December is here. Before enjoying holiday time it’s a good idea to check on a few home safety and maintenance items so you enter the new year prepared for any issues that cold weather brings.
Tips to Help You Stay Warm
Change Your Furnace Filter
Doing so keeps your furnace operating efficiently and helps to keep allergens and dust levels down in your home. Dusting furnishings and hard-surface floors regularly can help diminish the amount of dust pulled into your HVAC unit, too.
Have your HVAC units serviced to ensure they’re in tip-top order before the mercury drops.
Check Windows and Doors For Drafts
Add weather stripping, caulk, or even storm windows and doors, as necessary to keep yourselves warm and your heating bills low.
Check and Service Your Backup Generator
Winter rain and ice storms can bring down tree limbs and power lines. If you have a backup generator be sure to test its operation. Add fluids if necessary so you know you’ll be warm if a winter power outage occurs.
Check Gas Fireplace or Starter Components
If you have a gas fireplace make sure that your pilot light is operational. If you have a wood burning fireplace with a gas starter clean out any existing ashes and make sure the starter is clear. Be sure to have your fireplace inspected every few years by a professional chimney inspector. Make sure you’ve got a stock of firewood that’s sufficient to see you through an emergency period.
Clear Your Gutters
Clean gutters will ensure that water doesn’t gush over their edges during a downpour on a frigid winter day or night.
Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
Flip the switch on your ceiling fans so the blades run clockwise. This will push the warm air down to keep rooms, especially those with high ceilings, warmer.
Flush Your Hot Water Heater
Flushing out sediment in your hot water heater helps to maximize its efficiency and extend the appliance’s life. This periodic maintenance will help keep your heating bills down. If your hot water heater sits in an unheated area of your home, such as an unfinished basement or a garage, wrapping it with an insulating blanket can help keep the water in it hot and lower your heating costs. Many homeowners flush their water heater tanks themselves, but licensed plumbers can perform a full maintenance check on this appliance and flush it for you, too.
Tips to Help You Stay Fed
Clean Your Oven Hood
This appliance absorbs grease, which can cause grease fires. It also pulls smoke out of your kitchen. Make sure that it’s clean of grease and dirt and change or wash any accessible filters.
Make Sure Your Outdoor Grill Has a Good Gas Supply
Keep a good supply of butane gas if your gas grill is not connected to a gas line. If the power goes out, an outdoor gas grill can be your best backup for an electric range.
Protect Water Pipes
Water in pipes can freeze and break the pipes when the temperature drops below 32 degrees. Burst pipes can gush water and quickly cause expensive damage to your home. Insulate any water pipes in unheated areas of your home. Unfinished basements and attic spaces are at the highest risk for cold-weather breaks. Pipes along exterior walls can also benefit from being insulated. Pipe wrap insulation is easy to apply and available at most home improvement stores and hardware stores.
Be sure you know the location of your home’s water shutoff valve just in case of an emergency leak.
Tips to Keep You Safe
Keep Back Up Lights in Working Order
Check or change batteries in flashlights and battery-operated lanterns. Make sure that you have enough non-electrical light sources to get you through a couple of dark nights if the power goes out during a winter ice or rain storm.
Test and Change Detector Batteries
Test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to ensure they’re working properly and change the batteries if necessary. This is one of the most critical ways to keep you and your family safe.
Check Your Outdoor Lighting
Change burned-out bulbs before the cold weather sets in so your walkways are well lit during the winter when we have fewer daylight hours and to prevent slips on snowy or icy surfaces.
Keep Your Sidewalks and Driveway Clear
Make sure your snow shovel is accessible and lay in a supply of salt in case of snow and ice. Slipping on slick surfaces can cause injuries to your family or visitors to your home. Salts made for deicing concrete can be found at most home improvement and hardware stores.
Tips to Help Protect Your Outdoor Furnishings
Store Your Lawn Equipment
Now that your landscape plants are winterized it pays to clean and perform maintenance on blowers, chippers, edgers, lawn mowers, tillers, trimmers, and all yard equipment before storing it safely in garden sheds or garage storage areas. This effort will keep your equipment running efficiently and extend its life. Drain, wind up, and store water hoses to prevent cracking, too.
Protect Your Patio Furniture and Grill
Prevent rusting and wear of patio furniture by storing it in the garage, basement, or garden shed; or by covering it with a tarp. Many gas grills come with weather-proof covers. Be sure to snuggle them up to protect against the elements. Grill covers can be purchased at most home improvement and hardware stores.
Stay warm and cozy this winter and watch this space for seasonal home maintenance tips and reminders.
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