Your home is like your car - it needs regular maintenance and one-on-one care. When the cold air hits, a car typically requires a different type of oil, possibly a tune up and certainly some de-icer windshield wiper fluid. Your home is no different. It needs things shut off, things turned on and things put away.
While all the following tips may not fit the needs of your home or cooperative exactly, many of them are great reminders of what to do as the weather shifts into winter mode regardless of where you live.
Put Away Outdoor Items
The winter, with its freezing temperatures and endless supply of salted sidewalks, is brutal to lawn ornaments, toys and tools. As the cooler weather approaches, make sure to store your garden tools to prevent them from rusting. Put away any lawn decorations like pots, bird feeders and garden gnomes. Bring your bikes and toys to the safety of your basement. Clean, let dry and store your lawn mower, trimmers and leaf blowers (if you even have any considering Ash Street Cooperative provides full-service lawn care as a Member benefit).
Leaving these items outside throughout the winter can drastically reduce their expected life span and cause premature damage. Ice, pressure and severe temperature changes can all cause items to expand and contract, leaving cracks in materials that can lead to full on breakage! Prevent this by simply putting away all outdoor items before the first snow fall.
Removing garden hoses is important to ensure there is no trapped water in the outdoor water spigots. By disconnecting the hose from the faucet, you allow any excess water to drain out, hopefully preventing the possibility of busted pipes during a deep, midwestern freeze. In addition, it prolongs the life of the hose.
Depending on your co-op or home, you may also need to physically shut off the water to the outdoor spigots using a handle in the basement. Check if you home has one faucet shut off for each outdoor faucet you have. If you have any questions about this, and you're an Ash Street Co-op member, please call the office for details.
Trim Back Plants and Remove Annuals
Perennials (plants that return year after year) need a haircut around late fall to ensure that next year brings new growth and fresh leaves. Annuals (plants that live only one year) need to be completely removed from the root on up. This is to remove dead debris, making it easier to tend to come spring and giving the ground space to expand.
Replace Furnace Filter and Check Smoke Detectors
Furnace filters should be replaced, ideally every month, unless you get a filter specifically designed for a longer time frame. Since you are likely getting ready to turn on the furnace, you might want to consider grabbing a fresh filter (old dust won't smell good on that first firing of the heat anyways).
It's recommended to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every 6 months (some say more often). While you are "shutting it down for winter" get into the habit of also checking your detectors. If they signal a battery needs replacing, do it that same day so you don't forget. The change of the season can be a great reminder to change your furnace filters and check detector batteries...if only you choose to do it!
Clean Out Lint Traps
Again, a great natural reminder to check these household maintenance items is the changing of the seasons. As you check one thing (like your filter), check all the rest. If your lint trap hasn't been cleaned out in a while, consider getting it done. Now-a-days there are a handful of options on how you can do this. One is to purchase the kit from your local hardware store, another is to hire someone to do it for you, and this, my favorite, ask a nephew or cousin to come help! However you do it, do it as winter approaches.
That's it! There are more tips, of course, but these ought to get you started on the right track! Take the time to prep your home now to help maintain it for years to come. When you're ready to move into a spacious, 2 or 3 bedroom housing cooperative in Park Forest, Illinois, give Ash Street Housing Cooperative a call at 708-747-9600.