Winter Maintenance Tips

The long-term health of a home depends on you, the homeowner. One of the most important steps you can take to preserve the life of your property is to perform routine maintenance when seasons shift throughout the year.

Fall is a critical time to check in on a few things to make sure your home is ready for colder temperatures—and safe for the winter season. Here are some reminders about upkeep on your home:

Shut down your sprinkler system.

Make sure your system is turned off at the main stop and waste valve, which is typically located near the street. Also, ensure your timer is turned off so the valves do oscillate all winter long.

If your system was installed correctly, the water lines will be below the frost line. However if you have an older system (or one that was not installed low enough in the ground), you will want to have a professional blow out all excess water with compressed air. Professionals will charge $60 to $100 for this service.

Drain your water line.

If you have a swamp cooler, be sure to drain the water line and cover the unit while it’s dormant. It’s also a good idea to put a cover on the inside of the swamp cooler or stuff insulation in the register to limit drafts. You can pay a pro to perform this service for about $80 to $120.

Clear the gutters.

If your home has gutters they should be cleaned in the fall after all leaves are off the trees. Also, start watching for ice dams, as they can ruin gutters and cause annoying leaks and dangerous ice patches. If you see an area where ice is collecting, try using salt to melt it.

Plan for snow removal.

Depending on the size and steepness of your driveway, you can line up a regular plow contractor, use a snow blower or get some exercise by shoveling. Whatever your decision, have a plan before the first snowfall. Also, make sure you follow your municipality’s laws for snow removal on sidewalks and driveways—fines can be hefty.

Pick your ice melt.

Ice melt is more expensive than rock salt, but it’s typically worth the investment because cheap salt eats away at concrete surfaces, causing an additional problem for your home. Whatever you chose, make sure you stay on top of clearing ice so you don’t get slapped with a lawsuit if someone falls.

Service your heaters.

Make sure you change filters and that your furnace is working well prior to the first cold day. It’s a good idea to have it serviced and cleaned by a professional HVAC company every year. Be aware: Older water heaters tend to fail in the fall or spring, when abrupt changes in water temperatures can often trigger the death of a dated water heater.

Prepare the pipes.

If any areas of your property are prone to pipe freezing, it’s wise to look into additional insulation. Or, on really cold days, just leave the applicable faucet on a slow drip to avoid freezing—and breaking.

As the seasons change, stay ahead of these common property issues and you’ll be on your way to becoming a happier, healthier long-term homeowner.