Winter Maintenance Tips for the Home
Aging Matters

It's difficult to think about cold weather when it's over 90 degrees outside. But if you want to save money and hassle for your yard, pipes, and roof before the low-temperatures roll around, it's a good idea to plan now. It's easier to do them in the drier and warmer weather, plus keeping up with the chores will save you money down the road.

To maintain a healthy home, occupants should keep it clean, pest-free, safe, and well-ventilated. HUD suggests that proper upkeep will reduce allergens, prevent illness, and reduce injury from accidents. Fall maintenance routines can prevent water damage and put in safeguards from hazards, especially fires. Water is a home's worst rival. It can destroy your residence.

Here's what to do now:

  • Clean gutters and downspout (my favorite.) Trees surround my house, so drainages fill with leaves and debris. If you live in a place that has colder temperatures, be sure to keep clean. The job is easy to do if you can climb a ladder safely.
  • Clean the furnace filter and discard dust build-ups. Change the filters in heating and air conditioning units. If you have pets or old houses with a lot of dust, you need to replace the filters monthly.This action makes it easier to regulate the temperature and reduce utility bills.
  • Trim trees, especially the ones surrounding the home. Cutting and shaping them keeps the trees healthy. Hire a professional to do the job. Be sure to cut back dead branches because high wind and heavy snow can weaken them and fall.
  • Repair roof damage even if just one shingle needs replacing because much harm can occur if water gets under it, and that can turn into a costly fix.
  • Clean your chimney. Hire a chimney sweep to check the fireplace for safety and clean out the residues of last year's fires. Remember to remove the built up soot, plus you need to make sure critters haven't moved in.
  • Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors--test the gadgets and replace the batteries every six months. Ensure that you have fire extinguishers and place them in appropriate spots throughout the home.
  • Replace weather-stripping on exterior doors. If you can see outside light around and at the bottom of the doors, it's time for repairs, and you need to add stripping.
  • Seal cracks and gaps in windows with caulk or replace if needed. If you can afford more energy-efficient windows, then have them replaced.
  • Drain and winterize exterior plumbing. Inspect sink, shower, and bath caulking for wear.
  • Clean the clothes washer regularly; it will improve it's cleaning ability. Some manufacturers suggest a cleaner to cleanse residue from the washer, just follow the instructions on the package. Remember to vacuum lint from the dryer vent.
  • Maintain the underground sprinkler system. Before winter, you need to shut down and drain the system, plus drain and bring in water hoses.

Carol Marak, aging alone advocate, columnist, speaker and editor at A former family caregiver, She earned a Fundamentals of Gerontology Certificate from the USC Davis School of Gerontology and writes about personal concerns while growing older.

Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column

Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.

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