While we tend to think of fires, hot baths, and the blessed sound of the furnace kicking in on a frigid sub-zero morning when we think of winter comfort, we don’t always remember that there is a lot of behind the scenes action required to make this coziness a reality. Before you get into full hygge mode, here is a winter home maintenance checklist designed to make sure you leave nothing to chance this season. Completing this list will give you some peace of mind so you can sit back and enjoy the magic of the season with your loved ones, feeling confident that you’re prepared for anything the Alberta winter throws at you!
1. Furnace Maintenance
One essential way to get ready for the winter season is making sure your furnace isn’t going to leave you out in the cold in -30 temperatures. Replacing your furnace filter regularly and getting your furnace inspected yearly will keep it running efficiently and help you avoid costly repairs down the road.
2. Safe Fireplaces
If you regularly enjoy curling up on a cold winter’s night by your cozy fireplace, be sure to have your chimney cleaned every year. While use of a chimney sweep log can help reduce creosote buildup, you will still need a professional to verify the stack is clean and clear from any obstructions, and do any serious chimney cleaning required.
3. Keep It Cozy
Some people prefer wearing sweaters to cranking up the heat when winter temperatures hit. Even so, make sure you keep your heat on and running at a consistent and reasonable temperature, somewhere in the neighborhood of 17-22 degrees. This is especially important if you are planning to go away and leave your house unattended for any amount of time. It is tempting to turn your furnace off or to a very low temperature when you are away or when you are sleeping, but this is not advised if you want your heating system to keep up on those bone chilling -40 days. And, maintaining consistent heat will ensure your water pipes don’t freeze and potentially flood your home.
4. Lint Traps and Dryer Vents
Laundry seems like an endlessly daunting task! When you think of the countless loads you do and the number of times you empty that trusty lint trap, do you ever consider what could be hiding in your vent line or deep down below the lint trap? Disconnecting the vent line and clearing it of dust and debris at least once a year is essential to keeping your dryer running efficiently and, more importantly, reduces the risk of a potential fire. This risk can be greater in the winter, as more people turn to the dryer for taking care of wet mittens and other outerwear and clothesline enthusiasts are forced to turn to the dryer in the frigid temperatures.
5. Use Your Ceiling Fans
Did you know ceiling fans are not just for cooling you down on hot summer days? If you run your fans clockwise during the winter months, they will help circulation and push all the warm, toasty air back down to your level. This takes some pressure off your furnace, which will need to cut in less frequently.
6. Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Smoke Alarms
Carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms expire after about 10 years of use; beyond this time period they become less accurate and may start going off when there is no threat, or malfunction when you need them most! Ensure you have at least one functioning detector on each level of your home. This is especially important in the winter, when we spend almost all our time inside with the doors and windows closed and often have fires burning or heaters running. This all increases the need to make sure detectors are working properly.
7. Entryway Readiness
Protecting your home from the elements can be difficult and feel like an endless cycle of vacuuming and mopping! To make it easier, be sure to invest in some good quality doormats that are large enough to catch all of the snow and salt mess. And, purchasing a boot tray like this will give your family (and guests!) a visual cue for where to put their soiled footwear. Boot trays are great because they’ll also hold the muddy, grimy water that melts off your boots and shoes, along with any sand and gravel.
8. Hot Water Tank Maintenance
Did you know flushing your hot water tank regularly will remove sediment sitting at the bottom, and keep the parts inside from corroding? Not only does this add to the life of your tank but it keeps it running more efficiently and consistently. Do this before winter, the season of hot baths and the need for all things heated in general!
Keep all that precious heat right where you want it this winter by weatherproofing your doors and windows. Check for gaps, use weather stripping to fix them, and if you have significant drafts coming through your windows cover them with plastic to keep warm air from escaping. All this will keep your furnace from working overtime trying to keep up with the heat loss. This saves you money by reducing maintenance and repair costs, and also lowers your heating bills!
10. Deep Clean your Carpets
Some might agree with Erma Bombeck, who said that “cleaning the house while the children are home is like shoveling while it’s still snowing.” When it comes to winter mud and slush, it would be easy to think the same principle is true for your carpets, and avoid deep cleaning at all until winter is all over with. However, just like cleaning the house with children around, cleaning your carpets in the dirtiest season of the year is actually very important, because just imagine how bad things would get if you did nothing at all! Doing a mid-winter clean will ensure that you keep dirt and grime and salt residue to a manageable level, and you won’t be left with an absolute disaster when spring rolls around with its own mess to think about! We also know a clean house is good for our mental health, and during the dark winter months it is comforting to feel like your house is clean and cozy and under your control.
Home maintenance does seem overwhelming at times. Spending a morning or two on this list will make you feel confident in your home’s ability to protect you from the cold of an Alberta winter, and proper prevention of a heating or fire emergency will always save you time and money and more serious stress in the long run. Contact AmSteam to book your winter cleaning appointment today!