ALL ABOUT HOUSES BY ANDY CONSOLI
A LITTLE PRE-WINTER MAINTENANCE PAYS OFF
Originally published in Haverhill Life, December 2018
With the winter weather approaching, it is a good time to walk around your house and property to make sure everything is ready for the season. A little preventative maintenance and observation can go a long way toward preventing serious damage and help prolong the life of your home and equipment.
Clear leaves and branches from the lawn and shrubs to prevent damage to grass and plants during the winter. Disconnect garden hoses from outside spigots. Leaving hoses attached and under pressure can cause broken pipes inside your house.
Trim tree branches that have grown close to the house or overhang the roof to avoid damage to the roof and siding. Falling branches can break siding or windows, or even penetrate the roof. Use binoculars to check your roof for missing or damaged shingles. You would be surprised at how many roofs have damage that could be discovered if the owner just looked up once in a while. Check the attic for any roof leaks and water stains. It’s a good idea to check during a hard rainfall, when you’ll be more likely to spot problem.
Have your home-heating system serviced regularly for optimum performance. You may want to consider a having a heating unit service contract warranty program in place before the winter set in. Finding a heating technician who will quickly respond to your “no heat” call could be more difficult without a service program in place.
Check your doors and windows to be sure the door seals and gaskets are in good condition, and place storm windows in the closed position before the weather turns very cold. Make sure all cellar or basement windows are closed. Frozen pipes are often caused by the cold outside air entering through a slight opening in a cellar or basement window. Pipes located near the coldest areas are typically the first to freeze.
Have sand and driveway salt ready to go. Some salt products can deteriorate concrete walkways and masonry stairs so I use sand.
Winterize lawnmowers and other yard equipment by using gas and stabilizer. Pour some into the fuel tank and run the machine for five minutes to allow the stabilizer to thoroughly travel through the carburetor and gas lines. This will keep the gas from going bad, and it will prevent gunk buildup. Make sure you have a full can of gas for your snow blower, and check the oil level and tire pressure.
If you are installing Christmas lights outside the house, be sure to plug them into a working GFCI outlet. GFCI outlets help prevent electric shock and they are required for the exterior of the house. Test the GFCI outlet by pushing the test button on the outlet. If the outlet pops on test and resets, then it is operational. These outlets should be tested monthly.
Check in next issues for more tips on how to care for your house. But for now, one last thing: Pick out some nice warm sweaters and get ready to buckle down for the winter.