When you hear the phrase “home preservation,” you may think of historical houses. But isn’t all regular home maintenance really a matter of home preservation? When you care for your house, your goal is to protect against time and the elements. Preserving your home begins when you move in and then evolves over time, from season to season and year to year. Our experts put together this helpful wintertime checklist for maintenance tasks that will keep your house in great shape for decades to come.
- Detectors: The best time to check carbon monoxide detectors is wintertime, when we have our heaters cranked to the max and there’s far less ventilation. Sadly, wintertime is the peak season for carbon monoxide poisoning. From December to March, you should test your carbon monoxide detectors once a month to be sure they’re functional. Check expiration dates. Be sure to note when the batteries were last changed. If it’s been more than six months, replace them. If it’s time for an upgrade, we offer new detectors from trusted brands like BRK and First Alert. While you’re checking those CO detectors, you should do the same for your smoke detectors. Space heaters and increased kitchen usage increase fire risk during the winter months.
- Gutters: When most of the leaves have fallen and before things freeze up for the season, be sure to remove debris and clogs from your gutters and downspouts. This will help keep clogs to a minimum and help avoid ice dams and their resulting leaks and damage to foundations and roofs.
- HVAC filters: HVAC filters are meant to be changed every 1–2 months. During the coldest months, when heating is at peak usage, you’ll want to change filters more frequently. We’ve got Ace filters at the ready for every need.
- HVAC vents: Be sure your vents and heat registers are clear of debris and not blocked by furniture. Give them a quick vacuum to get rid of loose dust and dander.
- Check the exterior: It’s a good idea to walk around the house once a month, keeping an eye out for any issues like rotting wood, loosened boards or trim, or any signs of insect or rodent entry. Rodents are seeking shelter in the cold months, and if they can find a way into your walls, they will!
- Cover your air conditioning unit: Protect your A/C unit with a cover from M-D, Frost King or AC-Safe. Forgetting to do so can result in serious damage from winter weather. This is also the time to remove window units, or at least be sure they’re also covered.
- Insulate your pipes: Cover any accessible pipes with insulation by Armacell or Frost King to prevent freezing. This is especially important in less insulated areas including basements and attics. If a deep freeze is on the way, keep cabinet doors open and keep the faucet dripping.
- One last rake: Toward the very end of Fall, go over your property one last time with a rake to remove any stray leaves or debris.
- Dig those bulbs: Just after the first frost, cut your frost-tender plants down, then dig their bulbs up with a digging fork or shovel. Shake off the soil, trim stems and roots, and then lay them out in a cool (but not cold), dry place until any cut edges seal up and the bulbs feel drier to the touch. Then pack them in peat moss, pearlite, shredded paper or sterilized, dry compost, place them in mesh bags and hang them somewhere that will remain above freezing through the season.
- Seal your windows: Sealing windows helps to keep the warmth in. If the caulk is old and cracking, remove and replace it. You can also close small gaps with weather stripping. Window insulation with heat control window film is an affordable way of insulating multiple windows, as well. We’ve got caulk from GE, DAP and Sashco in stock whenever you need it. You can also come see us for weather stripping from M-D and window film from M-D and 3M.
- Watch for window condensation: Condensation on the inside of a window is very common when outdoor temperatures and humidity drop, and things warm up inside. Reduce indoor humidity by making sure showers and stoves are venting outdoors. If you have a humidifier, lower the setting to 25-35%. It’s a good idea to have a humidity monitor in the home so you can keep track. We’ve got great humidity monitors available from Craftsman, Taylor, Perfect Aire and more. Heat control window film can also help prevent condensation on single pane windows.
- Clean your drains: Make sure drains are clear of debris. Give them a good clean with an auger or snake from Cobra, available at Rocky’s Ace. Follow up by pouring baking soda and vinegar down the drain, cover for 15 minutes, and rinse with hot water.
- Inspect and clean your chimney: Every year, as cold weather approaches, have your chimney inspected and cleaned. Buildup of soot and damage to the chimney can both cause fire and carbon monoxide hazards.
- Cover or put away patio furniture: Winter weather can do some serious damage to your outdoor furniture. If you have a shed or basement to store it in, do so. If not, be sure to cover it securely with well-fitting weatherproof covers. Check out our fitted outdoor furniture covers from Classic Accessories for some great options.
- Shut off exterior spigots: This is very important as temperatures plummet to help avoid frozen pipes.
- Drain and store garden hoses: Garden hoses left outside with water inside are prone to cracking when the ice inside expands. Drain them well before the first freeze and bring them into a basement or garage for the season. Heaven forbid you lose a hose to the elements, come get a quality replacement hose by Ace.
- Winterize your RV: Get your recreational vehicle ready for the winter by draining all tanks, running the hot and cold faucets, blowing out the water lines and adding Champion RV/Marine antifreeze. Your owner’s manual should have good tips on exactly how your vehicle should be prepared for the winter.
- Get that snowblower ready for action: Do a quick tune-up on your snowblower to make sure it’s ready when that first storm hits. Change the oil, check the spark plug, and check the belts for wear. You should also drain any gas in the tank from last winter and replace it with fresh. Lubricate the drive and chassis. Make sure it starts easily—if not, take it in for service.
Home preservation is a commitment to home ownership. It’s a way of maximizing your investment and quality of life and ensuring that your house will continue to be the home you want it to be for many years to come. As always, we are happy to offer our expert advice on any of your home preservation concerns. Just come visit us at a location near you.