Encircle’s 12 Days of Home Maintenance

Posted by Brooke Donald on Dec 21, 2018 4:51:25 PM

Winter is coming! And it's notorious for wrecking havoc on homes. To help get your home ready for the season, we're introducing our 12 Days of Home Maintenance! Each day we have a different tip to help prepare your home for the weather, so you can enjoy the holidays with friends and family.

12 Days Of Home Maintenance 

Day 1 - Install a Water Heater Blanket

Day 1 - Install a Water Heater Blanket

Difficulty: Easy

Cost: $53.54 from Home Depot

Did you know that freestanding hot water tanks and exposed water lines should be wrapped in an insulating blanket? Doing so could reduce standby heat losses by 25-45% and save you about 7–16% in water heating costs.

Note that you should not insulate:

  • Pre-insulated water heaters
  • Water heaters located where the added heat is welcome
  • Water heaters whose manual or paperwork warns against insulating
  • Tankless (on-demand) water heaters

Day 2 - Seal Drafts

Day 2 - Seal Drafts

Difficulty: Medium

Cost: $2.47 - $25.77 from
Home Depot

 

Sealing drafts around doors, windows, and even electrical outlets can save you money on energy and utility costs. Most homes in North America have significant air leaks. Caulk and spray foam are designed to help seal stationery items like windows. Use caulk on holes 1/2 inch or less and spray foam on holes 1/2 inch to 3 inches. Note that weatherstripping is meant for objects that move such as doors.

Fact: If you add up all the leaks, holes and gaps in a typical home, it would be the equivalent of having a window open every day of the year!

Day 3 - Protect Your Pipes from Bursting

Day 3 - Protect Your Pipes from Bursting

Difficulty: Easy

Cost: Free

A burst pipe can cause indoor flooding and cost thousands in clean up and damaged property. One of the most frequent but easily avoided causes of a pipe bursting is a frozen hose bibb.

To prevent your hose bibb from freezing:

  1. Shut the hose off
  2. Disconnect the hose
  3. Allow water to drain from the hose bibb
  4. Turn the faucet to the “on” position and allow any water left in the pipe to drain out
  5. Leave the hose bibb faucet in the “on” position in case any water ends up back in the pipe

Fact: A burst ½ inch pipe can fill a swimming pool every 24 hours!

Day 4 - Use Energy-Efficient Lighting

Day 4 - Use Energy-Efficient Lighting

Difficulty: Easy

Cost: $2 - $15 per bulb

Updating your lighting could save you about $30-60 per bulb in energy costs. While there are many options, the most popular light bulbs are halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Energy-efficient lighting saves electricity and lowers greenhouse emissions. LED light bulbs use only 2-17 watts of electricity, which is approximately 1/3rd to 1/30th of the energy used by incandescent bulbs or CFL.

Tip: Look for ENERGY STAR qualified fixtures!

Day 5 - Maintain Your Furnace

Day 5 - Maintain Your Furnace

Difficulty: Easy

Cost: $80 - $150

Checking your furnace regularly helps prevent expensive breakdowns, extends the furnace’s life, and helps it run more efficiently. Be sure to examine your furnace on a regular basis and change your furnace filter every month in the winter or every 3 months otherwise. A dirty filter can increase heating bills and decrease the furnace's efficiency!

Tip: Hold the filter up to the light. If you can’t see light through it, you need a new one.

Day 6 - Make Your Thermostat More Efficient

Day 6 - Make Your Thermostat More Efficient

Difficulty: Medium

Cost: $0 - $498 at Home Depot

Constantly fiddling with your thermostat? Save fuel by leaving it alone once it’s set! Alternatively, install a programmable thermostat to save fuel by automatically keeping temperatures consistent.

How to replace a thermostat:

  1. Turn off power to the air conditioning or furnace
  2. Remove the face of old thermostat and disconnect the wires. Take a photo of the wiring configuration beforehand!
  3. Remove the old mount
  4. Screw in new thermostat mount and connect the wires
  5. Screw faceplate mount to the wall
  6. Attach new thermostat face
  7. Turn power to the unit back on and configure the new thermostat
Fact: A programmable thermostat can save up to $180 a year on fuel costs!

Day 7 - Clean Your Gutters

Day 7 - Clean Your Gutters

Difficulty: Easy - Medium

Cost: $0 for DIY

Gutters control the flow of rainwater to protect your roof, walls, and foundation. A clogged gutter can cause water damage to the interior and exterior of your home. Gutters clogged with debris also make a good home for pests. 

How to clean your gutters:

  1. Remove debris with a trowel
  2. Flush the gutter with a hose starting at the end opposite the downspout

Day 8 - Clean Your Air Conditioner

Day 8 - Clean Your Air Conditioner

Difficulty: Easy

Cost: $5 - $9 from Home Depot

Every year your air conditioner gets covered in leaves, dust, and dirt - and it’s costing you money. Dirt and debris can block the coils from releasing heat, making your AC run longer to cool your home.

Follow these steps to clean your outdoor AC Unit:

  1. Open the electrical disconnect (a metal box near your outside unit) and find the switch that turns off the air conditioner. Turn the switch to the “off” position
  2. Use a hose to clean off loose debris (grass, leaves, etc) on the outside unit
  3. Spray the outside unit with the coil cleaner
  4. Wait 10-15 minutes as the cleaner foams and bonds with the dirt on the coils
  5. Rinse the coil cleaner off with the hose

Day 9 - Check Your Window Coverings

Day 9 - Check Your Window Coverings

Difficulty: Medium

Cost: Low

Did you know that your window coverings could impact how well you're able to heat and cool your home? We suggest checking both your inside and outside window coverings. Using heavy curtains or an outdoor sun-shade could help reduce costs by protecting your windows from the elements.   

Tip: Draw window coverings at night or when you’re away to conserve heat in the home. In hot weather, draw window coverings in the morning to keep the house cool, saving money on air conditioning.

Day 10 - Test Alarms, Detectors, and Extinguishers

Day 10 - Test Alarms, Detectors, and Extinguishers

Difficulty: Easy

Cost: Annual inspection: $12
6-year maintenance: $9.11

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month and batteries should be replaced at least once or twice a year. To test your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector, press and hold the test button. A loud siren should sound while the button is pressed. If the sound is weak or nonexistent, replace your batteries.

Tip: Change your batteries when you change your clocks for daylight saving time!

In addition, maintenance inspections should be performed on your extinguisher once a year while internal maintenance inspections should be conducted every five, six, or 12 years. Moreover, conduct visual fire extinguisher inspections every month.

Here’s what to look for in a visual inspection:

  • Look for obvious signs of physical damage, such as corrosion, leakage, or dents
  • Check the pressure gauge to make sure the indicator is in the operating range.
  • Make sure the pull-pin is not missing and the pull-pin seal is intact
  • Verify the date of the last professional inspection
  • Date and initial the back of the tag to log the monthly visual inspection

Day 11 - Clean Your Chimney

Day 11 - Clean Your Chimney

Difficulty: Difficult - call a certified chimney sweep

Cost: $125 - $250

It takes only a small accumulation of creosote glazing to start a chimney fire. Creosote is a highly flammable substance that builds up inside your chimney as a result of burning wood. The Chimney Safety Institute of America says that fireplaces should be cleaned when 1/8″ of sooty buildup is inside the chimney. If any glaze is appearing in the flue, cleaning should be done even if there is less than 1/8″ of build up.

Fact: Chimney inspections should be scheduled once a year!

Day 12 - Inspect HVAC System and Replace Filters

Day 12 - Inspect HVAC System and Replace Filters

Difficulty: Easy

Cost: $18.97 - $31.95 at Home Depot

Your HVAC or furnace technician should service your unit once a year. Moreover, your HVAC filter should be changed at least once every three months. You should also replace the filter if it is damaged, damp, or has mold.

To replace your HVAC filter: 

  1. Turn off the unit
  2. Follow the directions for your unit to make sure you’re installing the filter properly
  3. Make sure there aren’t any gaps around the filter frame
  4. Securely replace any levers, gaskets and/or seals
  5. Turn the unit on and observe it while it’s operating to make sure the filter stays in place
  6. Note the date of filter replacement in a convenient location for the next time you inspect it

DID YOU KNOW?  

Now that you have completed our 12 Days of Home Maintenance, it's time to create a home inventory. Insurance industry experts estimate that the average policyholder could collect at least 25-50% more money if they have proper documentation of their property than those without documentation! The more documentation you have, the better your insurance company will be able to handle your claim. Use Encircle's free home inventory app to quickly and accurately document your possessions. 

Download Encircle onto your Android or Apple mobile device:

Get Encircle on the Google Play Store      Get Encircle on the Apple App Store

Topics: How To, Home Owner, Home Inventory

About the Author: Brooke Donald

Brooke Donald

Brooke is the Marketing Coordinator at Encircle. She loves traveling, coffee, and her dogs.