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Fall / Winter Maintenance Check List: Helpful Tips to Keep your Home and Family Safe Through the Winter

Every year I have a Fall/Winter Checklist I like to go through, to try to attend to the regular maintenance needs around my home and office. I like checklists because I really HATE spending money on things that could have been avoided. And, the older I get, the more I seem to need lists that help me cover the “important things” that must be done; regardless of the “urgent things” that seem to always scream for attention and try to push back the important, time and time again. And yes, as many of you may know, I just like checklists…

Fall / Winter Maintenance Check List

Locate and operate/test all Main Water shut offs. Label as appropriate for occupants/tenants. (We’ll locate & label your water & gas shutoffs for free with our ID for Free program. Just ask us.)

Inspect Water Heater for signs of any drips or leaks. Operate/test HWT shut-off.

Review Service Record label on water heater, and schedule Annual Maintenance as needed.

If Expansion Tank exists, make sure it’s not ‘water-logged’, and its air pressure is ‘tuned’ to the incoming water pressure, (if an Annual HWT Maintenance is due, a good one will include this).

“Actually” measure the hot water temperature with a thermometer at the nearest tap, to ensure target temp is correct.

Run hot and cold water separately at each faucet, make sure of full-flow and no drips after shutting off.

Watch each drain as you run water, look for any signs of partial-clog-slow-drain or back-ups. Remember the holidays are coming, with the potential of heavier than usual use …make sure everything flows/drains good!

Check each toilet; that it flushes fully and shuts off fully afterward, with no signs of clogging.

Clean and carefully examine all caulking on sinks, counters, tubs, showers, around fixture flanges and around the base of all toilets (sides and front only, don’t seal at back). Remove and re-caulk anything that won’t clean or seems loose or un-sound.

Clean the grill-cover on the bathroom fan. Check air flow to ensure it is moving air. If no gauge is available, check it with a 10” long piece of toilet paper and see if the ‘suction’ will hold onto the T.P.

Inspect furnace, air-handler, or boiler for any signs of problems/leaks and listen to operation for strange or unusual sounds.

Review Service Record Sticker, change filter and schedule semi-annual maintenance as needed, including cleaning all ductwork, schedule cleaning if due.

Check that the thermostat programing is current and correct.

‘Call for Heat’ on the stat and let system run for 15-minutes to ensure proper operations (before it gets really cold and is really needed!)

Check woodstoves and fireplaces for proper draft and operation. Check seals and glass on woodstove doors. Schedule cleaning or repairs if needed/due.

Change direction in ceiling fans, so warm air at ceilings isn’t wasted.

Clean/Vacuum under and around refrigerator and freezer, making sure dust, pet-hair etc. is thoroughly cleaned from exterior refrigeration coils. Clean any drip-pans that exist. Change ice-maker filter if it’s time.

Change all batteries in Smoke-Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors. Test each unit to sound with ‘test-button’ after installing new batteries.

Check all weather-stripping on all window and doors. Repair or replace as needed…heating and cooling expenses represent up to 49% of home energy use, so good maintenance can result in big savings.

Check all windows for moisture or evidence of moisture. Windows that ‘sweat’ are a sure sign of a problem like poor ventilation, water leaks in walls/crawlspaces etc. Excess moisture = Mold; especially in the Pacific Northwest.


Walk around next to structure slowly checking for any obvious items that need attention, including…

Remove all garden hoses and store appropriately. If the hose faucets (hose-bibs) are not ‘freeze-proof’, then cover with domed Styrofoam hose bib cover.

Check for water-pipes in any ‘freeze-zone’, like an un-heated garage or outside wall. Heat-tape and insulate if needed. If you can see a water-pipe thru a foundation vent-screen, the cold winter winds can freeze it for sure. Have the pipe moved, or heat-tape and insulate.

Check foundation for cracks, and check caulking anywhere it meets masonry. Repair if needed.

Check caulking on edges of doors and windows and vents, make sure it’s sound. Repair if needed.

Watch for peeling paint, and repair/touch-up as needed

Check weather-strip on garage doors; repair as needed.

Check gutters that they are clean, and that they are connected tightly still and not leaking.

Step back from structure 15-ft to 30-ft, and circle structure again…

Turn on all outside lights and watch for burned-out bulbs as you do your walk-around.

Check for any debris on the roof, for loose shingles or any signs of damage around any chimney flashings. A good pair of binoculars help a lot and potentially help spot small problems without going up on the roof. Make repairs if/as needed.

Check all sidewalks, patios, outside steps and driveways for cracks. Fill and repair as needed to keep water out and resulting freeze/thaw/settling damage. Take a close look at any asphalt driveway surfaces to evaluate condition of sealer; schedule re-sealing as soon as practical if needed.

Winterize sprinkler system.

Winterize pool equipment and install and check pool-cover.

Check porch railings for soundness. Cover or store porch/patio furniture and barbecue.

Check all outside potted flowers and shrubs. Winterize as/if needed.

So, there’s my list. If you have time to do this work yourself, you’ll save a bundle, not only on the cost of hiring someone to do it for you, but also the cost of some future and needless repairs. Feel free to copy this and use it for yourself and/or your company. And, if you’d like it digitally so you can tweak it and customize it for your own organization, just email me and I’ll send it right away.

Enjoy this fall and a have wonderful winter!

Bruce Davis, Sr.
Licensed Journeyman Plumber, Licensed Electrician, HVAC/R Electrical Administrator, HVAC/R Certified WA State C.E.U. Instructor

Bruce Sr is President of Day and Nite Plumbing and Heating, a 69- year old family owned and operated plumbing and heating business in Lynnwood, Washington. Bruce can be contacted at: Bruce@dayandnite.net

Day and Nite Plumbing and Heating Inc.
16614 13th Ave. W.
Lynnwood, WA 98037 800-972-7000

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