Is your home prepared to withstand the ice and snow of another long winter? Winter weather can take a heavy toll on our homes. That’s why performing home maintenance is one of the most vital —but also more expensive and laborious—aspects to owning a home.
Here at Beacon Hill, we recognize these tasks can become even more difficult as we age. That’s why we provide all of the home winter weather maintenance that our residents require.
However, if you still own a residential home, here are some essential winter maintenance tips that you can undertake now to get ahead of the weather.
Clean and Inspect Your HVAC System
Older adults are especially vulnerable to colder temperatures. During the winter months, your HVAC system is key to maintaining your safety and comfort. This should be the first system you check each season. If you have a propane or oil furnace, you should complete the tasks below and also ensure your fuel supply is topped up.
Here are suggestions on how to inspect and prepare your HVAC system for the winter ahead.
- Change your HVAC filters. Write down the date you changed your filter, either on the side of the filter or on a note hung near the system. A clean filter makes your system more efficient.
- Check carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide deaths increase during the winter. Ensure that your carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order and avoid the use of unvented gas-burning appliances indoors. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, check that the chimney is in good condition and venting properly.
- Inspect and protect your outside central air unit. Look in and around your central air unit for any debris such as twigs, weeds or other detritus that may have built up and remove it. Also consider covering your exterior central air unit with a weatherproof cover or tarp to shield it from ice and snow.
- Clean and clear interior air ducts. Remove and clean interior air duct grills and wipe around the edges of the ducts. Every five to ten years, you may also want to invest in a deep cleaning of your ducts by having the vents blown out. This not only helps improve the air quality of your home, but can also make your system more efficient.
Inspect and Seal Windows and Doors
Most heating and cooling in a home is lost through the edges of windows and doors, especially at the junction of hinged windows or where one pane meets another. Even if you checked the window and door seals in the recent past, the normal wear and tear of time and use could have affected the integrity of these seals.
To ensure your home maintains optimal temperature with minimal energy loss, perform these steps.
- Install storm windows and doors. You can install storm windows and doors at any time, but most homeowners wait until the onset of chilly weather. A storm door will let in plenty of light while forming an additional barrier to protect the interior of your home from the elements. After installing storm windows, you may also consider putting up thermal curtains to further insulate your home.
- Check for drafts. Inspect the area around your windows and doors for damage to the seals and re-caulk them or install weatherstripping to block drafts. If you have previously installed weatherstripping, make sure it’s in good shape. Also check that the locks on your windows and doors are working correctly. Examine and repair any existing weatherstripping.
- Clean window tracks. Window tracks can accumulate debris that may obstruct seals. Vacuum out loose debris and then scrub out any remaining dirt with baking soda and vinegar.
Protect Indoor Pipes and Drain Outdoor Irrigation Systems
Below-freezing temperatures can cause water pipes to burst. For many homeowners, this can be a serious and expensive problem to solve, especially during inclement weather.
To help reduce the risk of this type of damage, take these essential steps as part of your home winterization process.
- Insulate any exposed piping. Key areas to inspect are those in your attic and any exterior walls, crawlspaces, or in your garage. If insulation is lacking or damaged in these areas, have it installed or replaced.
- Drain exterior faucets. Exterior faucets are often overlooked when winterizing a home. Ahead of below-freezing temperatures, drain your exterior faucets and disconnect and drain any hoses. Install an insulated cover over faucets for added protection.
- Winterize sprinkler systems and pools. Sprinkler systems should be shut off and drained according to instructions for your unique system. Additionally, if you have an outdoor pool, ensure that you have winterized it per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Safeguard Garden Beds, Paths, Driveways, and Outdoor Features
Don’t forget to attend to winter maintenance tasks outside and around your home, as well. In many instances, your exterior hardscaping and outdoor entertaining equipment can be severely damaged by the weather. Cover outdoor furniture, fireplaces and grills with protective covers.
Depending on the amount of snowfall in your area, you may also want to mark garden beds, paths, driveways and other features to prevent damage to them while clearing away snow.
Live Comfortably Year Round at Beacon Hill
At Beacon Hill, we make it easier for older adults to live safely during the winter months. All home and grounds maintenance is included for residents. All residents have access to a suite of amenities and services within close proximity to both Chicago and Naperville. Come and see for yourself how our residents enjoy all of the benefits of a worry-free retirement at Beacon Hill.
Contact us to learn more or schedule a tour.