Home Preservation Tips for the Harsh Winter Months
For many people, a house is the most valuable asset they possess. Unfortunately, homes are not impervious to wear and tear. The winter season can be especially rough on a home's components which is why regular home maintenance should be a top priority for homeowners. The following are some routine upkeep recommendations for winter home maintenance.
Clean the Gutters and Prune Trees
Once the leaves have fallen from the trees, many don't make it to the ground. Instead they can end up clogging gutters, creating ice dams and damaging the roof, siding, and foundation of a home. This is especially true if trees are hanging too far over the roof of a house. Because this can be a dangerous job for two-story homeowners, contact a professional to clean out the gutters yearly and consider pruning any trees that pose the risk of breaking due to ice and landing on the roof.
Check the Condition of Roof and Attic Insulation
To prevent melting snow from leaking into the attic, make sure the roof is not missing any shingles and that all areas are in good repair. Also check that the flashing around chimneys and other vents are secure.
Attic insulation is especially important in keeping snow and ice from melting faster than it can be drained off the roof. If it melts too fast, ice dams can build up and lead to blocked gutters. The sheer weight of ice and snow buildup can weaken a home's roof. Energystar.gov recommends that all attics be insulated with at least 10-14 inches of R-38 (or better) insulation. This prevents the heat from the living areas of a home from reaching the roof. Another way to ease the stress on a roof is the use of a good roof rake after snowfalls.
Schedule a Furnace Assessment
In order to extend the life of the HVAC system, getting a yearly inspection is essential. Not only will a qualified technician clean and lubricate the furnace's parts, they will test the thermostat settings, inspect the condensate drain, check electrical connections and change the air filter. The entire process will guarantee peace of mind and safety for the homeowner and smooth HVAC operation on even the coldest of days.
When pipes are located in the exterior walls of the home or are in areas that are not heated, they are at risk for freezing and bursting in extreme cold temperatures. To prevent this from happening, homeowners should purchase foam insulation for installation on the necessary pipes. In addition, keeping a small trickle of water running through a faucet will also help to prevent freezing.
Install the Proper Weatherstripping
Air leaks around doors and windows are one of the biggest energy drains in a home. To seal up windows, a simple rope caulk where the window units meet and around the frame should keep warm air from escaping and cold air from entering. There is a wide selection of door jamb and door sweep weatherstripping available made from silicone, foam, and rubber. Taking it one step further, removing the exterior trim around windows and doors and using an expanding foam will seal up air leaks even better.
Keep Snow Away from the Home's Foundation
Shoveling snow can be back-breaking work. However, it's important to keep snow from building up around a home's foundation. By shoveling around the home, not just the driveway and the sidewalks, melting snow has a better chance of draining away from the home and not entering the basement through cracks in the foundation. It's also important to ensure that snow is shoveled away from exterior furnace vents. Keeping snow two to three feet from these vents and ensuring that there is no ice blockage allows the carbon monoxide to escape and prevents the poisoning of the home's occupants.
Winter home maintenance isn't for the faint of heart but it's essential in order to protect the homeowner and the homeowner's biggest investment. If any of these tasks seem too big to handle, homeowners should consider hiring them out for the safety and security of their home and family.