BPG’s Ultimate Winter Maintenance Checklist

stone house with snow all over the roof

Winter is coming.

Not prepared for cold weather? No worries. Here is BPG’s Ultimate Winter Maintenance Checklist for your home so you can prepare it for the cold winter months.

 

Seal Your Windows

Drafty windows can prevent your home from staying warm during winter. Instead of wasting energy and your hard-earned money, seal those air leaks with these simple tips:

  • Venture around your home and check the windows for drafts. An easy way to do this is to hold up a lighter to the window and see if the flame moves.
  • Check the window caulking on the inside and outside.
  • To remove old caulking, use caulking softener and let it sit for two hours. After it’s had a chance to soak, use a putty knife to remove the old caulking.
  • Lastly, apply the new caulking into the window seam and smooth it out. Let it dry for 12-15 hours.

 

Clean Your Gutters

Clogged gutters can cause rotting and discoloration, ice-damming, flooding, and more. By cleaning your gutters at least twice a year, that can all be prevented. Here are some quick tips for cleaning your gutters:

  • While standing on a sturdy ladder, use a scoop to remove all the leaves and debris from your gutters.
  • Place them in a bucket and use a garden hose to move the remaining debris toward the drain outlet.
  • If your pipes are clogged, you may need a plumber’s auger (snake) to unclog them. Double-check your pipes for holes and cracks to make sure they don’t have any leaks.

Pro tip: The iRobot Looj is a safe and simple solution for cleaning gutters. It reduces your time on the ladder and removes debris, making your job that much easier.

 

Protect Your Pipes

Water expands when it freezes, causing a lot of pressure on your pipes. Protecting your pipes from freezing weather can prevent flooding, structural damage, and mold. Follow these tips to protect your pipes:

  • Adding insulation to your attic, basement, and crawl spaces will keep the temperature warmer.
  • Sealing cracks or holes that are near your pipes will prevent cold air from freezing them.
  • Heating tape prevents your pipes from freezing but can be dangerous if you don’t follow the proper safety procedures. A good alternative is foam or rubber pipe insulation. With the look of a pool noodle, these foam covers slip right over your pipes, blanketing them in cold weather.
  • Draining water from outdoor hoses and sprinklers will help prevent them from freezing.

 

Maintain Your Heating System

Maintaining your heating system prolongs its lifespan and makes it run more efficiently. Here are two quick steps to make sure it’s running smoothly:

  • Set your thermostat to your desired temperature (should be at least 10 degrees above room temperature) and wait for it to turn on.
  • After 15 minutes, take a standard thermometer and place it on your thermostat to check if the temperatures are the same. If the temperatures are different, you may need to replace your thermostat.

Once you test your heating system, the next step is to maintain it with these three simple steps:

  • Make sure your windows are sealed and don’t have any air leaks (refer to our Seal Your Windows section above).
  • Check your heating system’s filters – they may need to be cleaned or replaced. If they’re dirty or clogged, they could prevent airflow.
  • Turn your furnace off completely so you can clean the fan blades.

Consider calling a licensed professional to inspect your heating system if you’re unable to perform these steps.

 

Clean Your Fireplace

Having a clean fireplace is important for reducing the risk of a house fire. House fires can start when creosote, a highly flammable substance, builds up after burning wood. Here are three steps for cleaning your fireplace:

  • First, take off the andirons and grate. Use a nylon brush to scrub them outside, then rinse and dry them off.
  • Next, use a shovel to remove piles of debris from your fireplace and put them in the trash.
  • Lastly, use a nylon brush to scrub the walls in your fireplace. (You can use a shop vac to remove the leftover dust.)

How to deep-clean your fireplace

Note: You should have your fireplace inspected and cleaned at least once a year. Don’t want to do it yourself? Contact a professional to perform a thorough inspection and cleaning.

 

Inspect Your Roof

Check your roof for damaged, loose, or missing shingles. If your roof has any openings or you notice large amounts of moss and lichen, get it inspected and repaired immediately by a roofing professional.

Note: if your roof has pebbles, don’t sweep them off. They’re there to protect the asphalt from getting damaged by sunlight.

Contact your local BPG Inspector to make sure your home is prepared for winter.