As winter draws closer, the time to perform any last minute home maintenance becomes shorter and shorter. You can still do home maintenance during the winter, of course, but it’s far better to have it taken care of beforehand. To ensure that you have a warm, safe winter, there are some warning signs you need to keep an eye out for before the cold weather really sets in.

Indoor Drafts

Drafts in your house can be a pretty big problem. Not only are they cold and unpleasant, but they prevent your home from retaining heat. This can drive up your energy bill and leave you with less money than you anticipated. On top of that, if cold air is getting in through cracks or holes in your home, you’re vulnerable to pests too. Animals will be drawn to the warmth of your home and will have an easier time of it getting inside if your home has vulnerabilities. Make sure you identify where the draft is coming from and take steps to stop it up before it wreaks havoc on your comfort and your wallet.

Pipe Damage

Freezing weather potentially means freezing pipes. That means that any existing pipe damage is bound to get worse in the winter as the water within freezes and expands. If you notice any of your pipes leaking, you need to get that taken care of quickly. Water leaks can get expensive, and quickly. They also put you at risk for significant water damage. Check for cracks in the pipes and inspect the seals inside for the same. Replace damaged areas as needed. If it’s a major plumbing job, hire a plumber who has the knowledge, training, and tools to handle the project.

Mold and Water Damage

Mold and water damage tend to go hand in hand. It doesn’t take long for mold to grow under the right conditions. Water damage tends to provide those ideal conditions. When it comes to mold, it’s best to take a preventive approach. Mold thrives in wet, dark conditions, especially in rooms like bathrooms and basement areas. Run the fan during and after showers and leave the bathroom door open when you can. If you experience flooding or water damage, dry the area as quickly as you can and remove any soaked or damaged materials. Getting rid of mold can be tough, so it’s far better to prevent it from taking hold in the first place.

Roof Damage

Your roof is a major player in protecting the rest of your home from winter’s elements. If it’s going to do the job properly, it needs to be in good repair. Keep an eye on your roof and periodically inspect it for damage. Your roof’s level of vulnerability to damage will depend in part on the material it’s made from. There are a few signs your roofing may need to be replaced. Being familiar with these signs will help you know what to look for to determine what, if anything, needs to be done. Of course, it can also be helpful to get professional help with this project. You shouldn’t handle roof repairs yourself unless you have the experience and knowledge to do so safely and correctly.

Cracks in the Foundation

On the flip side, your foundation also needs to be in good condition going into the winter. Like your plumbing, cracks in your foundation will only grow worse during the winter, potentially exposing you to significant water damage. Ideal conditions for foundation repairs are warm and dry, since there may be a necessary curing process as part of the repairs. Foundation repairs can take anywhere from one day to multiple weeks, depending on the extent of the damage. As such, it’s best to tackle foundation repair soon after noticing it’s needed to prevent it from becoming more extensive, requiring more time and money to fix.

Water Heater Problems

Having water heater problems isn’t something you want to be dealing with when it’s cold. What would be an inconvenience and annoyance during the summer can become a far more pressing issue during the freezing winter months. Pay attention to signs that would indicate your water heater is having problems. If you don’t get enough or any hot water, your water heater makes funny noises, or if the water smells odd, you have a problem that needs to be addressed. You can help prevent water heater problems by performing regular water heater maintenance. As an added bonus, this can help extend the life of your water heater, making it that much longer before you have to replace it.

HVAC Inefficiencies

Your heater failing is another problem you just don’t want to deal with during the winter. This is part of why it’s so important to have your HVAC system serviced and tuned up regularly. The person performing the tune up will inspect the different parts of your furnace. They’ll be able to tell what parts are damaged and which ones are likely to become a problem relatively soon. They can make repair recommendations based on their observations that can help you avoid experiencing heater failure during winter. This can help protect the life of your furnace and keep it running smoothly and efficiently all winter long.

Electrical Damage

House fires and the resulting deaths are more common in winter than any other season. Some of those fires start as a result of electrical damage. For your safety, keep an eye on the electrical wiring in your home. Rodents sometimes like to chew on cables, which can leave the wires exposed and increase the risk of damage. Make sure you aren’t overloading your outlets either. Doing so can trip your breaker and cause the conductor to overheat, further contributing to your fire risk.

Keeping an eye out for damage in your home helps you stay on top of maintenance projects before they worsen. Some projects are more difficult to do when it’s cold and wet, as it tends to be during the winter. If it’s been a while since you’ve inspected your house, take a closer look at it. Addressing problems now will help you stay safe and warm when the year’s at its coldest.

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