Angie's List: What's missing from your winter prep?
By early November, you’ve probably completed all the major home maintenance tasks to get ready for winter, such as changing your HVAC filters, weatherproofing your home, getting a furnace inspection, and so forth.
But in the midst of all this, you may be wondering what you’re missing. Sometimes the smallest details give you the biggest headaches. But you can head those off by attending to these simple tasks.
HANDLE THE EASILY MISSED HOME TASKS
Many tasks around the home build up over time — and you might not even think about them, even during a major household cleaning. Take some time to go through your house and hit all the smaller things you rarely think about.
Give your dishwasher and refrigerator a good cleaning. All that buildup inside the dishwasher can slow down its effectiveness, and you’ll appreciate a fresh refrigerator when holiday cooking gets going.
Take a look at all your appliances for cleaning needs. You probably keep your microwave and oven reasonably clean already, but they could likely use a good scrub. Toasters and toaster ovens build up crumbs, so take out the lower crumb trap and clean it out.
Check your clothes dryer lint trap and the outgoing hoses for lint buildup. Long-term lint can create a fire hazard. Consider hiring a professional to clear out your dryer vents.
Your garbage disposal builds up gunk that’s both smelly and damaging to the disposal itself. Clean it by running water and emptying ice cubes into the disposal, then let water run for a minute. Chop up a lemon and feed it down the disposal to get rid of unpleasant smells. Don’t use caustic drain cleaners on the disposal, which can corrode its innards. Also, don’t forget to clean the rubber splash gasket on the drain, which accumulates nasty buildup as well.
PRESERVE HOUSEHOLD SAFETY
The coming of winter, with larger crowds in your home, more electrical usage underway, and heaters operating, makes safety an even bigger priority. Take this opportunity for a regular safety review.
Test your smoke detectors, overhead fire sprinklers, carbon monoxide detectors, and any other major safety sensors in your home. You don’t want to lose precious minutes because you overlooked a AA battery replacement.
Check your fire extinguisher and make sure it’s up to date. If you don’t have one, get one; an extinguisher is a vital safety tool in any home. Make sure everyone in your family knows where it is and how to use it in an emergency.
Review your home evacuation plan with your family, including alternate routes out of the house and where to meet if you get separated.
If you don’t already have a home emergency kit full of FEMA-recommended gear, make sure you compile one. It should include first aid; safety and survival basics; and enough food, water and medication to sustain everyone in your household for three days. If you do have one already, check it and make sure everything’s in good order. You’ll be glad you did in the case that you need it.
Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.