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If boots, a warm hat and a tuned-up snow blower are the only items on your winter preparation list, your home maintenance plan may need a makeover. These simple home maintenance projects can help lower your energy bills, prevent more costly repairs and/or increase the lifespan of your home.
1. Heating & Ventilation - Examine your fireplace and chimney system to ensure that no soot or creosote has collected. Any cracks or voids could potentially cause a fire. Before you turn the furnace or boiler on, replace the air filter and hire a professional to inspect the unit more thoroughly. These steps will improve the efficiency and life of your furnace and will ensure stable indoor air quality.
2. Seal Windows and Doors - If not properly sealed, windows and doors can be a major culprit for heat loss. To keep the warm air inside, inspect the weather-stripping around your home's windows and doors for leaks, rot or decay. Repair or replace structural framing, and caulk inside and out, if necessary.
3. Insulate well - One of the easiest and most effective defenses against heat loss is proper insulation. Prevent cold drafts from entering and the loss of heated air through basement headers, which, when left exposed, can make your furnace work harder. Look for a moisture-resistant product offering high thermal performance, such as Roxul Comfortbatt insulation. This type of mineral wool insulation makes installation simple. All that's needed is a serrated blade or bread knife. Cut the batt to fit the cavity and press into place. The insulation will help improve energy efficiency as soon as it's in place and provide savings over the lifetime of your home. Comfortbatt can also be used to top or replace old attic insulation. Aim for an R-50 or a depth of 16 inches.
4. Backyard Care - Save your property from potential damage by trimming overgrown trees and shrubs to prevent ice-laden branches from thrashing against electrical wires and your home's exterior. Drain/shut off any exterior faucets and sprinkler systems to prevent freezing. Ensure rain or snow drains away from the house to avoid foundation problems.
5. Roof and Gutters - Inspect your roof for shingles that are warped, damaged or even missing to prevent a future leak. Use roofing cement and a caulking gun to seal joints where water could penetrate, such as around the chimney, skylights or vent pipes. Make sure that your gutters and downspouts are securely fastened. Downspouts should extend at least five feet away from the home to prevent flooding.
When it comes to preventative maintenance, a little time and effort can save thousands in energy costs and repair bills over the lifetime of your home.