USAA Tips: 5 home maintenance tips for winter

Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Angela Caban

With sparkling ice and fluffy snow adding to the holiday excitement, let's not forget the falling tree branches, drafts, ice dams, and HVAC issues that could cause serious headaches to homeowners. To avoid wasting your holiday season in repairing home disasters, why not take a preventative approach and conduct your winter home maintenance?

This will not only help you prevent catastrophes like frozen pipes or any other winter-related woes, you’ll also be able to inspect your property for potential problems and fix them right away so you can enjoy the winter season.

Do Not Ignore The Plumbing

When the temperature drops to zero or lower, it can be extremely damaging to the plumbing system of your home. Prepare the pipes before the weather becomes below freezing. If you’re planning to spend your winter vacations away from home, you should take extra precautionary measures before leaving.

In addition to shutting off the water valves, check for water leaks so you can get the issue fixed immediately. If you’re uncertain how to do it, make sure to contact a professional to perform a thorough inspection of the state of your pipes.

Keep Your Heating Systems In Check

The last thing you want is your heating system to fall apart during winter. You can avoid this issue by having a thorough inspection of your HVAC system. Having a maintenance check will identify potential problems and also prolong the life of your HVAC system.

When winter strikes:

  • Get the fuel tanks filled and keep a constant check on the levels throughout the season.

  • Maintain your heating no lower than 55° to keep the water piping inside the walls safe. Also, keep the doors of unoccupied rooms open so the heating remains even throughout the house.

Reverse Ceiling Fans

The smartest tip I learned from my parents growing up was switching the ceiling fan setting to reverse in the winter. In other words, if your fan has the reverse switch (usually a small black button found at the base of the fan) switching this will run the fan’s blades in a clockwise direction after you turn on the heat. Energy Star mentions that you should reverse the motor and operate the ceiling fan at low speed in the clockwise direction. This produces a gentle updraft, which forces warm air near the ceiling down into the occupied space.

Check Windows and Doors

Sealing windows and doors is typically something that should be done in the fall; however if you didn’t get to it yet, now is a good time to do so before those freezing temps hit. Go around the outside of your home and seal up any cracks you see, such as those around wires and pipes that lead into the home and between siding and the trim. Replace cracked or cheap weather-stripping on windows and doors. To keep heat in rooms, use draft blockers that can easily be placed underneath doors.

Installing Attic Insulation

Adding attic insulation can help reduce heat loss in your home and can actually help you save on overall heating costs.