You’ve heard all the adages: a stitch in time, an ounce of prevention—they are cliches because they are true, and nowhere more so than when it comes to home maintenance. A little preventative maintenance at home can save you big headaches and bills during the coldest of months.
1. Rain woes
You don’t have to live in the Pacific Northwest to prepare for the wet season. In Southern California, the rainy season usually falls between November and March. To avoid dealing with wet weather woes, be sure to: have your roof checked and repaired if necessary, make sure the gutters and downspouts are clean, and ensure that water drains away from your home and foundation.
2. Gasoline mishaps
If you don’t plan to use gas-powered items like lawn mowers and leaf blowers for a few months, it’s a good idea to either add a fuel stabilizer such as Sta-Bil (the often easier option) or empty the tanks. Gas shouldn’t sit in a tank or can for more than a few months because the ethanol can begin to break down, adding water to the fuel and preventing it from combusting when you do try to rev that engine up again come spring and summer.
Additionally, inspect and maintain your backup generator and make sure you have full, safely closed, and appropriately stored containers of gas for it. Be sure to stay safe by never storing gasoline indoors.
3. Heat source failure
Check your furnace and replace filters as necessary. If you have a fireplace, hire a professional to clean the chimney at least once a year. Stock up on fuel (firewood, kerosene, stove pellets) early to avoid paying premiums during high-demand periods. Also make a note to check kerosene heaters for leaks or damage.
Bonus firewood tip: store your main wood pile away from your house to discourage rodents and spiders from entering through cracks in the walls and foundation. When you bring wood indoors, leave it in the garage or on the porch for a few hours to allow small creatures to escape before you bring them inside.
Add door sweeps and weatherstripping to your home to reduce heating bills. Check for air leaks around window frames by holding up a candle or lighter and watching the flame for signs of draft. Leaks may be repaired by caulk if the frame is undamaged, but broken or weathered frames need to be replaced. Check insulation for any dark or dirty areas that may indicate breaches where air can get through. Installing new insulation will reduce your heating bills and make your home more comfortable, but it can earn rebates from your utility company as well.
Enjoy the rest of the winter in your safe and cozy home—before you know it, spring will be here!