Home maintenance tasks for the winter and throughout the year

You can do this yourself, and tons of online videos show you step by step what to do.

Checkbook.org has our full list of tasks and more tips on what to do and, if you want to hire a professional, unbiased reviews of local businesses – craft services, HVAC contractors, plumbers, electricians, gutter cleaning services, and more. Until March 5, Washington Post readers will have free access to all of Checkbook’s reviews and advice at Checkbook.org/WashingtonPost/maintenance.

In the interests of brevity, I haven’t taken any security precautions. So, general rules: let’s be careful out there, especially on ladders; Wear eye protection; Wear a mask when crawling in dusty attics or crawl spaces. Unplug the power switch or turn it off when you’re using electricity before messing with it. lift with your legs; and read instructions, manuals and warning labels.

· Security check: test all smoke, carbon monoxide, and water leak detectors. Testing and resetting of sockets that are equipped with residual current circuit breakers (FI circuit breakers) and arc switches (FI circuit breakers). Make sure all home security devices are working.

· Purify the air: Replacing air filters is the most important maintenance task for heating and cooling systems. If a filter has a mat of dirt – that is, if you hold it up to a light it is hard to see through – it is time to replace it (usually at least four times a year).

· Do not hose down: To avoid flooding, check the rubber washing machine hoses for blisters, stress cracks, wear or loose connections. Consider replacing rubber tubing with stronger reinforced steel braid tubing.

Sink it: clean up the trash under your sinks in the kitchen and bathroom, turn on the taps and garbage disposal, and look for leaks from above.

· Test your sump pump backup plan: If your sump pump turns on frequently, consider adding a second sump pump to your system, as well as a moisture alarm up in the sump pit to avoid unexpected flooding.

· Design to Save Big Power: A few easy-to-do, inexpensive tasks can cut your electricity bill significantly. Check for leaks by turning off your oven on a cool, very windy day. Closing all windows and doors; Switching on all exhaust fans that blow air to the outside, e.g. B. bathroom fans or oven vents; and then light an incense stick, move around your house noticing where smoke is being blown to find sources of drafts. Focus on inspecting areas where different materials meet: brick and wood siding, foundations and walls, and between the chimney and siding. Then turn off all the lights in your attic and look for places where daylight can enter. Use sealant to seal any cracks or gaps less than a quarter inch wide. For larger cracks, use polyurethane foam sealant. Install weather strips and replace them every few years to minimize leakage from doors and windows.

Prepare for potential installation problems: test the main water shut-off valve to your house by closing it completely and then opening it again to make sure it is working properly. Make sure everyone who lives in your home is aware of its location and uses.

Get it out of the gutters: It’s a messy job, but no doubt someone should do it: Clogged gutters can be big problems, from wet basements to broken siding and siding to damaged interior walls.

Free Floor Drains: I received an expensive maintenance reminder in July when our basement flooded due to a clogged outdoor drain. Pour water down indoor drains to make sure they drain well. Make sure the outdoor drains are not covered or clogged with leaves and other debris.

· Avoid a lint-free fire trap: pull the power plug out of the socket and close the gas valve on a gas model and disconnect the supply line. Then remove the exhaust hose and inspect and clean the hose and accessible innards of the dryer of lint.

· Close hatches: Most burglars enter their homes through unlocked or poorly secured doors and windows. Assess your home’s security loopholes and defenses, particularly by looking for and replacing weak locks and dead outdoor security lightbulbs and cutting back any landscaping baddies who may be hiding behind them. And if you’ve lost keys, it’s best to change your locks.

Double-check the plumbing: check the exposed plumbing for holes or gaps and seal it with mastic tape or HVAC foil tape. Leaky ducts can waste 20 percent or more of your heating bill. Don’t worry about your ducts being cleaned regularly. Despite the statements made by the sewer cleaning industry, very few households require this service.

Check for Leaks: After heavy rain, check your attic for wet or water-stained wood. Especially the eye areas around your chimney that are usually most susceptible to seepage. Then examine your basement, basement, or crawl space for moisture issues. Periodically check all ceilings and walls throughout your home for discoloration and blistering, bubbly paint, wallpaper, or plaster – sure signs of water or roof leaks above.

· Can we seal? Examine and re-seal and (if necessary) re-grout bathtubs, showers and sinks.

Addressing Toilet Runs: Slow commode leaks silently waste gallons of water every day. To check yours, add a dozen drops of food coloring to the tank. Come back in an hour; If the paint has gone or got into the bowl, there is a leak. You may need to replace a worn rubber flap or diaphragm seal, or adjust the fill valve or ball valve (the big round thing attached to a rod).

Chimney sweep: check for excessive build-up of soot and creosote. This is a flammable black material that can cover the inside of the chimneys and create a fire hazard. There is no set time frame for how often chimneys should be swept. It all depends on its design and how often you use it. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends cleaning when one-eighth of an inch of soot builds up in masonry chimneys, earlier in factory-made chimneys. The problem is, while you definitely don’t want a log fire, the reviews Checkbook gets for chimney services often indicate that many companies are using inspection and sweeping facilities to recommend expensive, unneeded work. So be careful if a chimney service says your chimney is unsafe unless you pay thousands for a new liner or similar expensive repairs.

Help your humidifier: if you have a whole house model, clean it according to the instructions in the owner’s manual. This usually involves adding some vinegar or a calcium removal solution like Lime-A-Way.

Kevin Brasler is the Editor-in-Chief of Checkbook magazine for Washington Consumers and Checkbook.org, a nonprofit that aims to provide the best service and the lowest prices to consumers. It is supported by consumers and does not take any money from the service providers it evaluates. You will have access to all of Checkbook’s reviews and advice until March 5 at Checkbook.org/WashingtonPost/maintenance.

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