Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

Protect your home from costly, unnecessary repairs this Chicago winter.

winter in Chicago

1. Disconnect garden hoses from all exterior hose bibs. If they stay attached, the valves will get damaged and will likely cause interior flooding.

2. For the old, non frost-proof type of hose bibs, close the water shut-off valves inside the house and open the bib valves to drain the water before the winter.

3. Replace the filters on all heating/cooling systems and get your equipment tuned up.

4. Clean the dryer vent. Static electric sparks from the dry weather can ignite lint.

5. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every month. Use the time change as a reminder to replace batteries. Also make sure that fire extinguishers haven’t expired.

6. Test other electrical devices including GFCI outlets and circuits, pumps, battery backups, and generators according to their instructions.

7. Check your roof for flaking, buckling, and deteriorating shingles.

8. Clean your gutters and downspouts. Gutters should be cleaned twice a year, in spring and in early fall. Also make sure downspouts are properly directed away from the house.

9. Clear all exterior drains of leaves and mud, and later in the season, of snow and ice.

10. Prune dead tree branches and those that are too close to power lines or your roof. This task is best left to late fall, as pruning during warm weather can spread tree diseases.

11. Put landscaping equipment and patio furniture into storage. Gas left in the lawn mower can deteriorate and damage the tank, so either run the mower dry or add a fuel stabilizer first.

12. Take snow equipment out of storage. Stock your car with the ice scraper and a shovel. Rethink using salt as a de-icer, as it can degrade concrete steps and other masonry, and cause harm to pets and plants.

13. Remove window A/C units. Inspect for mold growth and clean the filter before storing.

14. Replace mesh screens with storm doors and windows.

15. Change the direction of your ceiling fans back to clockwise. At a low speed, the fans will pull up cold air and push the displaced warm air down.

16. Feel for air drafts around windows and doors, and seal with caulk or weatherstripping.

17. Insulate exposed pipes for increased efficiency.

18. Now that your house is well-sealed, make sure your indoor air is healthy. Consider adding houseplants, a humidifier, and/or an air purifier depending on your air quality needs. Also test the basement for radon.

19. Regularly used fireplaces should be cleaned once a year. Also check that the damper opens and closes.

20. Fall weather makes this the ideal season to install new hardwood floors and give your house a fresh coat of paint.

If you would like to learn more about our design-build home addition and renovation services or find out how we can help with a project you have a mind, please get in touch.

Photograph by Vidar Nordli Mathisen