Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

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While famed groundhog Punxsutawney Phil has declared an early Spring this year, several weeks of Winter 2011 – one of the harshest is recent memory – remain in the forecast. Even in the Southern states, Winter can be particularly tough on a home. Cooler temperatures, high winds and damp air all combine to wreak havoc on both the exterior and interior of your home. Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is particularly true when it comes to your home’s maintenance and upkeep. By taking a handful of simple steps toward safeguarding your home against the harmful effects of Winter, you could be saving yourself from expensive repairs down the road.  Wouldn’t you rather spend that money on exciting, elective home renovations during the first few weeks of Spring rather than costly, necessary home repairs? To help you avoid the latter, Highlight Homes has compiled the following Winter Home Maintenance Checklist:

  1. Walk around the exterior of your home to check your roof for missing shingles or obvious damage, then head up to the attic to check from the interior.  Do you see discoloration, holes, or noticeable water damage?  If so, it’s time to call in a professional! This step is usually most helpful during or immediately following a rain storm. Pay close attention to your gutters at this time, as well.  If the water is not flowing freely through your gutters, then there could be a blockage which may lead to expensive water damage over time. While you’re up in the attic, check the vents and insulation for signs of critters and make sure that no insulation that has fallen over into the eaves where it might restrict the air flow.
  2. Check your basement for leaks during or immediately after a rainstorm. If your basement is finished, a leak may not be as easy to see – so check for moist carpeting around the baseboards indicating seepage. Even if you find no evidence of a leak, if you notice a musty smell – it may be time to invest in a good dehumidifier to remove the moisture from the air. If your home features crawl spaces, be sure to check those as well for moisture and water damage. Take a peek at the HVAC ducts to make sure they have not separated, the insulation is in good shape, and no critters have made a home there for the winter. Check the insulation around the water pipes to make sure there are no gaps that can lead to frozen pipes.
  3. Check around door and window frames for possible water damage.  If you see an indication of wood rot, you’ll want to get that taken care of ASAP.  Wood rot can actually be an indication of living mold spores or the dreaded termite infestation – both of which will continue to multiply and spread.  A professional can quickly determine the cause of the wood rot – be it water damage, termites or otherwise – and come up with the best solution BEFORE it gets any further out of hand. While you’re there, be sure to take a close look at your weather stripping for holes and gaps – may be time to replace it.
  4. Test all of your outlets – particularly those with ground-fault circuit interrupters – this is best done following an electrical storm. If you believe you may have an issue – your cords become overheated or you notice a discoloration around the outlets – it’s time to call in a professional.  Older homes are at a much greater risk – so if your home is more than a decade old, you may want to invest in a voltage tester from your local home supply store. According to the US Fire Administration, electrical problems in the home cause 485 deaths and $868 million in property losses annually – and are more common during the Winter months.
  5. If you haven’t already done so for the year, check all of your smoke alarms and replace batteries if necessary. Do you own a fire extinguisher?  Do you know where it is?  After locating it, check the meter near the handle to make sure the pressure is still good. If not, it’s time to invest in a new one. Talk to your family about what to do in the event of a fire, and even run practice drills – in the hopes that you will never have to use them.
  6. Remove hair and debris from all sinks, tubs and shower drains. Pour baking soda or another safe drain cleaner down the drain, if needed and flush with cool water to make sure your pipes are running smoothly.
  7. If you hear reports of sub-freezing temperatures, set your faucets to drip to encourage flow and DIScourage frozen pipes.  If you are planning to head out of town and fear the temperatures may head south while you are away, open the doors to the cabinets under your sinks so the heat can circulate around the pipes.  You may turn the heat down, but don’t shut it completely off.
  8. Check your refrigerator and/or whole home water filtration systems – may be time to install a new filter!
  9. Keep tabs on you HVAC filters & overflow pans. If the filter appears to be full, replace it, and make sure your over flow pans are clear of insulation & debris so that they function properly.

If you find yourself in need of a home repair – whether it be roof replacement, basement waterproofing, water damage repair, pipe replacement, electrical wiring repair or general home maintenance – Highlight Homes can help. As custom home builders and skilled remodelers, we offer a wealth of knowledge and experience in all areas of your home. Simply give us a call at 678.873.9234, e-mail us at, or fill out our online contact form TODAY! While we’re in your home, we can also discuss your wish list of possible remodeling changes you’d like to make in the near future.

Hang in there!  Winter’s almost at an end and Spring is just around the corner!!!

Winter Home Maintenance Checklist