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What tasks should be on my winter to-do list?

The weather outside can be frightful, which of course means you can turn your attention to maintaining your appliances and indoor systems.
Exterior, Basement, & Foundation
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Check your home's crawlspace for water damage, animals, or other foreign matter.

Why

It's important to find leaks in pipes or leaks from the outside as soon as possible. Water can breed mold and mildew while animals can damage home systems and spread disease.

Related Advice

How do I remove mold?

How do I hire a pest control company?

When

Winter & Summer

Who Can Help

This is a do-it-yourself project. If you see uninvited pests or dampness in your home, you can find waterproofing pros and pest control experts on Kudzu.com.

Interior & Appliance
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Replace or clean filters in furnace

Why

Filters prevent dust and other allergens from circulating through the ductwork. However, blocked filters can make a furnace work much harder, causing it to run less efficiently and possibly reducing its lifespan. And a dirty filter won't be as effective as a clean filter at blocking dust from eventually making its way into your living spaces.

Related Advice

Services an HVAC contractor should perform

HVAC maintenance you should do yourself

Related Video


Watch this video to learn the cost of an HVAC tune-up.

Who Can Help

This is a do-it-yourself job, but be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions. HVAC pros can answer any questions you might have or you can schedule regular maintenance with them.

When

Winter or every 4 months while furnace is used.

Look for leaks in toilet water feed and tank bottom.

Why

Catch leaks before water can cause major damage. If undetected, leaks can rot wood or damage ceilings if toilets are located above the first floor

Related Advice

How does a home plumbing system work?

Which plumbing jobs are for experts only?

Who Can Help

Tightening a few bolts might be all that's required. Call a plumber if your leak seems more involved.



When

Winter & Summer

Clean your washing machine's water inlet filters. Check hoses and replace if leaking.

Why

Hoses that are near the end of their life span could rupture and cause water damage. Kinked hoses also could leak.



Who Can Help

If you have any questions, contact an appliance repair specialist.

When

Winter & Summer

Trip circuit breakers and GFI's, or ground fault interrupters, monthly to insure proper protection

Why

You'll receognize the GFIs by the little buttons between the plugs on outlets located in spots where electrical shock hazards exist, such as in the bathroom or near the kitchen sink. They're designed to prevent electrical shock by "tripping," or breaking the current. So, it's clearly a good idea to push the test & reset buttons regularly to make sure they're working.

Related Advice

How to hire an electrician

How your home's electrical system works

Who Can Help

Contact an electrician if the GFI is not working properly.



When

Every Month

Check for leaks around and under sinks, showers, and tubs.

Why

Hidden leaks can, over time, cause damage to floors, ceilings beneath, or walls in adjacent rooms.

How

Turn on the faucet and check for leaks in the pipes under the sink. Look for mold on shower walls that could indicate there's leakage behind them. And check for cracks in the grout where the tub meets the floor.





When

Winter & Summer

Clean grease filter from your range hood

Why

Dirty hood filters won't be able to prevent kitchen smells from being circulated throughout the house.



Who Can Help

This is a do-it-yourself job, with some help from a degreaser. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations or contact an appliance repair pro for help.

When

Each Season

Clean out the refrigerator, wash door gasket, clean drain hole and pan, vacuum the condenser coils.

Why

Vacuuming the condenser coils will keep your refrigerator running efficiently.



Who Can Help

This is a do-it-yourself job, but refer to your refrigerator's manual or manufacturer's Web site to find out specifics on how to do it. Or, contact a recommended appliance repair pro on Kudzu.com.

When

Twice a Year.

Backyard & Landscape
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As fall ends, rake the last bit of fallen leaves to prepare for winter

Why

Lawns naturally need sunlight to thrive. And there's less of it during the shorter days of late fall and winter. A mat of thick leaves can kill that grass you so carefully tended during the warmer months.

Related Advice

How do I hire the right lawn care company?

Do I need a lawn analysis?

Who Can Help

Most lawn care companies offer basic packages of year-round maintenance that include fertilizing, trimming, edging and weed control.

When

Late Fall, Early Winter

Spot treat any cases of winter weeds in warm-season turf & spread a crab-grass pre-emergent.

Why

You must apply pre-emergent crabgrass killer before the crabgrass seeds germinate, which happens in the early spring when the temperature of the surface soil rises into the 50s and 60s. So, timing is critical.

Related Advice

How do I hire the right lawn care company?

Do I need a lawn analysis?

Who Can Help

Contact a lawn care company; they can help you analyze your lawn's needs and suggest when to spread pre-emergent.

When

Varies depending on the severity (or lack of severity) of the winter season where you live.