8 Crucial Tips for Preparing your Home for Winter
Clean out your gutters and check for blockage
Since fall is just about over and the leaves have left your trees it’s time to clean up where your rake can’t reach, your gutters. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to do this. It’s simply a matter of getting a ladder and scooping it out by hand or with some kind of small tool. I would recommend wearing gloves and bringing a bucket with you. The leaves start to decay and can become nasty.
If you haven’t invested in some type of gutter guard by now, I would highly recommend it, as it will protect your gutters from leaves and other common debris that can clog up drains. Most guards are fairly inexpensive now and will still allow water to pass through. Check out your local hardware store and see the options available to you.
Disconnect your hoses and cover them
Frozen pipes cost commercial buildings and homeowners hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage every year. Take an hour or two out of your day to disconnect your hoses from the spout outside and then cover any exposed pipes in your basement or home. Most hardware stores carry insulation specifically for pipes which helps to keep them from freezing.
Additionally for the outside spouts there are styrofoam covers available. These covers protect your spouts from the cold wind and stay on with a small elastic strap. They’re cheap, easy to install, and work.
If you have a sprinkler system or other irrigation system setup be sure to disconnect AND drain it before the temperature gets below freezing. This can be another costly repair if not done before the cold hits.
Clean your furnace
I’m sure you’re familiar with the strong dust burning smell when your furnace first turns over on a cold winter day. This doesn’t necessarily mean anything bad, but before the first time the furnace has to come on, why not clean it beforehand? It should only take about 20-30 minutes to clean the average size furnace from dust and debris. If you haven’t already, replace the filter and then take a shop-vac to the vents, and surrounding areas.
Buy your winter necessities now!
Don’t get stuck without a shovel or rushing to Walmart to pick one up at the last second like most will this winter. Instead, go to the store now, pick up at least a bag of salt and if you don’t have a good metal shovel, get one now. There’s nothing worse than going to Walmart in the middle of a blizzard just to find out they’re sold out of shovels and salt.
Check for leaks in windows and doors
A simple visual inspection of the windows around your house can help you identify small issues that will make your winter a bit more comfortable. Check the linings of your windows for any cracks or gaps in the seals and if necessary apply a line of caulk to them.
Do your windows have a weather strip lining the bottom? If not, weather strip is only a couple dollars and can make a world of difference for a drafty window.
Don't have any caulk handy? Take a towel, roll it up, and push it against the leak. Although it's simple, it will help to at least eliminate some of the draft. The same goes if you have draft underneath a door, a towel pushed up against the crack can make a world of difference.
Get the chimney cleaned and inspected
If you’re like my family we build fires in our fireplace every winter. They’re warm, cozy, and they give the home a nice oak smell. However, before you start any fire you should have your chimney cleaned and inspected. Over time, large amounts of soot can build up in the flue, which can pose as a fire hazard. It’s recommended that if you burn over 40 hours’ worth of fire you should have your chimney cleaned and inspected at least once a year.
Also, have your chimney sweep inspect the crown, flash, and any exterior parts of the chimney. This simple visual check may help to keep birds, and other animals out of your chimney. The smell of a dead bird roasting over the first year’s fire isn’t all too pleasing.
Bring in outdoor furniture
Unless your furniture can handle the harsh weather, bring it in now. Ice, cold winds, and snow can damage the fabric and materials used to make your furniture. By bringing it in now, you’ll preserve it for those beautiful summer days.
Don’t have the space for your outdoor furniture? Consider renting a storage unit for a few months. It will probably end up saving you more money down the line when you won’t have to replace your furniture.
Get an energy audit done
Last, but certainly not least, have an energy audit done. If you have never had one done, now is the perfect time to do it. Having one done will show you all the areas of your house which may be costing you more many than they should. An auditor will provide a complete review of your home and offer suggestions for improving your home’s efficiency.