Mistakes Homeowners Make Before Every Winter
Winter is coming, and while you may be tempted to hibernate under a cozy blanket until spring arrives, don’t make the mistake of neglecting your home during this season. Failing to prepare your home for the cold weather can lead to costly repairs and potential hazards. So, grab a cup of hot cocoa and let’s dive into the top mistakes homeowners make every winter and how to avoid them.
1. Neglecting Furnace Maintenance
One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make before winter is neglecting furnace maintenance. Your furnace is the unsung hero of winter, keeping you warm and cozy. To ensure it functions optimally throughout the season, make sure to change the furnace filter regularly. The filter helps prevent dust, dirt, and allergens from accumulating and reducing the lifespan of your heating system. While the recommended frequency is every 1-3 months, it’s essential to assess your household needs and adjust accordingly. Plan to replace the filter in late fall as part of your winter maintenance routine.
2. Ignoring the Air Conditioner
Your air conditioner deserves some TLC after working hard all summer. Before the snow arrives, give it a thorough cleaning. Wipe down the unit to remove any debris and dirt. If your system has a water shutoff valve, turn it off. For window units, remove and store them indoors. To protect your air conditioner from the elements, cover it once it’s completely dry. Remember, a well-maintained air conditioner will serve you better when summer rolls around again.
3. Overlooking Sprinkler and Outdoor Water Supply
As winter approaches, it’s crucial to drain your sprinkler system and outdoor water supply to prevent damage from freezing temperatures. Remove any excess water by draining the valves or hiring a professional to blow out your sprinkler system. Store outdoor hoses and devices in a safe place. Don’t forget to turn off outdoor water spigots and ensure everything is drained completely. This simple step will save you from dealing with burst pipes and costly repairs come spring.
4. Neglecting Roof, Gutters, and Vents
Your roof, gutters, and vents play a vital role in protecting your home from the harsh winter elements. Take a moment to inspect your gutters and remove any debris, allowing melted snow to flow freely. Check for any exposed plywood where shingles may have blown off during summer storms. Additionally, ensure your roof is properly vented to prevent condensation build-up in your attic, which can cause structural damage and mould growth. Remember, a little maintenance now can save you from major headaches later.
5. Forgetting Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Winter comes with cozy evenings by the fireplace and holiday decorations, but it also poses potential risks. Make sure your home is equipped with functioning smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Check and replace the batteries if needed. If you don’t have these alarms installed yet, it’s essential to comply with the updated regulations. The Government of Saskatchewan now requires all residential buildings to have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms.
Safety first! Protect your home and loved ones by ensuring your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order.
6. Underestimating the Dangers of Holiday Decorations
The holiday season brings joy and festivity, but it also comes with potential hazards. When decorating your home, it’s important to prioritize safety. Replace any burnt-out bulbs to prevent electrical issues. Remember to use a sturdy ladder while stringing up lights, and avoid using a metal ladder to avoid electrical shocks. For outdoor decorations, opt for weatherproof and waterproof lights. Keep extension cords away from wet areas to prevent accidents.
7. Not Reviewing Homeowner Insurance Policy
Winter is a time when home insurance becomes even more crucial. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting your homeowner insurance policy. Take the time to review your policy regularly to understand your coverage, limitations, and conditions. Consider speaking with your insurance broker about additional coverage options like Home Systems Protection. This coverage can provide added security for your main appliances, such as the furnace and air conditioner. Stay informed and ensure your home is adequately protected.
8. Failing to Winterize Windows and Doors
Properly winterizing your windows and doors can significantly improve energy efficiency and keep the cold air out. Check for any drafts and seal them with weatherstripping or caulk. Consider adding insulation film to your windows for extra insulation. Don’t forget to install door sweeps to prevent cold air from sneaking in under the doors.
9. Not Stocking Up on Winter Essentials
Preparing for winter goes beyond home maintenance. It’s essential to stock up on winter essentials to ensure your safety and comfort. Create an emergency kit that includes blankets, flashlights, batteries, non-perishable food, and water. Keep a shovel and ice melt on hand to clear walkways and prevent slips. Don’t forget to check your snowblower or shovel to ensure they are in working order.
Winterizing your home is like wrapping it in a warm blanket – it keeps you cozy and protected from the cold.
10. Skipping Professional HVAC Inspection
While there are many tasks you can tackle yourself, don’t skip out on a professional HVAC inspection. Hiring a qualified technician to inspect and tune up your heating system can identify potential issues and ensure it’s running efficiently. A well-maintained HVAC system will not only keep you warm but also save you money on energy bills. Schedule an annual inspection before the winter chill sets in to avoid unexpected breakdowns and costly repairs.
11. Neglecting Outdoor Maintenance
Winter doesn’t mean you can completely neglect your outdoor maintenance. Clear any fallen leaves, branches, and debris from your yard. Trim any overhanging tree branches that could potentially cause damage during winter storms. Additionally, protect your outdoor furniture by storing it indoors or using weatherproof covers. By taking care of your outdoor space, you’ll have a more pleasant environment to enjoy when spring arrives.
12. Forgetting to Winterize Vacant Homes
If you have a vacation home or a property that will be vacant during the winter, don’t forget to winterize it. Shut off the water supply and drain all pipes to prevent freezing and burst pipes. Set your thermostat to a low but safe temperature to prevent extreme cold from damaging the interior. Consider having a trusted neighbour or property management company periodically check the property to ensure everything is in order. Winterizing your vacant home will protect your investment and prevent costly repairs.
13. Away from Your Home During Winter/Spring
Do you intend to be absent from your residence during the winter or spring? If so, your insurance provider may have specific guidelines that you must adhere to in order to maintain your coverage while you’re away. These guidelines can vary between insurers, so it’s important to consult with your advisor to ensure that you are aware of any requirements in order to maintain your coverage during the heating and melting season.
You can enjoy a cozy and worry-free winter by avoiding these common mistakes. Remember to prioritize furnace maintenance, check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and review your homeowner insurance policy. Take the necessary steps to protect your home, and don’t forget to stock up on winter essentials. With a little planning and preparation, you can make the most of the winter season while keeping your home in top shape. Stay warm and stay safe!
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