The leaves are changing, the air is getting crisp and cold, and the daylight hours are getting rapidly shorter. Unless you are in Arizona or Hawaii, it’s time to move the clocks back one hour and prepare for the upcoming winter season.
This is a great time to take care of a little biannual maintenance. Here are my top seven tips that will help keep your surroundings safe and cozy all winter:
1. Test (or Install) Your Smoke Alarms
How long has it been since you’ve paid attention to the smoke alarms in your home? Most ignore then until they hear the annoying chirp. Manufacturers recommend testing them monthly but who really does that?
Now is a great time to not only check to see if your smoke alarms are operational but also to change their batteries. Experts also advise to change these out every 10 years. If you are replacing them, you may also want to consider switching to interconnected smoke alarms for additional safety.
2. Have Your Furnace and Water Heater Inspected
This is a great time to have your furnace and water heater inspected and give them a little routine maintenance. It’s certainly the best way to head off any mid-winter problems.
Aside from a general inspection to make sure that all of the small components are in good shape, you should also replace any filters your furnace uses and have the vents swept clean. I don’t know about you, but we have been changing our air filter more often than usual because of all the smoke for the wild fires. The photo below shows our dirty filter after only two weeks usage next to a new clean filter. It’s also a good time to have the sediment drained from your water heater and check for leaks.
Let me know f you need a licensed contractor referral in Mammoth Lakes or Mono County for either of these tasks.
3. Clean out Those Gutters
Ice and snow are just around the corner — and those with rain gutters may find they are currently clogged with leaves and pine needles left from the summer and fall. That can turn into a major hassle in the middle of winter and can cause water damage.
While no one really enjoys this task, it is definitely time to get the ladder out and remove the mess from those gutters. If you are not up to the task, let me know if you need a reliable referral to get this done.
4. Replenish Your Home’s Emergency Kit
2020 has been a rough year for a lot of people. Between problems with natural disasters and the global COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to have an emergency kit in the home. Even if you aren’t worried about suddenly having to evacuate, you should be prepared to hunker down and shelter in place, if needed. Most of us went through this drill during the wild fires as the fires grew closer and the possibility of evacuation increased. If not, there are some pretty checklists out there that can tell you how to stock your emergency kit for the winter, but you probably have a clear picture of the basics: Plenty of non-perishable or canned foods, a first-aid kit, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, water, pet supplies, paper products and over-the-counter medications for colds and fevers, snow shovel, emergency blanket and gloves are all a must.
5. Get the Chimney and Fireplace Inspected and Cleaned
If you haven’t already started longing for a warm, cozy fire at night, it won’t be long before you’re ready to throw some logs in the fireplace and get started. Before you do, however, you should have your chimney inspected for any blockages or damage and your fireplace cleaned of leftover ash. There are several local contractors who provide this service – let me know if you need a referral.
This is also a good time to stock up on wood.
6. Do a Little Fall Cleaning Around the House
Since most people spending a lot of time indoors in the winter, fall cleaning is super important.
With that in mind, make a list of household jobs that you need to tackle. Suggestions include:
- Shake out any rugs and deep-clean the carpets and upholstered furniture
- Flip the mattress and wash (or replace) the pillows on the bed
- Sweep behind the heavy furniture and appliances (and don’t forget the coils)
- Re-caulk the windows and replace the weather strips on the doors
- Put away the deck furniture, the garden hoses and yard tools
- Take down the drapes and shears and wash them, or wipe down all your window blinds
- Dust off the ceiling fans and clean all the light fixtures
If you do these things now, you’ll definitely be ready for the upcoming winter and holiday season.