Home Maintenance Check List
So winter is half way over and the thought of spring is on the minds of many of us. But since we still have a few months of cold weather left, let’s make sure that we help our houses deal with them the best they can.
1. Replace Furnace Filters: Go check your furnace filter. If you don’t know where this is located then it’s really time to replace it. Your furnace will have a small access door of some sort next to the air handler. Replace this filter at least twice a year but even more if you like to breath clean air and don’t want to burn out your furnace motor. This is like changing the oil on your car – you just need to make a point of doing it. Your furnace works hardest over the winter to keep up with cold weather and since doors and windows are kept shut, they are forced to re-circulate the same air over and over. Keep your filters clean to keep your furnace from having to work too hard and to keep your family breathing clean air. If you find that your current filter has enough lint built up on it, salvage the entire mess in one layer and stitch it into a sweater. This will get you ahead for Christmas next year.
2. Replace Humidifier Filters: Don’t forget about your humidifier. The filters are designed to hold water as air passes through them but they also filter out dust from the air and need to be replaced regularly.
3. Fill Water Softeners: I hate lugging bags of salt home from the store and down to the basement as much as any of you but you can’t stop doing this just because it’s cold outside. Check your water softener and add salt if needed. If you have a nicer water filtration system than me, just keep it to yourself. Just take pride in the fact that the rest of us are jealous.
4. Clean Refrigerator Coils: You know how you like to breathe through your mouth without a huge ball of dog hair and lint covering your lips. Your fridge feels the same way. Fridge coils should be cleaned twice a year to keep the appliance operating efficiently and to prolong its life. Remove the front grill, just under the doors, and use a yardstick with a rag taped around the end to reach under and clean the coils or use a shop-vac with a narrow attachment to suck the lint off. Pull out the fridge and vacuum or wipe down whatever you can access from the back side. Or even better, make your teenager do it – after all, why did you raise the kid if you can’t get a little free labor from him.
5. Remove Window Screens: If you have not already, consider removing your window screens and storing them in your basement. Ice can damage the screens over the winter. Also, if you do your major window cleaning in the spring, they will already be out when you start your spring cleaning.
6. Seal Doors & Windows: By now, you should be aware of any doors or windows that are drafty. Adjust or repair them to minimize heat loss or install plastic window covers for the remainder of the winter if the draft can’t be stopped.
7. Take It Easy on the Ice Melt: Seriously folks – ice melt is not a replacement for a shovel. Yes it is a spectacular piece of space age technology that allows you to magically vanquish ice from your drive without straining your back, but as Once Upon A Time has taught us “Magic comes with a price”. Ice melt is hard on concrete and even harder on steel railings. There are a lot of types out there ranging from the calcium and magnesium based down to your regular rock salt. They are all hard on building materials so don’t use more than you need to and make sure the clean around the base of steel railing posts as they speed up the rusting process and can easily gnaw through a steel post in just a few winters. Or even better, pull out that shovel and get your butt in gear.
8. Plan for Exterior Repairs: As much as I would love to see someone slide off their roof and land in the bushes the classic Chevy Chaise style, I don’t recommend doing exterior repairs during the winter if you don’t have to but I do recommend that you plan to do them in the spring. Pay attention to any areas on the house that are showing problems during the winter and plan the repairs for the coming spring. This includes ice build-up or dripping from gutters that may be signs of a leak. Also watch for damaged siding or trim that may allow moisture in when snow builds up. Come to think of it, real people die when they all off their roofs – that’s not very funny so just wait till it gets warm.
9. Adjust Fridge Temperature: It’s normal for your fridge or freezer to get colder than normal during the winter. After all, they don’t have to fight the warm summer temperatures. Turn them up a few degrees and save yourself a few dollars during the winter. If you’re like my dad, you can just turn off the heat in the house, open up the front door and unplug the fridge. Get your wife a good sweater and you’re on your way to saving some big bucks – but I wouldn't recommend this.
10. Don’t Forget About Landscaping: If you live in a dry climate and don’t receive much snow over the winter, your evergreen trees can actually get dehydrated and die over the winter. It’s OK to hook up a hose on a warm day and water pines or other evergreen trees or bushes during the winter. Just make sure to disconnect the hose when you are done so you don’t get a freeze break.
Have another winter maintenance idea?
Share it with us so we can benefit from your experiance.