10 Steps to Prepare Your Home for Winter
Now that winter is upon us it’s time to prepare your home for cold weather. Preparing your home for a long and cold winter is something every homeowner should consider before the season takes hold. Below is a list of steps to prepare your home for winter.
Have your furnace or boiler inspected
Early fall is a great time to have an HVAC technician come out to look at your furnace or boiler. Have them clean and examine your heat source to make sure it is proper working order. Change your air filters and inspect your ducts to make sure they are clear of dust, pet hair and debris. This is the time of year you need to make sure your humidifier is turned on and set for winter.
Reverse your ceiling fans
Reverse the switch on your ceiling fan, use it to run the fan’s blades in the opposite direction after you turn on your heat. The fan will produce an updraft and push down the warm air into the room from the ceiling. This is especially useful when you have high ceilings, and it might even allow you to turn down your thermostat few degrees for energy savings.
Clean your gutters
Cleaning your gutters is not complicated, but it’s an important job nonetheless. Blocked rain gutters can lead to the formation of ice dams, which can loosen shingles and tear off gutters, leaving your roof vulnerable to leaks. By using a ladder, simply climb to the edge of your roof and carefully remove leaves, sticks and any debris from the gutters around the roof. The primary purpose is to make sure nothing restricts the flow of water, and that no stagnant water remains in the gutters. Don’t forget to check the downspouts and make sure the water is flowing away from the foundation and sidewalks.
Prevent ice dams
If your home last winter had a lot of icicles, or worse, ice dams, these issues can cause meltwater to back up and flow into your house; it’s important to take the steps necessary to prevent potential damage this year. Get the assistance of a home-energy auditor or weatherization contractor. Have them fix the air leaks or inadequate insulation in your attic. A good rule of thumb, if you notice sections of the roof where the snow melts faster, it could be an indication of heat loss.
Check Windows, Roofs, and Doors
If there are gaps between siding, windows, and door frames, you need to reapply exterior caulk. Silicone caulk is best for exterior use because it won’t shrink and it’s impervious to the elements. Check your roof for any loose or missing shingles that can cause a leak as snow and ice buildup on your roof.
If you have storm windows, now would be a good time to remove the screens and replace them with the storm windows. Don’t forget to check the weather seal around doors and windows for a draft. Even the smallest draft can affect your heating bills.
Shut off exterior faucets
Frigid winter temperatures can cause your pipes to freeze and burst into your home, which will result in significant water damage. Locate and close all shut-off valves that lead to outside hose bibs, and drain any excess water inside the lines. It’s also a good idea to drain any pipes in unheated areas of your home, such as your attic or basement.
Store your gas-powered equipment
Don’t forget about your lawn mower and other gas-powered landscaping equipment. It’s a good idea to properly store these items so they will start up in the spring. As the mower, gas powered weed whacker, chainsaws, and leaf blower sit during the winter, the fuel remaining in their engines will decompose, “varnishing” the carburetor and causing difficulty when you try to start the engine in the spring. Wait until the gas tank is nearly empty from use and run the engine (outdoors) to use up the remaining fuel, or add a fuel stabilizer like “heat.”
Call a chimney sweep
Before you burn any gas or wood, make sure your fireplace chimney and vents are clean and in good repair. This will prevent chimney fires and avoid carbon monoxide from creeping into your home. If you have a wood burning fireplace, have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney sweep to reduce your risk of a fire.
Stock up on food and winter supplies
Often heavy snow and ice storms can cause the loss of power and for people to be stranded in their cars for long periods of time. Don’t be left out in the cold! Stock up on essential food supplies and water for your home and car. Stock up on ice salt, antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid and other winter supplies.
If you have a generator or snow blower, make sure you have extra fuel for emergencies. Make sure you have blankets, water, ice scraper, cat litter or sand in your car in case you become stranded.
Preparing the interior and exterior of your home doesn’t have to be a stressful job. It only takes a weekend for your home and yard to be tucked away for the winter. This will give you the peace of mind to enjoy winter activities! Free yourself and your family up to enjoy the holiday season by taking time now to prepare your home for any issues that could put a damper on your fun!