Must-Do Home Maintenance for Wisconsin Winters
Here in Wisconsin, our extreme weather happens in the winter. Protecting your investment is essential throughout times of extremity. We shovel snow. We take extra precautions, so our pipes don’t freeze. Short days and frigid temperatures can sometimes lull us into the comfort of complacency. But it remains important to stay proactive about your home maintenance. Here are a few things to check off your to-do list every year.
Keep humidity in check.
Invest in a hygrometer to measure your humidity. As a homeowner, water is your worst enemy. That includes tiny, invisible water droplets in the air. Your humidity should stay between 30 and 50%. If it falters from this range, you can control your home’s humidity using exhaust fans. Use a dehumidifier as needed in your interiors, but keep one running in the basement at all times. Snowmelt and moisture can encourage mold to grow. Since this (likely) isn’t a place you spend a lot of time in, it can happen before you realize it.
Decrease condensation on windows.
Do you know those quintessential sparkling, frosted window panes? They’re gorgeous—a perfect picture of a winter’s morning. But condensation on your panes can lead to window deterioration. Replacing your windows is a BIG project… and a pretty expensive one. You can help this by using fans and opening your curtains/ blinds. Let warm air from the home flow onto the windows every once in a while.
Change your air filters
Alright, this is an easy one. Changing air filters is home maintenance 101. But many don’t realize you need to change your air filters more frequently in the winter to keep your furnace working to the best of its ability.
Clean hood range filter to prevent grease accumulation
That’s the thing above your cooktop that sucks up the hot air while you’re cooking. Winter usually means you’re spending more time inside. Pollutants indoors are 2-5x higher than outdoors, even in major cities. Keeping the filer on your hood range clean will go along way in keeping your home air quality golden. This artifact filters out dirt, grease, and contaminants from your kitchen. Your hood range likely has either a baffle filter, mesh filter, or charcoal filters. If you have a charcoal filter- you’re in luck! They are self-cleaning and never need to be maintained. But baffle and mesh filters will need to be cleaned with soap and water in the sink or popped in the dishwasher.
Make sure PVC rings under your sink are tight and don’t leak.
A leak in freezing temperatures is no fun at all. It’s quick and easy to tighten your rings. Read this guide to show you how tight your rings should be.
Make sure batteries in the thermostat are up to date
You don’t want to be cranking your heat on higher and higher because it reads 59 degrees when it’s 71 in your home, just because the power in the batteries is running low. There’s no universal rule on how frequently to change your batteries. In some homes, the batteries can last five years; in others, a mere three months. It just depends on the system. So it’s worthwhile to check on the batteries at least once a year.
Lock and close all windows
It’s much easier to lock a window before the windows get frozen over. If you realize mid-way through winter that your window locks are open, they may have gotten stuck in place.
Leave cabinet doors open
Let air circulate through your kitchen and bathroom cabinets. There is a lot of hidden piping for your essential home appliances and functions under there. Let them breathe. Let them get some fresh, warm air to discourage them from freezing.
Have your fireplace cleaned
There’s nothing like a crackling fire on a cold winter’s day. It creates moments of comfort and coziness that help us get through winter. But it’s just as important to service your fireplace to use it! Sweeping out ashes regularly will go a long way, so will getting it professionally cleaned once a year. A chimney sweep will sweep up into the tops of your chimney, ridding it of ash that has accumulated towards the top. They’ll also clear your chimney of any nests that any local critters may have built-in your space.
Check smoke detector and carbon monoxide alert
Make sure the batteries on these devices are fully powered. Then run a test on each device to make sure they’re working correctly, especially if you’re utilizing that fireplace. Nothing is more important than your safety.
Get a winter storm survival kit together
We’re no stranger to winter storms in Wisconsin. Our local grid is perhaps more prepared to deal with these events than other cities, but it’s smart to prepare for emergencies. Assemble an emergency kit with these items:
- Emergency Blankets
- Hand Warmers
- Small, propane stove
- Lighters and lighter fluid
- Flashlights, headlamps, and extra batteries
- Solar-powered radio
- Dehydrated food or non-perishables
- Water purification tablets
- First aid kit
- Pocket Knife
- Waterproof Matches
- Tow rope/ tire chains
- Jumper cable and extra car battery
Check for air leaks
Scan your home compromised airways in your doors and windows. Re-calk or replace weather stripping where needed.
Install Reverse Ceiling Fans
A reverse function on your ceiling fan will work to push hot air down into your living level. This is great for homes with tall ceilings or open concepts. Don’t let your heating go to waste.
Protect your A/C Unit
Many people will cover their outdoor a/c unit with a tarp during the winter months. The goal is to shield it from inclement weather. But this isn’t always the best course of action. While you’re keeping extreme weather out, you’re also creating a nice, warm space for critters to move into. Instead, opt to put a sheet of plywood on top of the fan to protect it while not leaving any room for uninvited guests.
Clean your gutters of ice/snow build-up
Ice dams can sometimes form in your gutters during extreme cold, which leaves an opportunity for water to seep into your drywall, roof, and foundation. Keeping your gutters clear of ice and buildup will help make sure no leaks occur.
Are you finished with the to-do list? Treat yourself with a steaming mug of coffee (and maybe make it Irish! You just worked hard, after all). If you’re interested in learning more ways to protect your investment, reach out! We’re always happy to help.