Winter weather brings sledding, snowshoeing, ice skating, and hot cocoa by the fireplace. But subzero temperatures come with some discomforts and downright hazards.
Here are a few simple ways to keep your home a safe and comfortable place to live and visit:
Keep Driveways and Sidewalks Clear
It may be common sense, but it’s easy to forget when you don’t walk in front of your own house. You can ensure the safety of visitors and pedestrians alike with a little elbow grease.
Keep the snow shovel handy so that you won’t have to dig it out of the garage every time it’s needed.
A thin coating of cooking oil will keep snow from sticking to the shovel.
Lay down some salt or commercial de-icer on the sidewalk to keep perilous ice from forming.
Or, if you want to prevent nearby plants from salt desiccation and want a cheaper, more environmentally friendly alternative, mix 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water and pour it lightly on the walkway before a storm hits. Keep runoff to a minimum, as too much vinegar could also harm your landscaping.
If the storm was unexpected and you skipped the last step, mix 2 parts rubbing alcohol with 1 part water and apply it to the snow in the same way. This should keep it from icing over.
If all this sounds like a lot of hassle, call a snow removal service so that you can put your muscle behind other errands.
Look for Other Places Where Water and Ice Collect
You’ll often find large icicles pointing toward collection areas. If water is falling from your roof and collecting near the house, it can freeze and create a perpetual hazard. Applying salt is a start, but the root of the problem must be solved as well.
Regular snow melt could mean that too much heat is escaping through the roof. If your attic isn’t insulated, you could spend hundreds of unnecessary dollars this year on your heating bill — and make walkways dangerous, to boot. Consider getting insulation installed.
Make sure gutter spouts are pointed well away from the foundation. Otherwise, regular freezes next to the house can cause cracks in the concrete.
Inspect All Railings
You will rely more on handrails when the steps are icy or uneven. If they are loose or unstable, tighten or repair them to avoid injuries. Cracked or damaged steps deserve the same treatment, as do fences and gates.
Cover Your Central Air Conditioning Unit
Since you won’t be using it anytime soon, it makes sense to protect your AC unit from the elements.
Don’t forget to take the cover off before turning it on again in the spring or summer!
If you have a window-mounted air conditioning unit instead, take the time to remove and store it. If you don’t, you might have a perpetual cold spot in the house.
Change Your Furnace Filter and Get a Tune-up
If you have a forced-air ventilation system, it isn’t working at its full power unless the filter is changed regularly about every month in the winter and every 6 to 8 weeks at other times.
Check the manufacturer’s instructions for your furnace for the proper replacement schedule.
The type and quality of filter makes a difference. Pleated filters are more expensive than unpleated filters (about $15 versus about $3), but they are several times more effective because they have more filtration surface area. Better yet, get a filter with a top (2400) effectiveness rating. These cost close to $25, but they get the job done.
A tune-up will ensure that your system is clean, fully functional, and at its maximum efficiency. The less hard your furnace has to work to keep your home warm, the longer it will last. Make sure you tell your technician whether you have just changed the filter so that he doesn’t redo your work and charge you for it.
A little prevention can save a lot of pain. Make your home an inviting place to live and visit by making it safe and trouble-free. If you need help with these or other household handyman projects, we’ve got your back! Give us a call today. We service Ohio in the Butler-Warren area and nearby locations.