You may be in the holiday spirit but with the snow comes a need to perform some home maintenance and inspection. This can be of particular importance if this is your first winter in your new home. When the snow flies, it’s a good time to understand how well your roof is insulated to keep the heat in and your energy bill low.
Take note of how fast the snow is melting from your roof. If it’s melting much faster than the snow on the ground is melting, you have a heat loss problem. Also, take note about how evenly it is melting off the roof. If one section of the house is melting faster than others, your insulation isn’t evenly distributed. Another indication of roof heat loss is the rapid formation of icicles at the roofline without a thaw.
Other Winter Maintenance Chores
Here are a few other common winter chores that need attention:
- Most people know that it’s wise to shovel snow from walkways to make them safe to walk on. However, many also salt their walkways. Go easy on the salt because it does damage to the paws of pets.
- When inspecting your roof for snowmelt, also look for ice damns at the eave level. If snow damns aren’t broken up, they can cause melting water to back up on your roof to find weak spots that will leak into the house.
- If it can be done safely, consider shoveling or sweeping snow off shallow angled roofs. Not just your home but also carports, sheds, and other outbuildings.
- If you treasure your landscaping, shake tree branches and shrubbery to prevent snow from breaking branches.
- Temporarily blocking north facing crawl space vents is a good practice for keeping water pipes from freezing during cold snaps.
Tips for Less Insulated Houses and Heating Systems
Older homes that haven’t been updated tend to have much less insulation than modern homes. These have a higher risk of water pipes freezing when the heat is turned off or turned down low – like when your home is unoccupied while you are at work. Keep in mind that most water pipes are under the house where it is colder than inside the rooms. As a general rule, you need to keep the inside of your home at least 55 degrees to assure that outside pipes don’t freeze. An alternative is to keep all faucets at a slow drip during times the heat is turned off.
This should have already been done but if you have oil heat, you can save maintenance costs by doing some of the work yourself. Turn the main power to the system off before opening the blower cover to clean the fan blades. If it’s easily accessible, you can also oil the motor by filling oil cups or using a grease gun to grease fittings. Check your owner’s manual to learn the recommended maintenance.
If you have forced-air ducts, you want to periodically check the ductwork for leaks. This is your opportunity to use duct tape for its original intention – sealing leaky heating ducts. Also, make it a routine to regularly dust or vacuum the grills of your forced-air grilles. Every couple of years you should also have your ductwork professionally cleaned.
Home Emergency Kit
Winter is also a good time to evaluate your home emergency supplies. Winter storms can knock out your electricity, cable television, and leave you stuck at home for days. Common supplies to have on hand include:
- A battery powered radio.
- Several warm blankets.
- A first aid kit.
- 10 or more gallons of drinkable water.
- A 3 to 4 day food supply.
- Tools to shutoff water and gas lines.
- Candles, matches, and flashlights with spare batteries.If you live in an area with extreme cold, you need to have a backup source of heat. This is commonly a wood stove with an adequate supply of dry wood or a generator to power a portable heater.
By being prepared, not even a fierce winter storm will prevent you from enjoying the holidays.
Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 30 years and writing about real estate investing for seven years. He also draws upon 25 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, a few short miles from a national forest in the Olympic Mountains with the Pacific Ocean a couple of miles in the opposite direction.