THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON HUFFINGTON POST.
Now that winter is in full swing, it’s a good time to see how your home is faring against the weather.
If you didn’t take steps to winterize your home in the fall, there’s a good chance you’ve got some work to do. Here’s a quick winter home maintenance checklist to help you get things in shape and avoid costly repairs come spring:
#1 Clean the fireplace
A fireplace keeps things warm and cozy, and it is also easy and inexpensive to maintain. The key is to have your fireplace cleaned annually, before you start using it in the fall and winter. After a particularly frigid winter, there’s a good chance that creosote — an extremely flammable oil produced by coal or wood ash smoke — will build up on the interior of the chimney. If it’s not removed, it can catch fire when you light your fireplace. To get your fireplace fire-ready, hire a chimney cleaner to rid your it of creosote and other build-up.
#2 Check your plumbing pipes
If your pipes have started to make strange noises, the cold weather is probably putting a strain on them. It’s a good idea to have your pipes checked if they are particularly old, or if you live an area that’s been hit with below-freezing weather. When water builds up in pipes and freezes, it can cause leaks, cracks and breaks. If this happens, you’ll likely need a plumber to come out and fix your pipes to avoid flooding. This also presents a chance to update your pipes should they need it.
#3 Inspect your roof
Your roof endures the brunt of wintry conditions to protect your home, wearing down over time. Check your roof regularly for signs of damage. Weather conditions can cause shingles and tiles to break and create exposed areas in the underlayment where leaks and holes can form, which allows water to seep through to your attic. Have a roofing professional check your roof and perform necessary repairs. Homeowners reportedly spend an average of about $620 on roof repairs, depending on the extent of damage.
#4 Maintain your heating system
Your heating system works overtime in the winter, especially if you’re turning the heat up to 70 or 80 degrees. If you have an outdated thermostat — one that’s not used to regulating the internal temperature — your heating system is turning on every five to 10 minutes. Have your heating system checked by a professional if you hear strange noises coming from the vents, or if you suddenly notice cold spots in parts of your home. This could indicate a problem with the ventilation. Don’t wait for the ultimate issue — your heating system to go completely kaput — before you have it serviced. Have a heating professional perform regular maintenance on your system to keep it in working order. And consider turning the heat down at night to give your it a break.
#5 Hang extra window treatments
Consider hanging extra curtains and blinds in the living room and bedrooms to help insulate and keep the heat in. On sunny days, open them and let the light in to warm up the rooms; at night, close them tightly to keep the warm air in and prevent cold air from getting through. Thermal curtains offer added lining for increased insulation.
#6 Assess your insulation
Attic insulation protects your ceilings from air leakage. If your insulation is worn from years of weather or pest infestations, your heating system is working double time to counter cold air coming from the attic. Because laying attic insulation yourself presents numerous hazards — a potential to fall through the ceiling and exposure to lung-harming chemicals, for example — it is recommended that you call a home insulation contractor. An insulation professional has the knowledge, experience and safety equipment required to properly lay insulation and keep your ceiling intact.
#7 Clear snow from driveways and walkways
Snow and ice build-up can be dangerous. For your safety, and for the safety of your family members and neighbors, it is important to immediately plow or shovel snow and cover traffic areas with salt. A snow removal service can quickly rid your yard of snow piled by city plows.