‘Tis the Season to Winterize Your Home!
Between holiday shopping and decorating, preparing your home for winter may be at the bottom of the to do list, or has been forgotten. But with our guide, you’re guaranteed to stay warm throughout the throes of winter and in no time, you’ll be snuggled up by the fire watching your favorite holiday film.
Let’s start with the inside. Priority number one is your heating and air conditioning system. Inspect your filters, and ensure your heat is working before the temperature drops. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors should be treated with equal importance. Winter poses a huge threat for fires and exposure to carbon monoxide than any other time of year as fires are burning and windows are (hopefully) sealed tight, so consider installing carbon monoxide detectors if not already present.
After the above is reviewed, insulate your windows to prevent the cold weather chill from entering your home. According to the U.S. Energy Department, you can lower your home’s energy cost up to 20% per year simply by reducing drafts. Five cheap ways to do this include v-seal weather strips, rope caulk, shrink film, nail polish and draft snake. Outlets and light switches can also be drafty, with a can of spray foam insulation this can be fixed.
Fireplaces may require an indoor and outdoor inspection, so budget your time accordingly.
For gas fireplaces, inspect the glass doors for cracks and turn the gas off and test the igniter- upon ignition look for clogged burner holes. A wood burner fireplace however, requires more maintenance. While not an exhaustive list, for a wood burner fireplace outside check, look for debris buildup on the cap and or if the chimney is leaning. On the inside, check that there are no combustible materials in the flue and no cracked bricks or missing mortar.
Tending and trimming the tree branches should be the first order of business for outside. Too long of branches can break off and potentially cause structural damage or drip excess water into cracks of your home's roof and or siding. Animals like squirrels and birds can also use tree branches to enter your attic.
Once trees are trimmed, clean the gutters. Clogged gutters could lead to a multitude of problems such as ice dams, foundation and exterior deterioration and water infiltration. Gutters should not be sagging or trapping water, so be sure to tighten hangers and replace damaged materials. Additionally, confirm your downspouts are facing 3-4 feet away from your home so that low points where your foundation has not settled does not pool.
To round out the exterior of the house is the roof. When examining your roof look for the following: cracked caulk or rust spots; buckled, curled, blistered, missing or broken shingles; cracked and worn rubber boots around vent pipes; excess of moss or lichen, which typically signals a decaying roof.
For the rest of the outside, shut down your sprinkler system and drain outdoor faucets and or water hoses. It is probably in your best interest to store hoses inside. Outdoor faucets are highly susceptible to freezing. By draining the line, you are allowing any leftover water to freeze and expand without breaking pipes or seals. Pipes that are prone to freezing can be kept warm throughout the winter months with heat tape. It is recommended that every family member knows how to turn the water off, should a problem arise. Also, if applicable, shut down your pool as well.
Some final tips include aerating the lawn and overseeding it, then applying fertilizer with winterizer. Drain the gas from lawn equipment so that old gas does not ruin the fuel filters. Apply concrete or asphalt sealer to patios, driveways and walkways. Cover your patio furniture on a non-rainy day so that moisture is not captured. Lastly, as a just in case, see how well your snowblower is working and secure salt and a shovel.