Thanksgiving has come and gone, the days are getting shorter, and “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is playing in every store. You know what that means: winter is officially here. And with it are new items on your home’s to-do list — especially for those living in colder or wetter regions. Fortunately, we’re here to make sure your winter checklist doesn’t miss any key tasks.
Perhaps the Thanksgiving craze already put you through a cleaning and decluttering spree. If so, now that you got that out of the way, it’s time to start prepping your apartment to reach its full crisp and cozy potential. So, turn on the heater, put on your coziest socks, and read on to find out how to make sure your home is fully prepared to welcome winter with open arms.
The month leading up to the winter holidays is the perfect time to double-check the overall state of your home. Start by taking the rooms one by one and paying attention to the apartment’s structure from floor to ceiling. Specifically, check for overlooked moisture patches, drafty areas, unnoticed cracks or rips.
Then, make a list of preventative maintenance steps your landlord or property management could help with in the future. While they may not be urgent now, certain items on your checklist might develop into more serious issues down the line. For example, ensure that your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors are scheduled for a routine check-up and that your vents and filters are also cleaned regularly.
Check the Heating System
If you live in a colder region, this one is already second nature to you. As the weather turns from chilly to frosty, it’s essential to make sure the heating system runs smoothly. This might mean adjusting your thermostat for the increasingly cold outside temperature, noticing any weird smells once the heat is on, or if the vents need vacuuming.
Certain communities put out notices to remind their residents to test the heating system in their apartments. Depending on your rental amenities, you can also contact your property manager to find out more about regular inspections of your HVAC, chimney or fireplace.
See if Piping Needs Attention
A little preventative maintenance can go a long way. One of the most common and avoidable piping problems during winter is freezing pipes, which create water issues and can cause pipes to bursts when they thaw. So, inquire with your property manager whether official piping inspections are to be expected during the winter months.
While pipework on property grounds is typically the responsibility of the landlord or property management, renters can definitely do their part by inspecting the pipes and faucets around the apartment. In particular, listen for banging or gurgling-like sounds coming from the piping around the apartment. Additionally, if you have any outside faucets, cover them with foam or towels and wrap exposed pipes to prevent freezing.
Nothing is more annoying than unexpected drafts when it’s cold outside. So, whether you live in a studio or a 3-bedroom apartment, walk around and carefully check for drafts — particularly near windows, doors, and in areas where you know the walls are thinner or likely to develop humidity or cracks.
Note that windows are most prone to drafts. Depending on how serious it is, decide whether property management should get involved. If you can take matters into your own hands, weatherstripping is most likely to be landlord-approved, while caulking is the cheapest way to go — provided you have steady hands. This way, as snowflakes gather at your window, you can actually enjoy watching the winter wonderland outside — without puffs of chilly air in your face.
Care for Your Community
Keeping an eye out for maintenance issues during winter extends beyond the walls of your apartment. In fact, your entire community should be prepared for the cold weather. Here’s how you can do your part.
Generally, exterior maintenance in an apartment community includes the following:
- Cleaning up snow and leaf mulch
- Trimming branches
- Cleaning gutters
- Protecting outdoor pools and amenities
- Grounds maintenance
While property managers can call upon experts to check shingles for degradation, trim trees, or get the necessary equipment for protecting outdoor facilities, certain chores can be done by residents — usually on a voluntary basis. For example, you can lend a hand by clearing snow, leftover leaves and debris from pathways. Likewise, pay attention to icy spots and areas prone to freezing — which can cause injuries — and alert your property management to them.
Update Your Wardrobe
While not maintenance-related, this is one of the first things that the colder temps force us to do every year: break out the winter clothing.
First, take note of the items you have in your wardrobe, their functionality and their practicality during winter. For instance, living in colder temperatures has already taught us that one can’t have too many warm socks, thick scarves or reliable hats. Sweaters, cardigans and hoodies are also a must, alongside at least one sturdy winter coat. Oh, and don’t let the harsh temperatures catch you without that pair of gloves that you’ve postponed buying since March.
While you’re at it, air out the linen closet, as well, and put the warmest bedding and blankets next in line for use.
This holiday season, ease your mind of what could go wrong by following these simple tips. Taking some time to really look at your apartment can make all the difference. After all, nothing can ruin a cozy night in like the heater breaking unexpectedly or a pipe bursting under your kitchen sink.