The winter season is in full swing here in the valley. After much anticipated wait the rain has finally arrived. With the rain, come the hidden leaks. If you notice a leak in your home get it looked at as soon as possible! Damage caused by the water can be much more expensive than having the leak taken care of.
In additional to leaks there are several home maintenance items that should be addressed during the winter.
Here in the central valley a lot of folks use their wood fireplace to heat their homes, myself included. It’s hard to beat the heat produced by almond or walnut firewood. However, it is very important to have your fireplace chimney pipes inspected and cleaned out. Buildup on the sides of the chimney pipes reduce exit flow and can cause chimney fires. If you can’t remember the last time the chimney was cleaned out it’s probably time to call a chimney sweep. Here is a great article on inspections. https://www.mychimney.com/blog/about/one-inspection-will-solve-three-major-problems/
Reverse Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fan rotation ties in directly with using your fireplace in the winter. All ceiling fans have a small switch that changes the fan rotation from clockwise to counterclockwise. For winter you want the fan to be set to clockwise to produce an updraft. This will redistribute warm air from the ceiling down. This switch should be visible from the ground but I have I installed some ceiling fans where the switch is hidden behind the glass bulb for the lights. This change will help keep the warm air down produced by your fireplace and help reduce your energy bill in the winter months.
Although this is more common in colder climates, we still get several days during the winter that reach sub freezing temps. One of the best ways to prevent this from happening is wrapping exterior pipes with foam tubes designed for this specific purpose. We all know that freezing water expands. When this happens inside exterior pipes they can sometimes crack, causing leaks. The foam tubes are inexpensive and very simple to install. One common area this can happen is at the irrigation supply valves. If the correct PVC thickness is not used during install it may crack when it freezes.
Daylight shortens up in the winter months. This is a perfect time to check your outdoor lighting. Go around the exterior of your home and make sure all lights are functioning properly. If you have motion sensor flood lights check that the motion sensor is working properly by walking across the light path. Also check that the lights are pointing in the correct direction.
Clean Window Weep Holes
Honestly, this is a maintenance area I never think about because it is so small. However the weep holes in a window frame serve an important purpose. As it rains, water runs down the window and into the window track. As the water builds up in the track it will spill out of the weep hole to the exterior of the home. If the weep holes are plugged up, water will pool up inside the window frame and possibly leak to the inside of your home. Take a walk around your home and check the weep holes on the windows to make sure they are clear of any obstructions.
Air Filter Replacement
Many people change this item out every month, some every 6 months. It depends on how much dirt is being brought into your home as well as other factors. Bottom line is that in the winter months the central heating system will be used a lot to heat a home if there is no fireplace. This is an easy item to switch out yourself, but if you do not feel like climbing a ladder give me a call and I can help you with that.
Bath Exhaust Fan Cleaning
Although the HVAC filter is an item we tend to remember to change, cleaning the exhaust fan in our bathrooms tends to be way down there on the priority list! However, thousands of homes are lost each year due to these fan motors catching on fire. Lint buildup on the fan and motor cause motors to work harder, overheat and eventually burn up. If you can see lint built up on the grate covering your exhaust fan it’s time to take it off and clean it up. Do not let it get as bad as this photo! This is a disaster waiting to happen. Using a vacuum with extensions makes this job an easy task.
Smoke/CO Alarm Check
Newer smoke alarms have a 10 year battery life. It is important however to test each smoke alarm in your house periodically. There should be a smoke alarm located in each bedroom, hallway and common area. When installing a smoke alarm the date should be written down in order to remind you when the alarm was installed. This will remind you when it is time to replace the smoke alarm. Testing is as easy as pushing the test button on the alarms and making sure the alarm goes off. CO alarms should also be tested the same time as smoke alarms. If you do not have a CO alarm installed in your home you should get one as soon as possible. You can purchase one that plugs directly into an outlet making installation a breeze.