If you’re lucky enough to own a home, then you know there’s a sense of pride in being in charge of your own house. You have the absolute freedom to do whatever you want to the property. If you want to dig out a vegetable garden in the yard, paint the kitchen Barbie pink, or swap out all of your doorknobs for crystal antiques, you don’t need to ask permission to do so. The house is yours and yours alone, which means that you are in total control over it — and that means its wellbeing and maintenance too.
Whether you’re a brand new homeowner or have lived in your house for decades, then you already know: homeownership is a LOT of work. If you’ve always lived in a rental, then you’ve likely not been in charge of all the little things that add up to home maintenance. At an apartment, you can simply call the custodial team to take care of things like leaf piles outside or a leaky faucet, but surprise — there’s nobody at your house to do it but you now!
As the autumn season solidifies into a freezing cold winter, now is as good a time as any to start making repairs on your house. In fact, now is the time that you should start making those repairs as soon as possible. Between bad weather and long, dark nights, there is a greater chance for repairs gone ignored to become a huge issue sooner rather than later. If you think you’ve made all necessary repairs or you don’t know where to start, never fear: We have a checklist for you all ready for this winter’s home maintenance and repairs.
Address Any and All Plumbing Problems
Clogged or broken pipes are always obnoxious, but they’re easier to take care of during the warmer months. In the winter, you run the risk of these annoyances turning into Big Fat Issues down the road: Pipes that are not properly winterized can freeze and burst, which is a messy and expensive fix. Furthermore, clogged pipes are ridiculously unsanitary and can be full of nasty things like germs and contaminants. In a world where a sanitized house is the new black, do you really want to risk spreading bacteria all over your home? If you’re noticing that you’ve got leaky pipes, or that your sinks and showers are not draining well, it’s a good idea to look for a plumbing contractor to visit your house.
Sorting through different plumbing services can be a challenge, especially since plumbers can be so expensive, but you might consider asking your homeowner’s insurance provider before hiring someone. Speak to an agent and explain your circumstances. Just like with your health insurance, your homeowner’s insurance likely has a list of contractors that they are affiliated with and are covered by your policy. If you need to find someone on your own, however, we recommend the following tips:
- Read online reviews, but make sure that you read them properly. This means go to many different review websites instead of only one, and look at commonalities between all of them. Are there similar complaints about work done, as well as similar positives? Does the plumber respond to negative reviews, and if so, are they professional in so doing? A handy tip is to read the three-star reviews. Generally, these will show you the middle ground and you can make a more informed decision.
- Ask about consultation prices. Some plumbers will come to your house for free and offer you a quote, but some charge a consultation fee.
- Ensure that the plumber is licensed and certified in your state. Even though some people can learn by trade and are handy with a wrench and pliers, there is something to be said about a state certification and professional training. If the repair job is shoddy and ill-performed, you have every right to go to places like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and file a formal complaint. On the flip side, if the contractor is just a Jane or Joe Schmo off the street, unfortunately you are at fault for not doing your due diligence and have no grounds for a real complaint.
Wintertime is hard on your pipes. Ensure that you’re taking good care of your plumbing and quickly finding a repairperson for any clogs or leaks that you see. While it’s not easy or fun to hire a plumber to come to your house, at least you can rest assured that you’re taking precautions to protect your home and your family in the meantime.
Show Your Roof Some Love
Roofs are supposed to last anywhere between ten and 20 years. If yours falls between that age range then you’re likely in relatively good shape, but don’t assume that! Your roof is the literal helmet for your house, and a roof that needs repairs can lead to more serious, expensive problems when left unaddressed. Look for signs of roof damage like dripping or leaking, soft spots in your ceiling, and musty, earthy odors to alert you of a possible mold infestation.
Heavy winds, rain, and overall bad weather can do a number to your roof. Even a few missing shingles can cause rain seepage and mold, which can eventually result in an entire roof replacement. If you’ve done your homework, then you know how much a new roof can cost. Anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000 is not at all out of the realm of possibility, depending on the size of your house. Regularly inspect the roof for damage, or hire a roofer who specializes in this kind of home maintenance. A roofer generally has a team who can help them make roof repairs with the proper tools and equipment, and they can also offer suggestions on how to keep your house in good shape until the next check-up.
Even though it’s the most inconvenient place in your house, your roof needs to be inspected and maintained like anything else. Contact a roofing specialist to come out and take a look, and be sure to follow your senses when looking for possible signs of damage. The sooner that you address these problems, the sooner that your house can get back into tip-top shape.
Check on Your Siding
Even if your house has been freshly painted, your siding still deserves to be looked after. Damaged, broken siding can be detrimental and expensive in so many ways: Bug infestations, water seepage, and mold can result in an entire siding replacement for the whole house. This is extremely expensive and time-consuming, so avoid bad siding causing a migraine for you.
Regularly check your home for damaged siding, patching any cracks and holes that you see as you go. It’s a good idea to power wash your house during the warmer months to get rid of the regular excess buildup like moss and dirt, plus power washing can help you see what damage has occurred. If you need to replace your residential siding or have it looked at, contact a siding service to get you taken care of. Not only will siding specialists help you to fix whatever needs fixed, but they can also look for warning signs that you mightn’t be aware of.
Since wintertime causes wood and other materials to freeze, expand, and then shrink again, it’s not a wild idea to imagine that your siding could become damaged this winter. Don’t overlook the importance of checking your siding and ensuring that everything looks good — and getting prompt help if it doesn’t look so good.
Get Your Head In the Gutter
Even if spring and summer are the best times to show off your yard’s natural beauty, don’t decide that winter means a free pass on yardwork. If anything, you should be more attentive to your house’s yard and outdoor maintenance during the winter so that you can avoid dealing with more expensive repairs later on. We already mentioned the importance of checking your siding for holes and cracks, but your gutters should also be at the forefront of house repairs.
Although you should be checking your rain gutters all throughout the year, the fall and winter are an especially important time. Autumn has caused the leaves to drop from the trees, and your house is the perfect place for everything to settle. Winter weather can really hammer those fallen leaves into your gutters, causing clogs and improper water drainage.
Regularly clear the leaves out of your gutters at least once a month. This can mean manually taking handfuls of leaves and gunk and clearing them out, or it can mean hiring a service to do the dirty work for you. Regardless of the method you choose, the result is the same: Free flowing gutters that spit out excess water and prevent leaks, overflow, and potential moisture problems in your siding and on your roof.
Windows to the Soul
What kind of condition are your windows in? If you’re noticing that your interior windows are fogging up in cold weather, or are showing more condensation than you think is necessary, there’s a good chance that they’re old and need to be replaced. Windows can cost a hefty price tag, but if you neglect them for long enough, then the cost will be even more expensive if you’re not prepared for it.
Double-paned windows are the new normal in house building, preventing heat from entering and exiting the house, and they also fight moisture and protect your siding and window sills from mold and moisture. If you’re thinking about replacing your house’s windows, look for glass that is stamped with the Energy Star label. This certification shows that the product is energy-efficient, made with specialty materials that will help conserve energy and will save you money on your heating and cooling bills.
Again, your homeowner’s insurance might be able to help you with the cost of window replacement — not to mention that new windows will likely save you money long-term on your policy. Ask your agent what can be done to help you out financially with the cost of window replacement, and if nothing else, ask about a monthly discount if you were to pay for them yourself. Energy-efficient appliances and upgrades to your house can help you in more ways than one.
Fight Infestations Before They Happen
Here’s a part of home ownership that you likely hadn’t thought of before: BUGS. Ugh, yes, the ugly truth about having a house: You’re the resident spider and roach killer. But there is good news! There are ways to prevent bug infestations from becoming a problem before they can even occur.
All kinds of nasty, million-legged critters can find their way into your home and make your life a living nightmare. This is what makes pest control services a hugely necessary expense for your house, especially if you live in the South. Pest experts will come and fumigate your house, killing any unwanted visitors that are currently lurking, as well as spray a preventative shield around the house’s perimeter to prevent bugs from entering.
Even if you aren’t squeamish, you’ve got to admit that your caveperson instincts kick in when you see a wriggling creature with too many legs. Keep pests and vermin at bay by doing the right thing: Finding pest control to help you before it becomes an issue!
We’ve all seen that creepy house in our neighborhood that looks like something out of a horror movie: broken windows, chipped, cracked siding, and a chimney or foundation that is crumbling to dust. Your house does not deserve to be that one. By taking care of problems as they occur and not waiting to make necessary repairs, you are ensuring the longevity of your house and making it a safer place to live and raise a family.
A house left unmaintained will be an expensive fix — it’s not a matter of IF! About 35% of remodeling jobs in the United States involve an entire house renovations, largely thanks to problems gone unattended. Even if a full-scale house renovation is in your eventual long-term plans, don’t make it happen thanks to necessity. Remodel your house at your leisure, but ensure that you’re maintaining what needs to be maintained. Even if your home is well-built and has been standing for a long time, keep it in the best possible shape to ensure that it continues to stand well after you move out.