What are the must-do winter maintenance items that I should not forget to do?
First, have your heater serviced and air filter replaced. Second, close shutoff valves and bleed water from outside faucets and lines to prevent them from freezing and bursting. Third, and most importantly, clean leaves and other debris out of your gutters. This is one of the most overlooked home maintenance items. If your gutters are clogged and full of water when freezing weather arrives, you will be risking many thousands of dollars of damage to your home. Ice dams in your gutters will begin to edge up under your roof. When past the sub-roof ice shield, the ice could melt from the heat in your home and potentially damage your ceilings and walls. What's more, your floors could be ruined and mold could grow in your walls.
If I have a limited budget, where should I spend money on home insulation?
You should start in the attic because heat rises and will escape through the attic as fast it enters the downstairs rooms. Try a cellulose blown-in insulation for those of you with no attic floor and open ceiling joists with very little insulation between them. Also, you can use rolled fiberglass insulation. Just cut it to fit and lay it on top of the existing insulation. Other areas that should warrant your attention are extremely drafty windows and doors. Install storm doors or door seals around the entry doors, caulk windows and check seals. Install replacement windows starting with the most drafty.
Submit your home improvement or maintenance question to Jay at jtmgeneralcontracting.com and check back soon.