December 8, 2016 | Home Care

Protect your investment with simple home maintenance tips to get you through the winter months.

Performing routine home maintenance throughout the year will keep your home in top condition, and Winter is no exception. Follow these simple tips to keep your home warm and cozy, even as the temperatures outside start to fall.

Hoses and Hose Bibs

Before the first frost you will want to follow these simple steps to ensure that your hose bibs do not freeze and consequently leak. Please keep in mind that hose bib leaks due to improper winterization are not covered by your warranty.
  • Remove hoses from the garage and exterior hose bibs to prevent water pipes from freezing within the wall.
  • Wrap the pipes and the pressure reducing valve at your main water shut off to provide additional protection against freezing.
  • Shut off the main water supply to the hose bibs.
  • On the exterior, open the hose bib and drain the water from the line.
  • Push upward on the anti-siphon ring to ensure that all of the water is drained from the line.
  • On the interior, open the bleeder valve at the shut off (make sure you have something to catch the water in). 
  • Be sure this valve is tightened again after the water is drained.
  • Make sure that the black washer is in the cap.
  • Push upward on the anti-siphon ring to ensure that all of the water is drained from the line.

Gutters and Downspouts

Clean gutters and downspouts frequently throughout the year to prevent build up of leaves and other debris.
  • Neglected gutters can lead to wood rot problems, pest infestations, wet basements, foundation damage and many other expensive complications.
  • Be sure water is not coming down behind gutters and that all support brackets are securely in place.
  • Check to ensure water drains properly and doesn't pool, which can cause damage to foundations, driveways, and walkways.

Windows and Doors

Keep your home warm and cozy during the coldest months.
  • Inspect and repair any loose or damaged window or door frames.
  • Install weather stripping or caulking around windows and doors to prevent drafts, and help lower heating bills.
  • Clean and lubricate garage door hinges, rollers and tracks, and be sure screws are tight.

Sump Pumps

If you have a sump pump, we recommend installing a battery back-up sump pump, especially if your basement is finished.
  • The battery back-up pumps beep when they are in use, alerting you that there is a problem with your pump.
  • To prevent freeze ups or damage to your sump pump, remove exterior discharge hoses.

HVAC Systems

It is generally recommended that you hire an HVAC company to regularly maintain your HVAC system.
  • Change your furnace filters on a regular basis.
  • Consider having a heating professional check your heating system to ensure optimal performance and discover minor problems before they turn into costly major repairs.
  • Adjust the dampers if necessary. A little heat to the unused rooms of your home should be left on during the cold winter.
  • Clean your ducts to better your heating system’s efficiency as well as to reduce household dust and to provide relief to those with respiratory problems. Also check for air leakage, especially around joints.
  • Clean your thermostat’s heat sensor, contact points, and contacts. Check accuracy and replace if necessary.
  • Lubricate hot water heater’s pump and motor. Bleed air from radiators or convectors.
  • If leaving on vacation, do not turn the thermostat below 65 degrees. This practice will help protect your pipes in the wintertime.
  • Keep your outside condenser unit clear to prevent freezing.

Landscape and Yard Work

Although grass appears to stop growing in the fall, the roots are actually growing deeper to prepare for winter. Autumn is the best time to fertilize and reseed your lawn.
  • Prune your trees and shrubs after the leaves turn to encourage healthy growth in the spring.
  • Trim any tree limbs that are dangerously close to power lines or the roof of your home. Heavy snow and ice can cause damage in the winter.

De-icing Tips

It's best to consult your local hardware store for a deicing agent they recommend.
  • Do not use rock salt on concrete surfaces. The use of salt can lead to concrete deterioration, which is not covered by your warranty.
  • Do not use kitty litter on concrete driveways. The use of this product will have an adverse reaction to the concrete.
  • If you wash your car to remove salt or de-icing compounds placed on local streets, please remember that it is equally important to hose down your driveway afterwards to remove any harmful compounds.

General Tips

Before you know it, Spring will make it's way to town. Until then, here are a few final tips to get you and your home through Winter.
  • During extremely cold weather, you may consider leaving indoor faucets located on exterior walls dripping.
  • Place the emergency numbers for the electrician, plumber, and heating contractor in a convenient location. When the holidays arrive, some of these contractors will be open for emergencies only.
  • Remember to open the damper on the fireplace when using it. As you leave the room, be sure to close the glass doors on the fireplace to keep any sparks created by the fire in the firebox.
  • Remember to always keep drain covers open at your areaways (also called welled exits or walk ups).
  • If you are going to be away longer than a week, turn your water heater to the “Vacation” setting.

If you have any questions or concerns about your home, click on Contact us at the top of any page and select “Warranty/Customer care for my home” to submit a Customer Care request. You may also click here to view a list of phone numbers for Customer Care associates in your area. 


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