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Winter is for spending time with your family and friends around a warm fireplace. Between the travel plans, the guests staying over, and getting everything ready for the new year ahead, the holidays are the worst possible time to be dealing with breakdowns and problems in your home. With preventative maintenance before the holidays arrive, you can ensure that your home remains cozy, comfortable, and problem-free throughout the coldest months of the year. In this article, we’ll review what homeowners should focus on for a stress-free holiday season.

Have your heater professionally maintained

Your home relies on its furnace or heat pump to keep it warm and cozy throughout the winter. After all, the holidays just aren’t the same in a home that’s as cold as the night air outside. If you haven’t already had an HVAC professional take a look at your heater, we recommend you schedule this service. Preventative maintenance is the key to ensuring that your heating system continues to operate effectively throughout the winter months.

Another benefit of heating maintenance? A professional heating tune-up actually makes your furnace more efficient, which means you save on your winter heating costs. There’s nothing like having a little extra cash in your pocket heading into the holidays and the new year.

Protect your pipes

Below-freezing nighttime temperatures are a good reason to curl up by the fireplace, but they also represent a major threat to your home’s water pipes. Outdoor pipes and pipes running through exterior walls are at the greatest risk of freezing, and this often occurs when the heating stops working abruptly on a cold night. The good news is that homeowners can protect their homes from frozen pipes by adding insulated sheathing around pipes and joints. This is especially easy to do for outdoor pipes and exposed pipes in your attic or garage.

If you do wake up to frozen pipes, turn off the water supply and call a plumber immediately for emergency service. Frozen pipes are at risk of bursting open and flooding your home. A professional plumber has the tools and training needed to safely thaw the pipe without causing further damage and exacerbating the risk of a pipe burst.

Have your fireplace cleaned

Chimney cleaning is a crucial safety precaution ahead of the winter months when it’s likely to see the most use. During the spring and summer when the chimney is dormant, birds can build flammable nests in the chimney cap. Combined with the buildup of creosote—a carbon byproduct of smoke from burning wood—on the chimney walls, this can represent a major fire hazard for your home. A professional chimney cleaner will ensure that your fireplace is safe to use throughout the holiday season.

Clean your roof gutters and downspouts

For many, the holidays just wouldn’t be the same without that gentle snowfall outside their windows. However, as many homeowners know, snow and ice can cause problems for your home. In particular, clogged gutters and downspouts on your roof can lead to water pooling and freezing, which can cause damage and roof leaks in the spring when everything thaws out. Ahead of the next snow, double-check that your gutters and spouts are clear of any leaf debris left over from the fall. In particular, bird nests and leaves can clog gutters and keep the roof from clearing off the water.

If you suspect that your roof has been damaged by ice or water—especially if you have a roof leak—be sure to call a professional roofer and have them come out to your home to inspect the roof. Catching roof problems early can save your home from major repairs down the road.

Don’t wait for spring cleaning to care for your home

By taking care of essential maintenance items this winter, you can prevent major HVAC, plumbing, and roofing issues from popping up during the holidays. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. When in doubt, always call in a professional for service, repairs, and individualized advice regarding your home’s needed upkeep and maintenance.