Winter weather can be tough on your home. But if you undertake some preventative maintenance tasks each winter you can stretch your big-ticket maintenance costs.
The following do-it-yourself chores may take a couple of hours to complete, but they'll help keep your home in top condition throughout the cold months.
D E C E M B E R
Each year when you dig out your holiday decorations, take some time to make a visual inspection of your attic. First, check the roof and gable vents to make sure they are clear because the screens can act like lint traps. These vents are paramount because they keep the attic cool during summer. You don't want to get stuck checking these vents in the summer, when temperatures can soar into the 100s. And unobstructed vents allow moist air to escape from the attic in cold weather, lessening the possibility of condensation and mildew in the attic.
While you're up there, check for wasp nests and other signs of pests. During the winter months, wasps are dormant and their nests are easier to remove.
J A N U A R Y
This is the time to make sure all the doorknobs in your home are working properly. Often, doorknobs can loosen to the point that they no longer function. A doorknob that pulls off can trap an individual inside a room.
Once a year, tighten the retaining screws that hold a doorknob to its spindle. Also, the screws in the faceplate (on the doorknob) often loosen and need tightening. If the screw hole is larger than the screw, fill it with wood putty. And check the strike plates and latch plates for loose screws.
While checking each doorknob and latch, lubricate each with a bit of chemical lubricant. Don't use household oil because it can gum up the hardware.
F E B R U A R Y
Though temperatures can fall below freezing during most of this month, the spring rains are not too far away. Hence, this is a good time to inspect your home's sump pump, if it has one. During a rainstorm, water around a house is diverted via pipes into the sump pump pit then ejected into the sewer system by the pump. If the pump isn't working, your basement can flood.
Remove the sump pit's cover and make sure the bottom of the pit is free of debris. Then, test the pump by pouring water into the pit until it rises about eight inches or so, raising the pump's ballcock. The pump should then vacuum the water out of the pit via a vertical pipe.
If the pump isn't working properly, it's probably less expensive to replace it rather than fix it.
Also, check the exhaust pipe for leakage. And, if your home has window wells around the basement windows, check to make sure that the drains in those are clear of leaves or other debris. Otherwise, water can enter through the windows.
Make sure you change the batteries on all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home at least twice a year. Fire Department officials recommend that this is done in the spring and fall when we reset our clocks and "fall back" and "spring ahead".
Although most homeowners think of it as a spring or fall job, check your gutters for debris every other month. A clogged gutter can caused water damage to a home when rainwater backs up over the gutter and washes over the side of a house.
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