Winter Property Maintenance Tips
Take advantage of your extra time indoors to tackle decorating & remodeling projects that don't require extensive ventilation. Also prevent costly and hazardous problems in your house by inspecting the following areas:
- Check your ceiling at the exterior edges and surfaces around windows for evidence of moisture, which could indicate ice dam problems.
- Check the ceilings beneath bathrooms for leaking.
- Check all tile joints for adequate grout.
- Check all stairs (and railings) for loose elements.
- Check caulking, look for leaks around showers, bathtubs, sinks, faucets, toilet bases and supply valves. Repair as needed.
- Test all smoke and safety alarms. If you don't have a smoke detector on each floor, buy and install them.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector, or test your existing one. The State of Minnesota requires all homes have a CO detector.
Utilities & Electric
- Know the location of all gas shut-off valves and the main water shut-off. Label them.
- Check for exposed wiring and cable.
- Check cords and plugs and replace at first sign of wear or damage.
- Label circuits. Trip circuit breakers and ground fault interrupters to ensure proper function.
- If fuses blow, circuit breakers trip frequently, or any appliance sparks or shorts out, contact a licensed electrician for repairs.
- Make sure your heating system and all fuel burning appliances are adequately vented and properly maintained.
- Shovel sidewalks and driveways before foot and car traffic makes snow hard to remove.
- Very carefully remove heavy snow from roofs to avoid ice dams. (Hire a professional if you're unsure how to do this.)
- If your home is near a fire hydrant, shovel snow away from the hydrant so firefighters can quickly access it.
- If your home is next to a storm sewer opening, shovel snow away from the sewer grate when temperatures begin rising.
An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas.
For valuable information about the causes and consequences of ice dams, as well as how to prevent them, visit the University of Minnesota Extension Services website.