Here are 10 home maintenance tips we recommend as we go into the winter season, where preparing for rain and cold weather is paramount. Our work is limited to the San Francisco Bay Area so you’ll notice we don’t include snow plowing the driveway in our list. Clearly, if you are in a very cold climate, there may be some additional items you should be thinking about, but the list here should be included on a home maintenance list anywhere.
1. Check Your Sump Pump
For those of you with a sump pump, the time to find out it doesn’t work is NOT in the middle of a rain storm. It takes only a couple minutes to confirm it is functioning properly, which includes cleaning around the pump, checking the power source, and pouring water in the pump until it turns on. More details here.
2. Inspect Your Dryer Vent
Does your dryer seem to take a lot longer than it used to to dry your clothes? It may be because the vent is clogged with lint. Clogged dryer vents can hinder the performance of your dryer and can also be quite dangerous if the problem gets severe. Regular cleaning is critical to keeping your appliance running smoothly (and for a long time) as well as keeping you safe. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to clean your dryer vent.
3. Replace the Heating Filter
Similar to the dryer vent, heat filters need to be changed regularly. If you have a forced-air heater, dust is blown around and filtered out by your heating system and once the filter gets clogged, the system has to work harder–and less-efficiently–to do the job. As one of the highest utility expenses, you really want your heating system to be working as smoothly as possible. Going into the heating season is a great time to do this quick task. Here’s a great guide on how to do it. Sometimes the filter is hard to find so you may need to call a professional to help do this service. Once you are clear on how to do it, however, it’s really easy to do it yourself. Oh, and buy more than one filter–it’s a lot easier to do if you have an extra filter on hand!
4. Service Your Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning System
It’s always good to call a professional for a system inspection on occasion. They can identify easy fixes that, if unchecked, could grow into big, expensive problems later.
5. Check Your Fire Extinguisher
OK, the hint here is you should have a fire extinguisher in the first place. They’re a great first line of defense if anything happens. Then, take a second to check to see if it is working condition once in a while. I’ll let you decide whether you want to teach your kids how to use it! Here are some guidelines on what to look for in your inspection.
6. Review Your Emergency Evacuation Plan
OK, this isn’t really a home maintenance item but it is an important “household” item, so I’ve included it. And another hint – if you don’t have an evacuation plan, make one! Then, review it with your family periodically. Don’t take anything for granted. Here’s a great resource.
7. Test Your Smoke Detectors
Here’s another critical safety item that is the bane of our existence. It feels like smoke detectors just go off in the middle of the night or when we are on vacation. Is that the only time the batteries die? Well, there is a reason they are required by code–they save lives. And they can’t save your life if they don’t work. So, test them regularly. We only do these tips twice a year and recommend you go ahead and change the batteries twice a year. Heck, it might even help you avoid the dreaded 2am alarm! More info here.
8. Clean Range Hood Filter
OK, I’ll admit, this is one of my least favorite ones. And is one reason to invest in a high-quality range hood where you can put the filters straight into the dishwasher. Go ahead and put it on your wish list for that kitchen remodel. I probably don’t need to tell you that all the grease and smoke from your cooking gets caught in the range filter and, like other appliances, the more clogged it gets, the harder the motor has to work and the more stress it puts on the hood. Here are some good steps to follow when cleaning it.
9. Clean Bathroom Exhaust Fan
Another piece of equipment that often gets neglected and whose performance can really be hindered by poor maintenance. The fan will stay quieter the cleaner it is, too. Here is a good guideline to follow–and just cleaning the cover regularly is easy and will help a ton.
10. Clean Gutters and Downspouts
Last, but not least, we have to have a dose of Bob Vila in anything home related. Late fall/early winter is definitely the season to clear out your gutters and this is something you don’t want to avoid. It will just get worse and can lead to significant damage to your home. Especially in our new world of atmospheric rivers, you want your gutter system to be able to quickly get all that water off your roof and away from your house. Here’s what Bob says are the steps to take.
That’s it! Hopefully, you can do many of these home maintenance items–and two gold stars for anyone who does them all. Not the most exciting chores, but they will keep you safe, keep your utility bills low, and keep your home healthy. And some of them just get grosser the longer you wait!
Check out our summer tips!