Winter might be a few weeks away, but cold temperatures are starting to creep in around the country. It’s the perfect time to start tackling your necessary maintenance and ensure you’re ready for the season. Here are five home features you should check in winter — before the weather outside gets frightful.
1. Clean Your Dryer Vents
We all love the feeling of putting on a warm sweater or curling up under a blanket fresh out of the dryer. This is something you should inspect when the weather gets cold. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, dryers cause upwards of 2,900 fires every year and result in $35 million in property loss. About 34% of these happen because of clogged or dirty dryer vents.
More dryer fires happen in fall and winter months, so now is the time to clean out your vents and remove any lint buildup that could result in a blaze.
2. Get Your Fireplace Inspected
A crackling fire in your fireplace is almost synonymous with winter, but don’t immediately light one once the temperature starts to drop. Schedule a fireplace and chimney inspection and cleaning before it starts to get cold. Dirty or clogged chimneys can create a fire hazard or cause smoke and hazardous fumes to build up in your home.
Modern fireplaces also often have various moving parts — many of which aren’t visible to the naked eye, even on cursory inspection. If one of those fails, the whole system can stop working. Schedule a professional cleaning and examination before you start using your fireplace this winter.
3. Inspect Your Garage Door
Your garage door is often the largest entrance into your home. As such, it can create some of the biggest problems — especially if it gets stuck open or closed, or something fails when you need it the most. Garages are generally not climate-controlled, so these massive doors can bleed heat and drive up your energy costs.
Take a look at your garage door. Run it up and down a few times to see if it moves smoothly. Disengage the opener and ensure you can open and close the door manually. If it’s not working perfectly, you may want to consider repair or replacement before things start to get too cold. You might even want to consider investing in an insulated door to reduce heat loss during the cold winter months.
4. Schedule a Heating System Inspection
The last thing you want when the temperature starts dropping outside is for your home heating system to fail. Furnaces are not used year-round, so it’s important to make sure everything is in good working order. After two or three seasons unused, putting all that strain on your system could cause it to fail. When it’s cold outside, emergency calls will cost you a lot more than scheduling an inspection in the off-season.
The exact details of your inspection will vary depending on the type of heating system — such as gas or electric. However, having a professional give everything a once-over can save you a lot of money and heartache — and potentially frostbite — in the long run.
5. Double-Check Your Pipe Insulation
The only thing worse than dealing with a broken-down heating system in the winter is having a pipe burst. Water expands when it freezes. If that happens in your pipes, they’ll crack and leave you scrambling to shut off the water and clean up the mess before it does too much damage.
Before freezing weather arrives, take the time to double-check your pipe insulation. Ensure everything is covered and there are no weak points that could freeze once the temperature drops below 32 F.
Home Features to Check In Winter
Winter brings many good things with it, from enjoying the great outdoors without drowning yourself in bug spray to it being comfortable enough to enjoy sitting by the fire with a warm drink and a good book.
Now is the time to prepare and ensure that the cold winter months go smoothly. You can then sit back and enjoy your cozy home while the snow drifts down and those chilly winds start to blow.
Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated, a home improvement publisher with advice on gardening, decor and DIY projects.