The pride of homeownership comes with the responsibility to take care of the place. If you are new to owning your own home, or if you’ve been letting things slide for a few years, here are a few tips to get you on the right track this winter.
Fire safety first
While there are many home maintenance projects you should stay on top of, if you’re going to do no other home maintenance this season, at least check your smoke detector. If you don’t have a smoke detector, consider that if you are asleep when a fire starts, the smoke will knock you unconscious before you even realize there is a problem.
This is also a good time to upgrade to a smoke detector that has a hidden and inaccessible ten year battery. This new technology not only saves your life if you forget to change the batteries every six months, it also saves your life if your teenager harvests the batteries for his playstation and forgets to tell you.
If you or someone who lives in the same house is hard of hearing, you will need specialized smoke detectors with strobe lights. Regardless of what kind of detector you’re using, you need to make sure that it’s working and throw out any that are approaching 10 years in age or more.
You will also need at least one combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector, preferably located near the gas furnace or water heater.
While you are at it, check your clothes dryer to make sure everyone in the house is cleaning the lint screen. Fire experts now say that a whopping 92 percent of fires are caused by clothes dryers. The lint screen needs to be cleaned after every load. Convene a family meeting if that is not happening.
Routine maintenance saves on repair bills
The day your refrigerator or HVAC blower goes out may not be absolutely the worst day in your life, but it causes its share of misery. One good way to extend the life of your appliances is to clean or change the filters on the ones that have filters.
Replacing the filter on your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC) protects a really high cost item. Replacing an HVAC typically costs between $4,000 and $10,000 depending on its size. You might be surprised to know, however, that
it’s possible to buy filters that are too efficient. So efficient they interfere with the airflow through your house.
Bob Vila recommends a permanent electrostatic filter for your HVAC. These filters have the advantage of being washable, making them quite a bit cheaper than throw away fiberglass filters. They’re not really permanent, though. Once they become too hard to clean, you need to throw them out.
If your refrigerator has an ice maker and/or water dispenser, it most likely also has a related filter that needs to be cleaned.
If you live in a region with hard winters, you need to get ahead of that curve now. Go ahead and wrap pipes in your basement or anywhere they are exposed to the cold. The best kind of wrapping is automatic electric heating tape which somehow senses when it is cold and turns itself on.
Now is also the time to visually check every inch of your house for any cracks or holes that have sprung up since this time last year. Fill those gaps with putty or spray foam. Be sure to go up into the attic and down into the basement. Holes in the basement walls are very common, especially in houses that are twenty or more years old.
Don’t neglect your car
Last but not least, you’ll need to do a few things to get your truck or car ready for the winter. In addition to changing the oil and checking your battery, you’ll also want to pay attention to the ratio of water to coolant in your engine. Getting windshield
wiper fluid with antifreeze will also help you combat snow and ice during the chillier months. And if you have to leave your vehicle out in the elements this winter, considering investing in a durable cover to protect it from damage.
It can be hard to find time to work on your house, but doing a few hours of maintenance this season could save you quite a few dollars in repairs or overly high heating costs. So buckle on the tool kit and get cracking!
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.