background; otherwise, hire a licensed and expert plumber.

  • Outdoor plumbing like sprinklers, faucets and hoses should all be disconnected and drained for winterization. Don’t forget to use a professional.

  • If freezing sets in, you should know where and how to turn off the main entry valves.

  • Tune in to weather forecasts so that you can turn on the faucets to drip to prevent the pipes from freezing if significant overnight drops in temperatures are expected. A slow flow of water from the faucet will stave off the freezing effects.

Check the HVAC/heating system.

Woe betides you if you have to huddle in thick blankets while waiting for emergency repairs to your heating system in the middle of winter. The types of heating homeowners rely on are many and varied, but the most favored are HVAC systems. You may have forgotten to make any fixes during the summer, but this is not the time to repeat the mistake because a HVAC system that breaks down in the dead of winter necessitates very costly repairs. Avoid that happening by doing the following:

  • Get the heating system checked and repaired.

  • Have the filters replaced to stop/remove debris accumulation.

  • Ensure your heating system will function more efficiently by cleaning out the ducts. This will also eliminate respiratory infections by cutting down on dust infiltration.

  • Improve your energy efficiency by installing a thermostat that is programmable.

Prevent winter fire. Many homes become victims of winter fires due to interior furnishings that are left in close proximity to the heating system.

  • Therefore, inflammable materials should be kept well away from the heater.

  • The type of heater you use, whether a wood stove, HVAC system or a portable electric heater does not matter. What is important is to ensure that all forms of fabric, furniture and curtains are kept away at a safe distance.

Inspect you doors and windows. Your doors and windows form the primary entry points for the elements. If they are in a sorry state, the heat inside the house may find an outlet leading to higher utility bills. Here are the things you need to do.

  • Replace your summer screen with a winter screen that can withstand the winds of winter storms.

  • All loose door and window frames should be repaired.

  • Storm windows and doors should be checked for broken glasses.

  • To have a defense against draft, you should install caulking and weather stripping.

Inspect Your ventilation and insulation.  Warmth escaping outdoors or allowing cold air to seep indoors are things you want to avoid at all costs. Make sure you carry out these tasks.

  • All cracks on the walls or in the foundation should be sealed.

  • To stop buildup of ice dams, remove all insulation blocking the vents.

  • Any debris or plants on the eaves and ridge vents should also be removed.

  • Inspect the basements and the attics for the presence of moisture.

  • Have an expert check and exterminate pests that can damage the screens.

Check and test your safety gear. Various home surveys indicate that a disproportionately large number of emergency calls to the fire departments during winter are as a result of incidents not fire related, but to carbon monoxide poisoning. The odorless silent killer is mainly released by sources of heating. Particularly deadly are the fumes emitted by a leaking stove or furnaces. Ensure you do the following:

  • Check your carbon monoxide detector to determine how it is working.

  • If there is a need, replace the detector’s batteries.

  • You never know if you might be forced to evacuate your home. Review the plan for evacuation by involving the whole family in a few practice sessions.

  • If you have things like alarm systems, fire extinguishers and smoke detectors, test them.

  • To minimize any fire hazards, clean out newspapers and lint from the dryer.

  • Also have the chimney checked and cleaned out. Some fire risks include creosote or soot buildup.

  • Your flue should have a tight seal when it is closed. Test it.

  • Inspect and repair the hoses attached to the dishwasher, refrigerator, washer, and the sinks for leakages.

The tips we have considered above, we hope you realize, are mainly focused on indoor activities. Next we shall discuss ways of involving the kids in outdoor fall preparations for winter. If you have enjoyed and liked what you have read, share it!

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