Winterizing Your Home
Winter’s coming….and will do so every year. So here’s a list of ways to prepare your house for the weather that comes with winter.
1. Inspect your heating and air system.
Change your filters, and then give the heat a test run. It’s not a bad idea to have a professional examine your HVAC system to make sure everything is working properly. They can tackle any needed maintenance to help extend your system’s lifespan.
2. Paint and caulk exterior wood.
Annual touchups with fresh paint and caulk prevent rot and deterioration of any untreated wood used on the outside of your house.
3. Seal exterior masonry.
Water can enter cracks and then freeze, expanding and further damaging concrete patios and driveways, brick and stone mortar joints, and other masonry. To prevent this, fill in any existing cracks, and then apply a concrete sealer to all of your flat masonry surfaces.
4. Seek and seal air leaks.
Keep your energy bill down and your home warmer by seeking out any potential air leaks. Anywhere you can see light coming through could use some caulk or a new seal.
5. Clean chimneys.
Be sure to check your chimney and fireplace every year; this is a good task for a professional. They should make sure there are no obstructions in the chimney that could force smoke into the house or catch fire. They should also repair any gaps in the firebox to prevent fire spreading behind the firebox and into the wood framing.
6. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
This is the time of year that house fires increase, and carbon monoxide leaks can be more hazardous with decreased ventilation. Make sure all these alarms are working, and check that your furnace and water heater are properly vented, as these are the most likely culprits behind a carbon monoxide leak.
7. Shut down and drain exterior water sources.
Turn off and drain any sprinkler systems, swimming pools, and exterior faucets before winter arrives. For pools, it’s recommended to add winterizing algaecide and floaters after lowering the water level and cleaning the pool. Consider insulating exterior faucets after turning off their water source and draining them.
8. Insulate exposed pipes.
If you have water pipes in uninsulated areas, such as a crawlspace or attic, insulate them to prevent major leaks. For the best results, wrap pipes in electrical heating tape first, and then cover them with foam insulating sleeves.
9. Prep lawn equipment.
Gasoline goes bad over time, so it’s important to drain the gas from your lawn mowers and other equipment. Gas you keep on hand in the garage can have a fuel stabilizer added to it for the winter, or you can simply pour it into your vehicles – then buy new in the spring. Mixed fuel for small engine equipment, like a weed eater, shouldn’t be put into vehicles; instead, plan for a final use at the end of the fall season to run the fuel out.
10. Remove dead trees.
Before the leaves have fallen off the trees in your yard, check to make sure they’re healthy. Dead trees can fall or drop heavy limbs on your house or your neighbor’s, causing costly damage or even injury. Signs of a dying tree include reduced leaf production, brittle and falling bark, and frequently falling limbs.
11. Clean the gutters.
After the leaves have fallen off your trees, it’s a good time to clean the gutters. Clear all leaves and debris, and remove any obstructions. Clogged gutters lead to water drainage that can damage your roof, foundation, landscaping, and much more.
12. Pest-proof your attic.
As temperatures drop, small animals like birds, squirrels, and mice begin looking for warm and dry places to nest. To prevent pest infiltration, inspect your attic several times a year, and cover gable vents with a screen. Keep tree limbs trimmed far away from the house, and periodically walk around your home’s perimeter to inspect the soffit and fascia.
13. Cover patio furniture.
When it hasn’t rained for a few days and your outdoor furniture is dry, give it a thorough cleaning before covering it with waterproof coverings. Don’t cover furniture if it’s wet, as this will trap the moisture and could lead to mold and mildew.
You can also aerate, seed, and fertilize your lawn, buy a snow shovel and sidewalk salt, and have an energy audit performed on your house in preparation for winter. But this checklist is a great place to start, helping you keep your home safe throughout the season!