You’ve prepared the menu for Thanksgiving this week, you’ve bought the ingredients, set out a schedule and know exactly how many–or few–stores you will hit up on Black Friday, but still you feel like you’ve forgotten something. Okay, your response is more likely to be cranberry sauce than winterizing your home, but still many homeowners forget to do proper annual maintenance checks that will save them time and money during the winter months when both are precious commodities. Below are some checks that I always recommend to my clients and a few suggested by Zillow.
Vacant Homes: If you own a vacant home or plan on taking a trip during the winter months, make sure to keep your house at a balmy 45 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing.
Storage: Don’t forget to put away patio furniture, cushions, hoses and cover BBQ’s and AC units to prevent damage from the elements.
Weatherstripping: Cold air can seep in through those little gaps between your door and the door frame, quickly reversing any effort you take to heat your home. Weatherstripping covers the sides and top of the door and a sweep fills the space between the threshold and door bottom. Hardware stores and home centers sell numerous products in metal, foam, rubber and plastic for this purpose and many can be installed in an afternoon.
Windows: This may be another area where additional weatherstripping or caulk is needed to fill any visible gaps, though that still might not be enough remediation to prevent drafts. While windows add much needed winter light, they can let out a lot of heat — up to 12 times more than a wall if they’re single pane. Blinds can keep a little heat in, but heavier shades or curtains will minimize heat loss.
Fireplace: Fantasizing about a cozy evening in front of the fire? Your romantic night might be cut short if your fireplace hasn’t been serviced. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys are swept at least once a year.
Furnace: It’s also recommended that furnaces be serviced once a year. A heating system can break down at the most inopportune time is it’s not serviced. Worse, it can pump carbon monoxide into a home or eventually stop working. While a furnace service can run up to $100, the cost benefits are undeniable, considering the cost of a major fix or replacement.
Ducts: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a home with central heating can lose between 10 and 30 percent of its heated air before that air reaches the vents if duct work is not well-connected and insulated, or if it must travel through unheated spaces.
Pipes: Frozen pipes are a royal nuisance, but with a little effort, many instances can be prevented. The best way to tackle these is to wrap pipes that run the exterior of the home with heating tape. Turn off the water and drain the remaining water at the inside valves. You can also purchase insulated covers for additional prevention.