Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to put away your tool belt. In fact, there are some critical wintertime home maintenance tasks you should take care of. And if you’re looking to do some updating, the holiday break can be a great time for DIY projects. Here are a few suggestions.
Home Maintenance: Give Your Furnace a Tune-Up
If you haven’t already, call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and clean your ducts. REALTOR® Zach Kniffen with Michigan Home Sale, Howard Hanna Real Estate Executives says it’s also a good time to change your furnace filter.
“You should change it every three months, maybe more often, depending on the type of filter, how much the furnace is used, and if the home has pets,” he said. “Dirty air filters cause your furnace to work harder due to decreased airflow. The harder your furnace works, the quicker its parts will wear out.”
Home Maintenance: Ensure Proper Airflow
This time of year, it’s not uncommon for homeowners to close vents in unused rooms. After all, if you’re not using those rooms why should you pay to heat them? It’s a good idea in theory, but many experts caution against doing this and instead suggest you open all vents for proper airflow.
And speaking of improved airflow, Kniffen says ceiling fans can be helpful in managing interior temperatures, as long as homeowners remember to change the settings.
“Many people don’t realize that there is a switch — typically located above the blades on the fan motor — that will reverse the airflow from counter-clockwise to clockwise,” he said. “This creates an updraft and circulates warm air around the room.”
Home Maintenance: Seal Your Windows
According to Energy Star, the government program launched by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), leaks around windows can lead to uncomfortable drafts and energy losses. The website says, “Window film covers are inexpensive, reduce drafts, help the house feel warmer during winter months, and reduce moisture buildup on the window due to condensation.”
Energy Star adds that in order to fully feel the effects of window insulation kits you must shrink-wrap the plastic coverings, which you can do by using a heat source (like a hair dryer) while installing the film.
Home Maintenance: Inspect Your Fireplace
Experts recommend that fireplaces be inspected, both inside and out, by a certified chimney sweep or inspector every year. Depending on how often the fireplace is used, it may also need to be cleaned annually.
With the increased use of both gas and wood-burning fireplaces this time of year, it’s also important to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. According to the National Fire Protection Association, smoke alarms should be installed on every level of a home, including the basement. There should also be one inside every bedroom and outside each sleeping area. Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.
Home Improvement: Declutter and Donate
Winter is the perfect time to take on home cleaning and organization projects. Decluttering can make your home feel larger, which is great for holiday entertaining, and it will also make next year’s spring cleaning easier.
Another benefit of decluttering is that you’ll likely find items to donate. Charities are typically most in need of donations during the winter months, so why not go through your family’s coats, scarves, mittens, boots, and clothing and bag up what you’ve outgrown or don’t need.
“And once everything is decluttered, consider adding some cabinets or shelving in your garage or basement to organize and store remaining items,” said Kniffen. “Building shelves yourself is also a fun DIY project and one that is pretty inexpensive.”
Home Improvement: Backsplash Updates
This time of year it’s all about small indoor upgrades that will make a huge impact. One of the more affordable options is adding a new backsplash to your kitchen and/or bathroom. The cost of this project depends on the size of your area and the type of material you use. Some homeowners may be comfortable DIY-ing the job while others may prefer to hire a professional.
“If you aren’t ready to take on a tile job yourself, you can find some high-quality peel-and-stick options,” said Kniffen. “I’m remodeling my own kitchen, and even though I’ve done tile work in the past, I chose to go with a peel-and-stick backsplash. It looks amazing, nobody can tell the difference, and it was an easy and inexpensive project.”
In addition to these suggestions, you may want to consider other home maintenance tasks like insulating your pipes, installing a programmable thermostat, and inspecting your attic insulation to ensure it’s sufficient. As far as home improvement projects, other popular wintertime upgrades include adding crown molding, changing out light fixtures and cabinet hardware, and installing wainscoting.
“And because you’ll definitely need some supplies and tools, consider looking into credit card offers or membership programs at local home improvement stores,” said Kniffen. “Many stores offer discounts, rebates, and free financing terms, which can help save you some money.”
For more home improvement tips and advice, follow the Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS® on Facebook.