It’s time to make sure your homes are ready for winter. Homes are usually our single biggest investment yet we often don’t protect them the way we should. Here is a list of inexpensive maintenance items that can prevent expensive fixes in the middle of winter.
Disconnect and drain garden hoses from outside faucets. Insulate outside faucets.
Drain or blow out in-ground sprinkler systems. Having someone blow out your sprinkler for $40 is much cheaper than having to dig up your lawn and replace broken pipes.
Clear debris out of window wells, gutters, down spouts and storm drains. Flush with water after cleaning to make sure there are no hidden obstructions.
Add extensions to downspouts if they don’t send water at least four feet from your home’s foundation. You can find flexible extensions at home improvement stores for as little as $10.
Empty fuel tanks of all gas powered lawn equipment before storing them in your garage for the winter. This will remove a potential fire hazard and prevent the carburetor from getting gummed up.
Caulk ($4 – $6 per tube) around windows and doors. If there is a crack bigger than the width of a nickel then you should reapply caulk to prevent water from getting in and warm air from getting out.
Add weather stripping ($.30 – $.70 per foot) to doors as needed. You should not be able to see daylight from inside.
Check your roof for damaged or missing shingles. Also check for damage to flashing seals around vents and chimneys. A tube of flashing sealant costs about $7.
If you have a wood burning stove or fireplace you should have your chimney professionally inspected annually.
Have your furnace inspected by a professional, replace the filter ($10 – $40) and clear ducts and vents of anything that may have fallen in them.
Check and replace fire extinguishers if necessary. Put new batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Check for air leaks around windows and doors. An easy way to do this is with an incense stick. A leak will cause the smoke to blow in a different direction.
Check under your house to make sure all water pipes are insulated. A six foot length of pipe insulation can be purchased for $7 to $10.