Your Guide to Winter Home Maintenance

by Lauren Caggiano

Winter-related disasters can quickly turn a good day into a bad one. If you want to avoid costly repairs, don’t put off these winter maintenance tasks. Here’s what you should add to your weekend to-do list:


Check Your gutters and drainage.

Winter in the Midwest comes more precipitation, so you want to be ready. While cleaning out the gutters can be messy and hard work, it can save you money in the long run. That’s because maintenance extends their life and curbs the chances of roof damage. So follow this guide to give them a good cleaning and after check for any other signs of drainage issues.

Check for ice dams.

In sub-zero conditions, ice dams can form at the roof’s edge. Such a phenomenon can prevent melting snow from draining properly. The water can leak into your roof and cause damage inside.

To prevent this potential disaster, keep the entire roof at the same temperature by increasing ventilation, and add insulation. Also, make sure to seal off every possible air leak that might warm the underside of the roof.


Look for moisture.

Again, cold and wet weather can cause issues inside our homes. On that note, (if applicable), check your basement for water damage stains and your attic for mildew. Both problems indicate that your drainage system isn’t up to snuff.

Test your sump pump.

Sump pumps can save your home from condensation buildup, floods, and water from drains. That’s why you want to make sure it works — or else you could end up with a flooded basement and foundation damage. Yikes! Check the exit pipe for any dirt and debris, taking care to remove any clogs. Make sure that the water is being directed well away from your home’s foundation.

Clean dryer vents.

Dyers can be a fire hazard, causing more than 15,000 fires annually, so you don’t want to leave anything to chance. Take care to remove any built-up lint from the dryer. Also, don’t forget about the lint filter, which is found toward the front of the dryer. Slide the filter out and scrape off any matter. You may use a vacuum to extract any lint caught in the lint trap, too. Replace the filter after cleaning it.

Check your electrical system.

Electrical issues can pose a serious threat to your family’s safety. At a minimum, check the main service panel for sparking, and inspect the breaker wires for bad insulation and any discoloration. If something seems amiss, hire a licensed electrician to offer a second opinion. This is something you want to delay or DIY.

Seal leaky doors and windows.

Doors and windows can be significant sources of heat loss. Check your windows and doors by opening and closing them. When you close the lock, do you notice a gap between the seals? If so, it’s time to correct that.  Here’s a tutorial on draft-proofing your windows and doors.

As Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So, make time for these tasks and enjoy peace of mind this winter.





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