15 Home Improvements that Can’t Wait Until Spring – Jamie Birdwell-Branson
It may be easier to take on home maintenance projects when the weather is sunny and warm, but you can still get plenty of things done during the winter when you’re stuck inside. Make good use of the colder months by tackling these must-do chores!
Certain home improvement projects are best suited for spring and summer, for instance, painting the exterior or power-washing the driveway. But you can—and should—take care of important maintenance tasks, even in the coldest weather. Don’t know where to begin? Start with one of these 15 home maintenance projects that shouldn’t wait until spring.
1. Clean Out the Dryer Vent
Sure, you diligently clean out the lint trap every time you empty the dryer, but when was the last time you cleaned out the entire dryer vent? This easy task will not only improve the efficiency of your dryer, but it can also help prevent fires.
2. Get Scratches out of Hardwood Floors
During the winter, you and your family spend more time indoors. With the increased traffic and the wear and tear from boots, snow, and mud, the floors take a beating, and scratches are inevitable. Take care of minor scratches by rubbing a DIY solution of equal parts apple cider vinegar and olive oil into the problem planks.
3. Replace Attic Insulation
If your home is unbearably chilly during the winter, your attic insulation (or lack thereof) may be to blame. Attic insulation is intended to trap the heat that rises toward the roof, but if it’s damaged, old, or merely insufficient, then you need to replace or add some insulation to warm things back up.
4. Fix a Leaky Faucet
A dripping faucet is not only annoying, it’s also a major waste of water. An average household’s leaks can waste up to 10,000 gallons of water per year. Stop drips in their tracks by checking your faucets and replacing gaskets or other faulty parts, or buying an entire replacement kit.
5. Clean Out Your Chimney
There’s nothing like cozying up to the fire during the coldest months of the year, but before you turn on the gas or buy a rack of wood, you should clean out your chimney to prevent creosote fires. While many homeowners have this job done professionally, you can DIY the task if you have the know-how and the right tools.
6. Insulate Your Pipes
Insulated pipes aren’t just for colder climes. Even those who live in milder regions can benefit from the energy savings that properly insulated pipes can provide. Installation couldn’t be easier: Just grab a few pre-slit pipe sleeves, slip them over any exposed pipes, and secure with tape or a cable tie.
7. Upgrade Your Toilet
Replacing the toilet can upgrade the look of your bathroom, improve water efficiency in your home, and provide a little extra comfort (newer toilets come in heights of around 17 to 19 inches as well as the standard 15 inches). You can install a new toilet in an afternoon, and it’s a perfect job for even a nascent DIYer.
8. Fix Drafty Windows
Drafty windows can make certain spots in the house unbearably cold in the winter, and they put a strain on the heating system. Fortunately, fixing a drafty window couldn’t be simpler: Apply window caulking around joints in the window trim, or install weatherstripping to create a tight seal that blocks out drafts.
9. Regrout Bathroom Tile
If old, mildewed grout is making your bathroom look and feel dirtier than it actually is, give the room a much-needed refresh by regrouting. Start by removing the old grout with a grout saw, then vacuum up any debris and apply new grout using a grout float. The project should take no more than a day, although you’ll need to allow two or more days for the grout to cure before you can use the bathroom again.
10. Change Air Filter
Your HVAC system works hard all winter to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. To keep it working efficiently and to improve your overall indoor air quality, remember to change out the air filter every 30 to 90 days.
11. Clean Air Ducts
The air ducts in your home can hold a lot of dust, debris, and other potential allergens—which is not ideal, particularly in the winter, when you’re spending most of your time indoors. If your system has any visible mold growth, or if you and your family seem to be having a harder time with allergies this year, it’s a good idea to hire a professional to clean out the air ducts. The service includes a deep cleaning of all the heating and cooling system parts.
12. Maintain the Carpets
During the coldest part of the winter, your carpets may experience less traffic, but they’re more likely to be subject to drippy jackets, muddy boots, and tracked-in mud. Protect your carpets from further damage by giving them a thorough cleaning. Whether you hire a pro to do the job or rent a carpet cleaner and do it yourself, a good cleaning will take care of seasonal grime and clear away built-up allergens. Even better, in the warmth of your heated house, the carpets will probably dry faster than they would at more temperate times of the year, making them less prone to mold or mildew growth.
13. Garage Door Maintenance
The garage sees a lot of use in the winter, storing outdoor chairs and other seasonal items, keeping the car safe from the onslaught of snow, and holding sleds and other winter equipment at the ready. Show the garage door a little love by attending to any squeaky springs or loose bolts to keep it in good working order. Routine garage door maintenance tasks include lubricating the chain, tightening up any nuts and bolts, and performing safety tests.
14. Paint a Few Rooms
Painting the outside of your house is a no-go in the winter for most of us, but indoor painting projects are just perfect for the colder months. A fresh coat of paint or an energizing new color makes a room feel clean and renewed, and may even increase your home’s value!
15. Add a Ceiling Fan
Did you know that running a ceiling fan clockwise in the winter can actually make a room warmer? When they turn clockwise, the blades pull cool air up and push warm air back down toward the floor. If you don’t have a ceiling fan, the winter is a fine time to install one, and then run it on low throughout the winter to keep your house a little cozier.