25 Timely Tips for a New Year
Use this home-maintenance calendar to keep your house running like clockwork.
- Test your home for radon. A radioactive gas that causes lung cancer, radon can build up when windows and doors are sealed tight. So January, the coldest month, is an optimal time for an annual test, says Elias Rodriguez, an EPA spokes-man. Visit epa.gov/radon.
- Make sure your attic insulation is doing the trick. If snow melts off the roof soon after it falls, or if icicles form even when temperatures remain consistent, too much heat may be escaping from your home. If so, call a contractor.
- Check your sump pump. Do this now, before the first spring thaws of March, when melting snow and rain showers can cause basement flooding. To test, pour two gallons of water into the drain to raise the float and activate the motor. It should stop running once the water level drops below the activation level.
- See if your gas meter is iced over. On average, February is one of the snowiest months of the year. According to Managemyhome.com, accumulated ice on the meter can cause it to malfunction and create a gas leak. If the meter is iced over, contact your gas utility. (Chipping off the ice yourself can damage the unit.)
- Put new batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Do this when you turn your clocks ahead for daylight saving time.
- Make sure your fire extinguisher is properly pressurized. Check the gauge; the needle should be in the green section.
- Paint the house. “Latex paint performs best when the temperature at the time of application is 50 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Mark Schulte, director of membership and education for the Paint & Decorating Retailers Association, in St. Peters, Missouri. Under direct sunlight and scorching summer heat, “paint may lose adhesion, bubble, and peel.”
- Examine outdoor play equipment. Pieces made of wood, in particular, can get damaged during the winter. Cut or sand any splinters, and look for rotting at the base, which could weaken the structure.