Old Man Winter has made his travel plans and will be arriving at your destination soon. Is your home ready for his arrival?
As a property owner, you have to prepare your dwelling for the changing seasons. Here are eight home tips you should know this winter to keep your den a safe and cozy retreat until spring.
1. Monitor Your Humidity Levels
If you want to prevent seasonal colds and flu, monitoring the moisture level of your indoor air can help. Your mucous membranes serve as your body’s first line of defense against germs, and dry air pumped through your HVAC system can dry these passages, leaving you ripe for infection. Fortunately, it costs relatively little to invest in a hygrometer or indoor humidity thermometer.
What should you strive for? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends staying between 30% to 50% humidity, although you might fall near the lower end during the winter months. Condensation on your windows isn’t necessarily a sign of excess moisture in your air, although daily fog could indicate bigger issues that you need to address, like inadequate ventilation.
2. Check for (and Correct) Drafts
It isn’t only window fog that should concern you. If you catch a draft while sitting by your bay window, that sensation represents your heating oil dollars escaping out your windows. Fortunately, you might not need a full replacement. You can handle many repairs with a caulk gun.
Talk to your local hardware store associate about the best type to buy to reinforce your window panes. Before heading to the big box retailer, inspect your doorways, too. You can further reduce drafts by replacing the weather stripping around entryways.
3. Change Your Air Filters
You spend more time indoors during the winter, and much of the air you breathe recirculates through your interior. If your HVAC’s filtration system isn’t working up to snuff, you could endure more frequent illnesses and allergies.
Maintenance starts with changing your filters. The EPA recommends doing so every three months at a minimum, although the unique conditions at your property might demand more frequent swaps. For example, if you have pets or smokers in the house, you might need to change them monthly. Do so when you pay your rent or mortgage so that you don’t forget.
4. Keep Your Walkways Clear
Failing to shovel your sidewalks can result in slips and falls that leave you with hospital bills and injuries. Worse, you could be liable for harm to passersby. Several states and many local jurisdictions have ordinances dictating snow-removal musts.
Be careful — injuries like heart attacks often happen while shoveling. It is an athletic activity, so warm up first and take frequent breaks. You can use a deicer like salt to keep sidewalks clear from ice. Snow-melting mats can help keep your front walkway clear during all but the worst blizzards and are indispensable for those with health issues who find clearing snow difficult.
5. Protect Your Pipes From Freezing
Are you heading home — as in traveling to a relative’s house — for the holidays? You don’t want to return to burst pipes.
Keep your indoor air temperature set to at least 55 degrees when you travel. Yes, it’s tempting to turn off the thermostat, but the cost of repairs could far outstrip any potential savings. Leave kitchen and bathroom cabinets open to encourage airflow and leave cold water dripping from the faucet to prevent freezing.
6. Insulate Your Garage — and Check Elsewhere
You might dread winter if your home office sits above your garage. Insulating the space below can keep your tootsies more comfortable, even when you go barefoot.
Insulating your garage has additional heat and vehicle-saving benefits. Extreme cold can cause engine damage, costing you a bundle at the mechanic. Plus, every time you open the door leading from your interior to the garage, you drop your home’s temperature if this space is left freezing.
Inspect your attic insulation while you’re at it. Look at the seals around pipes and exhaust vents and seal any cracks.
7. Clear Away Landscape Debris
You won’t see your yard under a foot of snow. Why should you clean it first?
One reason is to prevent structural damage to your home. Overhanging tree limbs can put a hole right through your roof, and even large shrubbery can break window glass if it storms heavily enough. Breaking up the soil in garden beds aerates it, allowing nutrients to penetrate more deeply for next year’s plantings.
8. Clean Your Gutters
Even if your home isn’t under threat from wayward tree limbs, shed leaves clogging your gutters can lead to the need for major repairs. Water can accumulate on your roof, leaking down into your drywall.
When this occurs, you can develop dangerous mold growth that causes headaches and other unpleasant physical symptoms in you and your family. Worse, the moisture could spark an electrical fire. All this is preventable by cleaning your gutters before the first snowfall. Consider calling in a pro if you have a 2-or-more story home, and wear a hard hat if attempting to DIY.
Home Tips You Should Know This Winter
Your house is your castle, and you want to maintain its value throughout every season. Please heed these eight home tips you should know this winter.
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