Weatherstripping and Window Caulking

Winter home maintenance is mostly inspecting air seals on the house and the appliances that provide heat. Without any lengthy introduction lets go ahead and jump right into the first task with weatherstripping and window caulking.

The biggest culprit of energy loss in the winter is air leaks. Keep your home air tight to make sure the heating systems operate efficiently.

Test that all doors and windows close tightly. Put your hand around the seam and feel for drafts. If you feel a draft around a door, check the weatherstripping and replace as needed. Add more weatherstripping if there are any air gaps. Visually inspect the caulking around the windows and replace if it is cracked or there are gaps. Use a putty knife to remove the old caulking.
Damaged caulking on a window

Roof and Gutters

The roof and gutters should have already been cleaned during the fall home maintenance. During the winter it is more of an effort to keep them this way. Any water blocked on the roof or in the gutters during the winter will create an ice dam. Water pooling behind these ice dams can creep under shingles and lead to problems.

How do you prevent ice damming? First, make sure the gutters stay clean. They should have already been cleaned during the fall but it is important to make sure they remain free of debris. Second, make sure your attic is properly insulated. Warm air transferring heat to the roof through the attic can melt snow. If there happens to be a warm day during the winter it might be best to clear the snow from the roof. Not an easy task.

Furnace and Air Filters

The furnace needs to be in good working order for cold months. Once a year clean the blower and lubricate its motor as outlined in the unit's manual. Call a professional if you are unsure.

Air filters help keep the unit clean. This task should be on your monthly home maintenance calendar. Be sure to install the replacements in correctly. The little arrows on the side of the filters indicated the air flow direction. Also, check to see if fiberglass or pleated air filters are recommended. It typically depends on the air capacity of your home's furnace.

Fireplace Cleaning and Inspection

Fireplaces can be a great tool and even help you save money. Before using it go through the following checklist.

Inspect the front and mantle for any smoke marks. This typically indicates poor ventilation. Look inside the chimney for any blockage (e.g. a bird nest). Check the brick and mortar for cracks or damage. Call a professional to help you remedy any of the problems. If the fireplace is wood burning it should be cleaned every year to prevent a chimney fire.

If the guard you use is glass, use vinegar and water to clean smoke stains. This combo is a cheap way to keep the glass looking good.