Winter can be hard on a home as well as us living through it. There are some things you can do that will help your home survive the winter in style and make you more comfortable at the same time.
1. Change your furnace filter
it is likely the most often over looked item yet is the easiest and cheapest item that you can look after. A clogged or dirty air filter impedes the flow of warm air through out the home. Some rooms may not heat up enough and you wind up turning the thermostat higher to compensate. It is also hard on the furnace fan motor.
There are a number of different qualities of filters. Generally the more you pay the better the filtering quality and quite likely the more frequent you should change it. If you have not changed the filter in a while be ready for a surprise when you take the old one out.
2. Ice Damming on the lower part of the roof.
If you have had an ice damming problem in previous winters, it will not go away by itself. It will prematurely age the shingles and is sign of heat loss, lack of vapor barrier or lack of ventilation. Increasing the ventilation to your attic is the quickest and easiest solution to the immediate problem, but will not cure the lack of a good vapor barrier and added insulation to stem the heat loss. Installing additional roof vents can be done by a roofing company, a home repair company or good knowledgable DIY selfer. Adding insulation is a bit more technical as you can get too much in the attic causing other problems. Adding a vapour barrier on the warm side of the insulation to stop vapour transfer is more difficult. Maybe time for a professional.
3.Clean out window wells and eavetrough.
Leaves dropping in the fall will gather in the eave trouphs which will clog up and block spring melt from your roof., sending the meting water over top of the trouph and gathering around your foundation, just looking for a way to seep into the bacementyou just finished.
Leaves in the window wells will form into a wet mass of goop if we have a mid winter thaw, then will refreeze solid forming a frozen cap in the window well. It will be the last thing that melts in the spring. Any snow that falls on top of the frozen cap can't seep away when it melts and may run inside your bacememt through the window seals and frames.
4. Furnace inspection.
This is a huge safety issue, your furnace may not have been running much since last winter. It may need to have a yearly service check done by a competent furnace company. You can clean it, nblow out the dust and please remove all the inevitable clutter that gathers around the furnace. But the actual safety and operations check should be done by a qualified tradeperson.
5. Fire/Smoke/Carbon monoxide detectors.
Make sure you have them and they are operational, and change the batteries. Some of the newer ones have 10 year lithuim batteries, watch for those.
These are just a few items, more in a follow up post.