We’re entering that time of year where cool air is replacing the warmth of summer, reminding us that colder, winter weather conditions are on the way. Although it is autumn now, you should prepare your home now for several winter months of intense cold, snow, wind and ice. This can help you ensure warmth, prevent structural damage and save money on your monthly heating expenses.
Review these tips to prepare your home for winter now. This will ease your mind when old man winter descends upon us.
Maintain your heating system
First and foremost, make sure your heating system is functioning properly. Regular maintenance is essential to keep your heating system running when you need it the most. If you don’t have a service contract on our HVAC system, it may be harder to get maintenance scheduled. Don’t wait – schedule your service now. Regularly scheduled maintenance will keep your heating system functional longer and can help reduce monthly fuel expenses.
Install programmable thermostats
If you have an older thermostat, consider replacing it with a newer programmable model. It is one of the easiest ways to save money on your heating bill. Programming your thermostat to turn off a half hour before you leave for work and turn on a half hour before you get home can greatly reduce your heating costs when compared to leaving your thermostat on all day.
Clean your chimney
Before you light the first fire of the year in your wood stove, call a chimney sweep to inspect your chimney and ventilation system. Lighting a fire when the flue is blocked could cause a potential fire or result in carbon monoxide leakage into your home.
Even if you don’t have a wood-burning fireplace in your home, all heating systems that utilize wood, coal, gas and oil require a cleaned and properly serviced chimney for safe use. Hire a professional to clean your chimney at least once a year.
Inspect and test your safety equipment
Test your carbon monoxide and fire detectors now to ensure they are working properly. They do have a life expectancy, so purchase new ones for all bedrooms so you and your family feels safe.
Inspect and test your your fire extinguishers to ensure they are in working order. Don’t be caught needing one and find out then that it no longer works.
Inspect your roof
Your roof is the first line of defense to protect your home from the winter elements. Heavy snow, accumulating ice, snowmelt, and powerful winds can damage roofing materials and end up causing leaks after winter storms.
Here’s what homeowners should look for when they inspect their roof:
- Inspect the flashings around chimneys, pipes and corners for damage to prevent water from leaking in and around them.
- Check to be sure your shingles are flat. Those that are buckling, curling or blistering are signs that your shingles may be at their end of life.
- Look in the gutters for pieces of shingles or shingle granules. If you see a lot in the gutters, this can be a sign that your roof may need to be replaced.
- Look at your roof from your attic to make sure there are no water stains or other signs that your roof has been damaged.
Clean the gutters
Gutters allow rain water to drain away from the home, preventing water damage to windows, siding, foundation and roof. It is important to inspect and maintain your gutters to ensure that they remain in working order. Conduct routine gutter inspection and maintenance at least twice a year: once in the fall and once in the spring.
Fall inspection is critical to remove the leaves and debris that can cause issues when snow starts to fall. If gutters are not clear, rainwater, snow and ice may dam up and overflow. Routine gutter inspection and maintenance can go a long way in preventing this from becoming a problem.
Caulk windows and doors
Look for spaces between your siding and your door frames or windows. If you find some, then it’s important to add exterior caulking so the cold air doesn’t get in and increase your heating costs. The best type of caulking for exterior use is silicone caulk because it works best for jobs exposed to water. While it’s expensive, it’s worth the extra money because it’s flexible, has great adhesion, and a long life. Added benefits are that it’s mildew resistant and won’t yellow or discolor.
Now is the time to check to see whether your snow blower starts. Check the snow blower’s fuel levels, change the oil and replace the spark plugs yourself if you are handy. If it doesn’t start, get it serviced before you need it. If your driveway is large, shoveling is not something you want to do by hand.
Be prepared for power outages and have candles and flashlights available. Stock up on batteries. You may want to have a backup generator installed. If you already have a generator, make sure it works. Stock up on fuel to run your snow blower and your generator.
Prepare your yard and irrigation systems
Now we should turn towards the rest of your property. It too, needs to get ready for winter.
- To prevent damage to your home, drain outdoor pipes and sprinkler systems.
- Turn off the shut-off valves for outdoor faucets to prevent pipes from freezing and breaking.
- Store your patio furniture in a shed, garage or basement or cover it with a durable, water resistant material.
- Remove and drain your hoses before storing them in your shed.
- Sweep any remaining autumn leaves on your patio or deck to prevent them from getting wet and rotting over the next several months.
- When storing your mower, deplete its fuel level or add a fuel stabilizer to make sure it starts in the spring.
- Trim any large trees that have branches hovering over electrical lines. Falling branches can cause structural damage, injury or power outages in your neighborhood.
- Inspect your trees for stability for your safety and the safety of motorists and neighbors. Annual inspections for rot and dangerous branches should be conducted for all trees located near public areas.
Stay safe and prepared this winter
Living in New England, we are accustomed to the harsh winter weather. We sometimes take for granted that the beautiful snowfall can also cause serious damage.
When a storm is looming, make sure all your devices are charged and have an auxiliary power supply to charge your mobile phones on hand. Your mobile phone gives you access to news, weather reports and communication during an outage.
Take these extra steps now to prepare your home for winter. You will not only have a safer, more comfortable home, but you will also avoid costly repairs and higher monthly utility expenses.