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Four Winter House Maintenance Must Do’s

The topic of preventive maintenance seems particularly timely, given last week’s record-breaking polar vortex and a few disasters that I heard in Greenwich, as the temperatures slipped into single digits.  Last month, the National Association of Realtors pointed out a batch of home maintenance areas that need attention—and four of them, if neglected, could cause major headaches:

  • Water heater spill. Water heaters can suddenly cease to function—or even flood an area if corrosion is rampant. The preventive measure many homeowners aren’t even aware of is to “flush” it. Just turn off the power or gas to the heater, open a hot water tap elsewhere for a few minutes to lower the temperature in the heater, then put a bucket under the water heaters drain valve and drain until no sandy stuff is in it. Be careful—the water might still be hot.
  • Test for leaks. Since even slow leaks can cause major damage behind walls, it’s worthwhile to be sure none are going on. Read your water meter, don’t use any water for four hours, then take another reading. If the readout has changed, you’ve got a leak.
  • Wash the clothes dryer’s lint screen. Additives from fabric softener and dryer sheets can gum it up. To remove any grease and oil, simply soak the screen in hot water and dishwashing detergent. You’ll save on your energy bill—and might even prevent dangerous overheating.
  • Refrigerator mold. The drip pan below your refrigerator can breed disgusting mold if it’s left unchecked. Remove the kick panel, trace the defrost drain line that runs down to it, and be sure it’s not clogged (if it is, you may be able to clear it with a wire coat hanger). Be gentle when you pull out the drip pan as it may be full.

These may not be glamorous tasks, but left undone, what can ensue would hardly be worth the time it takes to accomplish them.

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