Every winter, homeowners run the risk of spending hundreds to thousands of dollars on home repairs due to the extreme winter conditions. It’s extremely important to prep your home ahead of time and avoid these dangers. To keep your home safe, warm and in good working order we recommend these quick and easy winter home maintenance projects:
#1 Weather-Strip Your Doors and Windows
Doors and windows are an often-overlooked source of air leakage, but it’s important to weather strip them to keep warm air in and cold air out. Weather stripping presents two options: call a professional to install weatherstripping (see how much it costs to install weather stripping) or do it yourself. If you do it yourself, you can use either caulk or expanding foam. It will cost about $20 to $30 to cover 10 feet.
#2 Upgrade Your Thermostat
If you live in an older home, there’s a good chance you have an outdated thermostat — the kind on which you move a bar between 50 and 90 degrees. These thermostats regulate heat inefficiently compared to programmable thermostats. Recent innovations in the technology allow you to control newer thermostats with your mobile phone and input lower temperatures for certain times of day — saving you money on your utility bill while ensuring a warm house when you walk in the door. Call an electrician to install a programmable thermostat or do it yourself for the cost of the thermostat ($50 – $200), plus a few hours’ time.
#3 Keep Your Pipes Toasty
Burst and frozen pipes are a major driver for winter home repairs — especially in the South, where freezes are unexpected and pipes are ill-prepared. Pipes should be wrapped in heat tape and insulated with fiberglass or foam-rubber to prepare for any kind of freeze. You can purchase these items at a home improvement store for $10 to $20. You can also hire a plumber to do the job for you, especially in hard to reach places like the attic or basement.
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#4 Keep the Fire in its Place
Lighting your fireplace is an alternative to keeping your heater running through the winter. However, if you fail to clean your chimney between winters, there’s a good chance your fire will travel inwards into your home — potentially burning your furniture or flooring. The buildup of a material called creosote — an oil that comes from the coal and wood burned in the fireplace — is highly combustible and flammable. Chimney professionals know how to clean your chimney of creosote and check for signs of leaks and other hazards. You can hire a professional to clean your chimney for about $300. This is an extensive job; inexperienced homeowners are not advised to do it on their own.
#5 Switch Your Ceiling Fan’s Rotation
During the winter, you can use your ceiling fan to keep the cold air out of a room by changing its rotation. Most homeowners don’t consider utilizing the ceiling fan during the winter, but it can cut monthly heating costs by almost 10%. There is a reverse switch above the blades; when activated, the fan’s blades push cold air up into the ceiling and the warm air down into the room. This project saves you money and costs just a few minutes of your time. (Just remember to hit the switch again in spring so the hot air starts going back towards the ceiling.)
#6 Salt and Shovel for Safety
While watching the snow blanket the yard can be peaceful, the walk to the car the next morning can be hazardous. Keep sidewalk salt handy to prevent slips and falls. And keep a shovel in the garage or near the front door to cut a clear path for your family and neighbors. If you’re unable to shovel the walk yourself, you can hire a snow removal service to clear the snow quickly and efficiently.