Ushering in months of snow and ice, winter is a harsh time of the year. Not only must homeowners protect their homes against exterior damage from storms, but they must guard against potentially devastating interior hazards. A recent study by Travelers Insurance found that 1/3 of all home claim payouts made in the winter are fire-related, making fire the most expensive loss during the season. However, fire isn’t the only winter concern – pest control and internal air quality are equally important during the frigid winter months. Here are five crucial home maintenance tasks to be completed in winter.
Update your alarm and alert systems. They won’t prevent a fire, but your alarm system can save lives and minimize damage in the event of one. Ideally, your home should have a smoke alarm outside every bedroom and on every level. Photoelectric alarms are very good at detecting smoldering fires that can fill your home with carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Consider adding smart smoke detectors, which send phone alerts when fire-related hazards are detected.
Change your furnace filters. This isn’t a yearly task, but one that should be done throughout the year. It’s imperative to replace your filters every 30 to 90 days while staying alert for abnormal smells and sounds, inspecting the base pan for blockages, and keeping your outdoor unit free of debris and dirt. Neglecting this simple routine maintenance will cause inefficient heating, high energy bills, and potential health hazards due to indoor air pollution.
Clean your dryer vent. It’s best to clean the dryer’s lint trap after every use, but its outside vent needs a deep cleaning annually. Over time, lint will accumulate and can catch fire. Inspect the vent hose and remove any accumulated lint and debris. Also, make sure the external vent is screened to prevent birds and pests from entering your home through it.
Seal your home’s exterior. In the winter, wildlife looks for a warm, cozy place to take shelter from the frigid temperatures. To ensure they aren’t wintering with your family, seal exterior cracks and holes with caulk, expanding foam, or another suitable filler. Make sure screens are firmly in place over vents and other large openings. Pay particular attention to the chimney, roofline, and areas where pipes enter the house.
Review your insurance policies and coverage. Not all home maintenance chores involve physical labor. The upcoming new year provides an ideal time to review your homeowner’s insurance policy. If you’ve made home improvements in the past year, make sure they’ll be adequately covered. Also, consider shopping around for a better deal if you haven’t compared insurance companies recently.
Tackling these easy tasks before the weather really gets cold will ensure your family spends the winter season enjoying the beautiful scenery and doing fun things, rather than suffering through a preventable problem – or worse, a tragedy. Be safe, everyone!