TIPS + TOOLS

Have you tackled your ongoing winter maintenance?

January 28, 2019

Inspecting your home on a regular basis and following good maintenance practices are the best way to protect your investment in your home, and that includes winter maintenance. During winter months, it’s important to follow routine maintenance procedures by checking your home carefully for any problems that may arise and fixing them as soon as possible.

Whether you take care of a few tasks at a time or several all at once, it’s important to get into the habit of doing them. If you establish a routine, you’ll find the work is easy to accomplish and not very time-consuming.

A regular schedule of seasonal maintenance can put a stop to the most common — and costly — problems before they occur. If necessary, use a camera to take pictures of anything you might want to share with an expert for advice or to monitor or remind you of a situation later.

And if you are not comfortable performing some of the winter maintenance tasks listed here or lack the necessary equipment (like a ladder), consider hiring a qualified handyperson to help you.

Winter maintenance checklist

  • Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season. Filters in your ventilation system (such as a heat recovery ventilator or HRV) should be checked every two months.
  • Drain off a dishpan full of water from the clean-out valve at the bottom of your hot water tank to control sediment and maintain efficiency, being sure to consult your owner’s manual first.
  • Clean your humidifier two or three times during the winter season.
  • Vacuum your bathroom fan grille.
  • Vacuum your smoke detectors, as dust or spider webs can prevent them from functioning.
  • Vacuum radiator grilles on the back of refrigerators and freezers. Empty and clean drip trays.
  • Check the pressure gauge on all fire extinguishers; recharge or replace if necessary.
  • Check fire escape routes, door and window locks and hardware, and lighting around the outside of your house. Make sure your family has good security habits.
  • Check the basement floor drain to ensure the trap contains water; refill if necessary.
  • Monitor your home for excessive moisture levels — for example, condensation on your windows, which can cause significant damage over time and pose serious health problems — and take corrective action if necessary.
  • Check all faucets for signs of dripping and change washers as needed. Faucets requiring frequent replacement of washers may be in need of repair.
  • If you have a plumbing fixture that is not used frequently, such as a laundry tub or spare bathroom sink, tub or shower stall, run some water briefly to keep water in the trap.
  • Clean drains in your dishwasher, sinks, bathtubs and shower stalls.
  • Test plumbing shut-off valves to ensure they are working and to prevent them from seizing.
  • Examine windows and doors for ice accumulation or cold air leaks. If found, make a note to repair or replace in the spring.
  • Examine the attic for frost accumulation. Check the roof for ice dams or icicles. If there is excessive frost or staining of the underside of the roof, or ice dams on the roof surface, consult a professional about attic venting, moisture and ice dams.
  • Keep gas meters, appliance and exhaust vents and basement windows clear of snow.
  • Monitor outdoor vents, gas meters and chimneys for ice and snow buildup. Consult with an appropriate contractor or your gas utility for information on how to safely deal with any ice problems you may discover.

And on a regular basis…

While most maintenance is seasonal, there are some things you should do on a frequent basis year-round:

  • Make sure air vents indoors and outdoors (intake, exhaust and forced air) are not blocked by snow or debris.
  • Check and clean range hood filters on a monthly basis.
  • Test ground fault circuit interrupter(s) on electrical outlets monthly by pushing the test button, which should then cause the reset button to pop up. (Reset by pushing the button back in.)
  • If there are young children in the house, make sure electrical outlets are equipped with safety plugs.
  • Regularly check the house for safety hazards such as a loose handrail, lifting or buckling flooring, inoperative smoke detectors, and so on.

For the rest of our home maintenance checklist for all seasons, click here.