Appliances That Need Care Before Winter Hits
By Steven De Nazareth
“Winter is coming” – Remember this famous dialog by the Starks from Game of Thrones? Well, it is true now. Winter is indeed approaching and that means homeowners have to prepare themselves for the chilly festive season.
While the idea of another Christmas is awesome, the idea of sub-zero temperatures and malfunctioning appliances is not. Fret not! There are some things that you can do to ensure that the chances of your appliances crashing are kept to a minimum. This article will provide you with a list of appliances that needs to be checked before winter sets in and also how to ensure that they don’t breakdown. Wondering why you need to check your appliances in advance? Well, like they say, a stitch in time, saves nine!
So here are some of the appliances that need a thorough check up before the temperature drops-
- HVAC unit
- Smoke detectors/ alarms
- Fireplace (if you have one)
Let’s take a detailed look at how these appliances should be checked. Don’t worry, the steps are quite simple and only require a very basic examination on the appliances listed above.
This one is absolutely essential. If there is no heating in your home, you’ll probably get sick. Or worse, freeze. HVAC units are large appliances and they may require annual maintenance checks. If you have signed up for a warranty plan or similar arrangement that conducts frequent checks on your HVAC, now would be an ideal time. If you don’t have such an arrangement, worry not. Here’s what you need to do.
- Examine the entire unit visually. Find out what you must look for in an HVAC unit.
- Check the filter. If it appears old and worn out, replace it.
- Check the thermostat. If you use a mercury thermostat, now would be a good time to shift to a digital one. They are said to be more accurate.
- Examine the heating ducts. They may need cleaning to remove any dirt or debris accumulated in them.
- Finally, keep the area around the unit clear and free of inflammable materials.
While you’re at it, you may want to read about common mistakes HVAC owners make.
Personal safety is always a primary concern. With all the heating devices going in full swing, having a fire, although uncommon, is still possible. Check your smoke detectors to ensure that they are in working order. If they fail, you could risk the lives of everyone in your home.
Here is what you need to do to check your smoke detector –
- Let the others in the house know that you are going to test the detector. You don’t want everyone panicking when the alarm goes off.
- Press and hold the test button on your smoke detector. This should trigger the alarm. If it doesn’t. The device could be faulty.
- If you want to test it in a more real scenario, try spraying some smoke detector aerosol on the detector.
- If the alarm is triggered, suck out the test material using a small hand held vacuum cleaner. This should silence the alarm.
These are appliances that can get really hot if their vents are blocked, making them prime fire hazard material. Leaving them to function unattended during the cold winter season may not be a bright idea. Make sure somebody checks on them at frequent intervals.
The following steps can help you run a basic exam on your dryer-
- Take a look at the vent behind the dryer. It should not be blocked or damaged.
- Clean the lint filter. Ideally, this should be done after every few wash cycles.
- Make sure the area around the dryer is not blocked by objects that could easily catch fire.
- Finally, if you are going to be away for a long time, unplug the dryer.
While it is lovely to have a fireplace, there are somethings that you just cannot overlook while using them. To ensure that your fireplace is safe for use, do the following –
- Make sure that the damper opens and closes without hiccups.
- Arrange a professional sweep to clear out any soot or particulate material that would have accumulated in the chimney.
- Inspect the mortar around the bricks in the fireplace and chimney. There should not be any cracks or breaks in the bricks.
If you have a gas fireplace, look out for peeling wallpaper and eroding mortar. Ideally, get it inspected by a professional.
General Winterizing Advice
First time homeowners may need to do extensive research about making your home safe for winter. Apart from the appliance maintenance checklist we provided above, there are some general safety and wellness practices that you must follow. This would include things like keeping an emergency contact list ready, stocking up on food, check your car to see if it’s winter-safe and finally formulating a fire escape plan.
Also, do keep in mind that outdoor hose bibs may freeze in the winter and to prevent that, they should be shut off at the source or covered on the outside with an insulator. It should not be difficult to find an insulator as they are available at most home goods stores.
If you don’t have a home warranty, now would be a good time to think about one. Such appliance service contracts help you save money on repairs due to unexpected appliance breakdowns. You could also look into our general appliance maintenance checklist to ensure that your home runs smoothly always.
We hope you found this article useful. Let us know your thoughts. Cheers!
Did you find this article helpful? YES | NO
Thank you for your feedback!