Preparing Your Dallas Home for Winter: A Checklist
People are right to think they need a home. But the truth of the matter is, homes need people. Without people around to perform regular, routine maintenance houses deteriorate rapidly. Wintertime is especially harsh on your home’s interior, exterior, and critical systems like the HVAC and plumbing. Before we get into the thick of winter, you’ll need to do a few preparations to keep the house in great shape. Our winter home maintenance checklist is a good starting point.
Inspect and Prepare the HVAC System
Number one on our winter home maintenance checklist is the HVAC system. As an essential part of the house, preparing your HVAC system for winter is crucial. On average, a residential HVAC system will last between 12 and 15 years. Some can last over 20 years, while others will die within the first decade after installation. The way an HVAC system is maintained has a lot to do with its lifespan. The more meticulous you are about maintaining your HVAC system, the longer it will last (and vice versa).
Fall and spring are the best times to perform necessary HVAC maintenance. The filters will need to be changed at this time, and it’s a good idea to have an HVAC technician inspect the system. When performing Dallas air duct cleaning, the technician should make sure hot and cold air are running efficiently and going where they’re supposed to go.
Check for Drainage Issues
Water that is given a chance to pool around the foundation wall can cause a range of expensive issues for your home. First off, water left near the foundation walls can lead to bowing and cracking over time. Mold can find its way into the basement, further compromising the structural integrity of the house and increasing the incidence rate of allergies and respiratory infections.
Before winter hits, look around at the soil near the foundation. If the dirt has settled, then these are prime areas for water to pool and cause future repair issues with the property. Don’t panic if you find low spots and depressions in the soil next to the foundation, though. All you have to do is fill them in with dirt.
You’ll also need to find out where the water is coming from in the first place. It’s usually the gutters. If possible, add downspout extenders to your gutters to ensure that water is adequately directed away from the foundation.
Clean the Gutters
Next up on our winter home maintenance checklist are the gutters. The relatively mild seasons of spring and fall are the ideal times to check and clean the gutters. Once winter arrives, it might be too late. The best time to inspect and clean gutters and downspouts are after the trees have lost their leaves. Clogged gutters will cause drainage backups and overflows, leading to water running down the exterior of the house. This can severely damage the home’s siding and other exterior features. Foundations are also compromised when the gutters don’t work correctly.
Seal Exterior Wood
When temperatures are mild during fall, you’ll need to paint, caulk, or otherwise seal any exterior wood. Wood left exposed to the winter elements will become damaged from the freeze, thaw cycle, leading to cracking, splintering, and other structural and cosmetic issues.
Wood for decks is usually pressure-treated or built using rot-resistant wood species. However, trim around doors and windows is generally made out of pine boards that will quickly rot if not cared for adequately. Repairing damaged exterior trim is not easy and the repair will rarely blend in with the rest of the home’s aesthetic. The best cure? Prevention.
Keep the exterior trim painted and caulked - an easy DIY job. Any paint that is chipped, flaking, or cracking will need to be replaced during the fall. Cracked caulk will also need replacing. Simply scrape away the damaged paint or caulk and reapply it fresh.
What about decks? Even though decks are usually made with hardy materials, they still need maintaining before winter weather makes its yearly appearance. Painting, staining, and sealing the deck is a good idea to protect the wood beneath, but you don’t need to do this every year.
Not sure if your deck is due for sealing? Pour some water on it when it is dry outside. If the water beads, you do not need to do anything this year. But if the wood appears to absorb the water, then you need to seal the deck.
Protect and Seal Masonry and other Hard Surfaces
Driveways, sidewalks, and concrete patios will need protecting over the winter season. Apply concrete sealers to all hard surfaces in the fall after you fill in any cracks in the masonry or concrete. Water that gets into masonry cracks will freeze and thaw, leading to larger cracks over time and structural issues. By repairing breaks and sealing the masonry, you’ll ensure that these structures last for many years to come.
Test the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
The majority of house fires occur during the wintertime. People are running their furnaces and using the fireplace to keep the home warm and cozy. Adding to the risk of fires is the fact that the house is sealed up tight to keep the heat in, which makes carbon monoxide poisoning a bigger threat. Before winter starts, inspect all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they are working correctly, keeping you and your family safe. If you were diligent in having an HVAC technician inspect the furnace, they should have checked to make sure the furnace and water heater were correctly vented. Ventilation problems are an enormous source of carbon monoxide threats.
We're Your Dallas Experts for Air Duct Cleaning
Cold weather can wreak havoc on your home’s interior and exterior systems. Without adequate home maintenance, HVAC systems, decks, and masonry won’t last as long. Keep this winter home maintenance checklist in mind this fall to keep your home in tip-top shape and your family safe and warm as the temperatures drop. We've served the Dallas community for over 30 years. Contact a technician at SERVPRO of North Irving today to have your HVAC system inspected and cleaned.