Easy Home Maintenance Tips for Winter

by Lauren Busser Direct from the Designers™’ Editorial Director

You’ve gotten your sweaters out of the closet, found your winter coat, mittens and scarves to bundled yourself up nicely against the winter cold. Just like your personal preparations for winter, your home needs its own protection from the elements. Keeping your home sealed is key to your comfort as well as saving money down the road.

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Make Sure Your Gutters are Clear

Fall leaves might look pretty but once they fall off the tree and onto your home they can easily clog your gutters, which could lead to water damage. Once the leaves are down you want to make sure that you clear your gutters so that rain and melting snow can easily drain. A clogged gutter can form an ice dam, where water backs up and freezes on the roof and then leaks in creating roof and ceiling damage.

One important step to remember when you are cleaning your gutters is to check your downspouts to make sure that they are clear, and carry the water at least ten feet away from your home’s foundation.

Check for Air Leaks

They may not be damaging like water leaks, but air leaks can be costly. All the air seeping out of your home can increase your heating bill by 10 percent, so finding these leaks is key to protecting your budget.

To find these leaks, pick a breezy day, and walk around the inside of your home holding a lit incense stick near your windows and doors, being careful of flammable items. You can caulk and weatherstrip the leaks around your windows and stop under-door drafts with door sweeps. To fix the leaks on the exterior of your home, you can use weather-resistant caulk or masonry sealer which will stand up to freezing and thawing.

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Owen's Corning AttiCat Expanding Blown-In Insulation System

Have Sufficient Insulation

An easy way to save money during the winter season is to make sure you have enough insulation in your attic. Insulating your attic is an investment that sees really quick returns. Most regions of the United States will require about 12 inches of insulation in the attic, but a general rule of thumb is that if you can see your ceiling joists you don’t have enough insulation. For reference, an average ceiling joist is between 10 and 11 inches.

Check Your Furnace

Before the cold weather hits, make sure that you check out your furnace. There may be a short-lived odor the first time you turn it on but the smell should dissipate shortly after opening a window. If the smell persists then you should call your technician.

Getting your furnace cleaned and tuned annually and changing your filters regularly throughout the winter will keep your furnace running smoothly all season. A dirty filter will hinder airflow and efficiency. In extreme cases, they could even cause a fire so don't ignore them.

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Heat & Glo Energy Pro Glas Fireplace

Get Your Chimney Inspected

You really should get your chimney inspected annually. Hire a chimney sweep and ask for a Level 1 inspection which includes an examination of all readily accessible portions of your chimney. Some chimney sweeps may include a Level 1 inspection with a sweep.

You can also take preventative measures to make sure that foreign objects don’t end up in your chimney. A protective cap will help keep out large objects like birds and baseballs, and also protect your chimney and flue from heavy rain. When buying a protective cap, make durability rather than appearance your primary focus.

Make Sure Your Alarms Work

Install fresh batteries in smoke and CO detectors and test them to make sure they are functioning properly. Also make sure that your fire extinguishers are still pressurized and within their inspection dates. Now might also be a good time to review your fire escape plan.

Remembering these maintenance tips will help you and your family remain warm and comfortable this winter season.

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