The last chunk of the year is in full swing. As we get our homes ready for cooler temperatures and the holidays, it’s also time for important seasonal maintenance. Make sure you’re preserving your home’s cold weather systems by avoiding the following four bad home maintenance habits.
Habits inside the home
Bad habit #1: Forgetting your furnace humidifier
Furnace maintenance is at the top of many homeowners’ maintenance lists, but the furnace humidifier is often overlooked. Cleaning this small, but important part of your home’s HVAC system can help prevent the following symptoms:
- Dry skin
- Wood warping around your home
In as little as half an hour once a year, maintaining this component can keep your household comfy indoors all winter long.
Bad habit #2: Skipping a chimney and gas fireplace inspection
Fireplaces and chimneys join the interior and exterior of your home, and they are an icon of the winter and holiday season. For those of us lucky enough to have one, relying on the safety of a gas fireplace that hasn’t been used in months comes with risk; having your chimney and fireplace professionally inspected is your best bet.
When your fireplace is out of use for the spring and summer, some of the following issues may arise:
- Chimney odor, caused by an open chimney damper, allowing humidity to enter the flue and get trapped
- Soot and creosote buildup, caused by a need for chimney sweeping to minimize risk of chimney fire
- Bugs in your chimney (like stinkbugs, beetles, and ants) due to a loose, damaged, or absent chimney cap
- Bugs in your chimney caused by cracks in your fireplace or the chimney itself
By addressing any concerns and clearing any doubt, you can give yourself an added blanket of comfort before roasting any chestnuts or cozying up with your favorite book.
Pro Tip: Check your household’s fire safety equipment, emergency exit bag, and fireproof valuables storage once a month, so everyone is prepared to act in case of emergency.
Habits outside the home
Bad habit #3: Leaving above-ground parts of your sprinkler system uncovered
Now that most of our lawn care is done for the year, it’s time to make sure our sprinkler systems are ready for winter. Once you’ve finished winterizing the system, make sure no parts of your sprinkler plumbing are left exposed.
Use the following materials to adequately shield your sprinkler valves, exterior pipes, and main shut-off valves against the incoming cold:
- Sprinkler valves: Insulated bag covers or thick plastic bags and foam insulation tape
- Exterior pipes: Insulation wrap or cut pool noodles (depending on local temperatures)
- Main shut-off valves: Valve box lids or valve box covers
Bad habit #4: Not cleaning your downspouts when you clean your gutters
Cleaning the gutters may not be your favorite maintenance task, but taking time to thoroughly clean the downspouts while you’re out there can help you preserve your gutters, saving yourself hundreds to thousands in would-be blockages and damages, like clogs, sagging gutters, or roof leaks.
If your downspout is clogged, you can remove it in one of the following ways:
- Small clog: Lightly tap on the sides of the downspout to shake it loose
- Medium clog: Nudge out debris with a gloved hand and/or a garden trowel
- Big clog: Safely climb your ladder and, with someone stabilizing the ladder’s base, raise your garden hose to the top of the downspout and spray down your downspout on a stronger setting
Combined with a gentle garden hose flush of the gutter and downspouts afterward, your gutter system should be all set for the falling leaves and precipitation ahead.