Do you procrastinate when it comes to winter preparations for your home? Taking care of crucial home tasks can save you money on utility bills and unwanted repairs. Don’t wait until the storm hits, prepare for winter now with this ultimate winter checklist.
- Check for drafts and air leaks. During the winter, the goal is to keep the warm air in and the cold air out. Warm air will escape out of cracks and gaps and will make heating systems work even harder. Use caulk to seal obvious cracks and openings and install weather stripping to seal the gaps around doors and windows.
- Power up the furnace. It’s probably been a while since you last turned on the furnace. Before powering up the first time for the season, do a quick once over. Start by changing your furnace filter; it will increase air flow and energy efficiency immediately. Don’t forget the duct work; a central home heating system can lose 20% of the air flow if ducts are not insulated and sealed properly. Do a spot check on all registers and vents to insure they are not blocked by furniture or drapes.
- Fireplace benefits. You may not use a fireplace as a primary heat source, but they do provide a cooking and heat resource if you lose power during a storm. Using a flashlight to check the flue for any signs of creosote buildup, bird nests, cracks or crumbling. When not in use, make sure the damper closes tightly to prevent drafts.
- Reverse ceiling fans. In most cases, ceiling fans have a reverse switch and there’s a good reason for it. In the summer months the fan should turn counterclockwise, but in the winter turn it clockwise instead. Warm air rises to the ceiling, but with your fan spinning clockwise it will create an updraft that pushes warm air around the room without creating a cool down.
- Insulate pipes. To prevent frozen or busted water lines, any exposed pipes in unheated areas (like in the basement or crawlspace) should be covered with pipe insulation sleeves. Cover every part of the pipe, including bends and joints, then use duct tape to seal the seams.
- Swap out bedding. Wash and store your warmer weather sheets and comforters. Retrieve the flannel sheets and quilts from storage and do a ‘no heat’ tumble in the dryer to freshen. Add a few fleece throws to the couch or family room for a little extra comfort and warmth when temperatures start to dip.
- Light the way. When daylight savings time ends, nightfall comes a whole lot earlier. Line your sidewalks or drive way with solar lights for a clear lit and safe path to your home. Replace aging bulbs at entrance ways or patios with energy saving LED lights that can withstand even the toughest weather conditions. To save on energy costs, install automatic daylight shut-off or motion sensors so lights are only on when you need them.
- Clean the gutters. A clogged gutter presents numerous problems to your home. After the leaves have fallen, remove all debris from gutters, which will include leaves, twigs, and caked on dirt and grit. Scoop out debris and then using a hose, run water through the gutter into the downspout to make sure there are no clogs. Failure to clear your gutters could potentially lead to leaks or water damage inside your home.
- Put away the patio furniture. Give your patio furniture a good scrub down before you store it away, then it will be ready to use when summer rolls around again. Give the same attention to the gas grill, clean and unhook the propane tank, if you plan to store it. Store your propane tank in a well ventilated area away from any flame or heat source.
- Prepare the landscape. Heavy snow and ice can wreak havoc on trees and shrubs if they aren’t ready for it. Take a look at the trees in your yard and remove any loose or broken branches; especially those hanging over the roof. Run the lawn tractor over the yard one last time to mulch any leaves left in the yard. Winterize your mower, trimmers, and other equipment and remove any debris or clippings before storing. Put away flower pots and yard tools so they don’t become hazards when covered in snow.
- Turn off outside faucets. Remove and drain garden hoses attached to outside faucets and store them in a shed or garage. Using the shut-off valve, turn to the off position then open outside faucet to drain. Check for standing water around faucets, gutters, or decks and sweep or squeegee away to avoid slippery spots around your home.
- Buy winter supplies early. Don’t wait for the snow to start falling before you prepare and buy your winter supplies; you may be out of luck. Stay one step ahead of the snow and ice and buy your snow removal gear and ice-melt now. Store supplies deplete quickly once the season begins so a proactive approach can mean the difference between a clear and safe walk to the car or snow and ice piled up with no way out.
- Make a plan. If you’ve ever been through a major storm, you know preparation is everything. It’s always a good idea to have non-perishable food, water, medical supplies, and candles on hand in the event of an emergency. Prepare a storm strategy for staying warm and cooking meals if the power goes out. Share the plan with your family so everyone is on the same page, before bad weather hits.
Is your home ready for winter? Take time to assess what it needs to survive the toughest season of all, ‘old man winter.’ If you plan to list your home this winter, contact George Papakostas for tips on selling your home during winter.