During the winter, you’ll likely be spending more time inside your home — so why not make sure it’s cozy and protected from the season’s harsh elements? Invest in the right home projects, and you can improve your home’s value, your family’s comfort and even your safety.
For homeowners wondering what tasks to handle this winter, read the following winter home maintenance checklist. It outlines several essential to-do’s — both big and small — to undertake this season.
Central heating should be the primary focus for homeowners in the fall and early winter. As the temperatures begin to plummet, a home’s heating system becomes an integral part of comfort and safety. Additionally, a heating system that isn’t maintained throughout the year can lead to costly repairs down the road.
As soon as fall or early winter arrives, hire a licensed and reputable professional to inspect your furnace, boiler and HVAC system. This can prevent downtime during the random cold days leading up to the normal ongoing winter chill.
Start the winter season with a complete HVAC inspection, and tackle any repairs needed to keep your family safe and warm.
Related content: The best HVAC maintenance tips.
When it’s chilly outside, nothing sounds better than taking a shower or spending an hour (or two) in a bubble bath. Unless that water is ice cold.
Prevent hot water mishaps by staying on top of maintaining your water heater. Hire a professional to flush your tank and add insulation to your pipes and tank. They should also check the water heater’s temperature, test the pressure relief valve and inspect your anode rod.
A fun home maintenance item for the winter months is to add a fresh coat of paint to your home's interior. Fresh paint contributes to your home’s overall feeling and ambiance, says Shannon Katz of Smart Construction Consultants Inc. And during the darker, colder winter months, adding uplifting or warm colors to make your home cozier. For example, colors such as yellow, orange and red can provide warmth. Or, choose colors like gray, charcoal and blue for a sophisticated winter wonderland look.
If you want to makeover several rooms and need help deciding which colors to choose for your room — as well as furnishings such as decorative pillows, throws, lighting and other accessories — hire an interior decorator.
As winter approaches, walk through your kitchen and bathrooms and inspect the faucets, sinks, pipes and other plumbing fixtures.
How do you know if you have a leak? The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) provides this key tip: “Take a look at your water usage during a colder month, such as January or February. If a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, there are serious leaks.” Other signs of a leak include:
While a small drip here or a small leak there might not seem like a lot, the EPA points out that one leaky faucet can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water in a year. Not only that, but leaks can also lead to permanent water damage. Contact a plumber if you suspect your plumbing fixtures have leaks.
Plumbing fixture checklist:
In addition to inspecting your home for plumbing leaks, make sure you don’t have any frozen pipes. This is especially important if you live in a region where the weather gets below freezing and if you have:
Take steps to winterize your irrigation system. For example, drain the water from your sprinkler system and turn it off for the season (if you haven't done so already).
A frozen pipe could burst if you don’t address it, leaving water and structural damage, slippery conditions (if the burst occurs outside) and a costly repair bill in its wake. Look for signs of frozen pipes — lack of running water, weird odors, visible frost — in your home, and contact a plumber near you if you notice any.
If your household tends to spend more time indoors due to colder temperatures, consider hiring a house cleaner to deep clean your home. Deep leaning covers areas that aren’t covered in standard house cleanings. And when deep cleaning your home, the house cleaner will spend more time addressing certain areas (e.g., a bathroom) to remove dirt, grime and scum.
Although they differ by company, some examples of deep cleaning services include:
A thorough deep cleaning can help make your home feel cleaner and more inviting throughout the winter months.
Speaking of cleanliness, get your carpets cleaned too. Cleaning your home’s carpets will add freshness just in time for the holidays and help protect your household’s health.
Because carpets can trap dirt, dust mites, pet dander and other pollutants and allergens, the American Lung Association recommends deep cleaning your carpet once a year using dry steam cleaning. If you don’t have the necessary equipment or skills to deep clean your carpets, schedule an appointment with a professional carpet cleaning service near you.
Carpet cleaning checklist:
Winter is a good time to check the locks on your doors and to tighten any loose screws. If a lock has been sticking or a doorknob has stripped screws, it might be worth hiring a locksmith to install a new lock and doorknob set to keep your family safe — especially if you plan on spending time away from home during the holidays and in the new year.
And if you don’t have one already, consider installing a home security system for additional protection.
As the freezing temperatures set in, check for areas in the house where heat can escape. Heat can escape through your windows and doors where weatherstripping or caulking has deteriorated, leading to an increase in energy bills and a less comfortable home.
Ideally, you would’ve insulated your home in the fall before winter arrives. However, it’s better late than never.
If you haven’t insulated your home, inspect the following areas that should be protected during the winter:
With proper insulation, you can help lower your heating costs and keep freezing weather at bay. Reach out to an insulation contractor near you to help you address these areas in your home.
Tired of dealing with cold toes after walking barefoot on your freezing tile floors in your drafty bathroom every morning? A radiant floor heating system might be your answer. This system increases the temperature in a room from the floor up.
The most common types of radiant floor heat are electric and hydronic floors. With an electric system, electric cables are built into the floor. If you opt for a hydronic system, heated water is pumped from the boiler through tubing under the floor. Hydronic radiant floor heating is the most common and cost-effective of the two options, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Find heated floor installers near you and hire a pro to upgrade your home.
Many home maintenance projects that can make your home more enjoyable during the winter months are those that can transform your home from “just a house” to a “cozy home.” For example, fireplace refacing can make a big difference in your home’s appearance.
While you’re at it, consider hiring a chimney sweep to handle any necessary chimney repairs and cleaning. This can help ensure your family remains safe when using a wood-burning fireplace or stove.
Fireplace and chimney checklist:
If your home uses a septic tank, it’s a good idea to have it pumped every three to five years, recommends the EPA.
Pumping your septic tank before having family over for the holidays can prevent unwanted mishaps. And when the holidays are over, a properly maintained septic tank will lower the chances of you incurring a costly repair bill and protect your property value. Maintaining your tank can help protect the environment, your household and neighbors, states the EPA.
Septic tank checklist:
In the fall, leaves, twigs and other debris can build up in your gutters — which can cause severe damage to your roof during the winter. If you don’t remove the debris from your gutters, it can trap moisture that can freeze and eventually form ice dams.
Cleaning out your gutters once fall has ended can also help you prevent sagging gutters, mildew, mold and pests.
Gutter cleaning checklist:
Upgrading, adding or changing the lights in your home can create a brighter, more inviting space during the winter months. With the sun setting earlier and the general feeling of colder, darker days, upgrading your home’s lights can improve your family’s mood.
For example, recessed lighting in your ceiling can provide ambient, task or accent lighting, and it’s a great way to draw eyes to a focal point in your home. Cove lighting offers a touch of elegance, while pendants tend to be more decorative. Research different styles and contact a lighting installation pro to install the fixtures for you.
Before winter fully sets in, take the time to clean up your home’s outdoor living space and remove (or protect) items that may get damaged during rain or snowstorms.
For example, put away any of the following items you won’t need until spring:
And don’t forget to tend to your plants, trees and garden. Maintain your lawn and garden by removing weeds. If you experience dry winters, hydrate your plants by watering them. Rake your leaves. And ask your landscaper to take steps to protect your lawn during the season.
Depending on the type of trees you have in your yard, winter might be the perfect time to prune them. If your trees are dormant during the winter, pruning them during this season could help protect their health and encourage growth.
Even if your tree isn’t dormant right now, it might be necessary to cut dead branches or tree limbs that pose a safety hazard — especially during a storm. Consider hiring a professional tree trimming service to get cut off branches you don’t need.
A swimming pool — whether an in-ground or above-ground pool — can be a significant investment and require regular maintenance. One of the most crucial steps in pool maintenance is winterizing your pool. This process will help protect your pool from winter’s harsh elements.
To winterize your pool, a professional will usually do these basic steps:
You don’t have to do all of this — find and hire a top-rated pool cleaner near you.
If you live in an area that receives frequent snowfall during the winter, schedule snow plowing services. These pros can help clear your driveway so you don’t have to worry about having a clear path so you can run errands, go work or leave your home in the case of an emergency.
When it's snowy and wet outside, there's a good chance all of that muck will enter your home, especially near your front door and entryway. To protect your flooring, lay down a mat or a rug. And buy something (like bench with a shoe rack or cubbies) where people can place their boots and shoes when they enter your home. You can also add hooks so people hang their raincoats.
This winter, add value to your home while improving safety and comfort by crossing these home maintenance tasks off your list. If these projects are too much for you to handle on your own, don’t hesitate to use Thumbtack to find a home maintenance professional.
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