Winter Home Maintenance Safety Tips

Protect your home and family from fire and other hazards. These simple and easy tasks will help provide for a safe home environment during the cold winter months.

Exterior Maintenance
  • Clean out gutters and downspouts, failure to maintain gutters and downspouts from leaves and debris can lead to ice dams forming at the roof edge.
  • Disconnect all garden hoses from exterior hose bibs to prevent water line freeze-up into the house.
  • Be sure to check all exterior electrical fixtures for bird nests, failure to remove nests from electrical fixtures may cause a fire.
  • Try to run all gas-powered lawn equipment until the fuel tank is empty, or remove fuel from tank. By doing this you are removing flammable liquid storage from your garage. Also, make sure you are not storing dirty, oily rags in a pile - they can ignite spontaneously.
  • Familiarize responsible family members with the location and operation of the main water supply valve for the home (usually at the water meter) and water supply valves at all plumbing fixtures. In case of a water pipe leak or break, or overflowing plumbing fixture, water can be turned off before flooding occurs.
Interior Maintenance
  • All chimneys and flues (i.e. fireplace, water heater, and furnace) need to be checked to insure that gases are properly vented. As part of a minimum annual fireplace cleaning, or annual furnace and water heater service cleaning / inspection, have the qualified technician check the flue piping to insure there are no blockages (bird or insect nests) and that the flue pipe or chimney is clean of any creosote build-up. Any filters should be replaced to insure proper appliance operation.
  • Always check all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors for proper operation. Utilize the test buttons on the detectors to check that they operate, replace the batteries annually and clean the dust from detectors. Detectors are to be installed per manufacturer's specifications and Village Code.
  • Test all ground-fault-circuit-interrupter (GFCI) receptacle outlets. These should be tripped and reset once a month using the colored test buttons on the face of the receptacle outlets. If they do not trip or reset, have the receptacle outlet changed by a qualified electrician. These types of receptacle outlets are required around wet areas like bathrooms, kitchens and the exterior of the home to provide for protection against shock or electrocution.
  • Make sure all electrical holiday decorations have tight connections. If possible use 3-prong plugs and cord sets, try to unplug decorations when not in use. To reduce the chances of overheating and fire, electric cords and extension cords should never be bundled together or placed under rugs or carpet.
  • Broken light bulbs need to be replaced.
  • Familiarize responsible family members with the location and operation of the main gas valve for the home and other appliance gas valves, in case of suspected gas leak or appliance failure.

General Cleanliness
  • Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct, damper and space under the dryer on a regular basis. Poor maintenance allows for lint to build up in the exhaust duct and may cause a fire.
  • Clean bathroom exhaust fan fixtures often. Poor maintenance allows dirt and dust to build up and (if a fan / light combination unit) may cause a fire.
  • Clean the kitchen exhaust hood and air filter, keeping hood and filters clean of cooking grease will help keep a stove top fire from spreading.
  • Check water hoses on the clothes washer, refrigerator ice maker and dishwasher for cracks and bubbles and replace hoses that show signs of leaking.