Follow these tips to ensure your home is in good shape to keep you dry and warm this winter
1. Windows & Doors – Switch out your summer screens with storm windows. Check weather stripping and caulk on windows and doors for cracks and air leaks. Inspect basement and attic windows for drafts, loose frames, and cracked panes.
2. Fireplaces & Wood Stoves – Make sure your chimney and flue are in good working order before the cold weather hits. Check the chimney cap to prevent rain, animals, and debris from entering. The exterior of your chimney should be free from cracks and holes in the masonry. Use a mirror and flashlight to look for soot and creosote buildup in the flue. Be sure to call a professional if you discover any issues you cannot repair yourself, as they may be a potential danger.
3. Roof Inspection – Look for damaged shingles, corroded and warped flashing, and leaky vents. Inspect the caulking around flashing, the chimney, skylights, vent pipes, and anything else that may be mounted to the roof. Trim trees and any vegetation that comes in contact with the roof, as this may prevent proper water run-off.
4. Gutters – Clean gutters and downspouts after the leaves have fallen with a gutter scoop. Look for corrosion, leaking joints, and missing or loose hangers. Run a hose down the downspouts after you have removed the debris to check for leaks and to see where the water pools and runs off. Use downspout extensions to ensure water is discharged at least four feet away from your home’s foundation.
5. Winterize your Outside Faucets – Turn off the water valves inside by turning them clockwise. Open the drain cap with pliers and let excess water drain into a bucket. After the water has been drained, close drain cap tightly. Consider purchasing insulated exterior hose bib covers for added protection.
6. Interior Safety Check – Test smoke and CO detectors and replace batteries, inspect or install fire extinguishers, review fire escape plans with the family, and remove all fire hazards from your home.
7. Humidifiers – Clean your humidifier at least once a year to remove scale, rust, and hard water marks. Use a humidifier cleaner with an anti-bacterial solution to prevent airborne bacteria from flowing through the blower. Consult your Owner’s Manual for proper care and maintenance.
8. Heating System – Change your air filter once a month to ensure you have clean air flowing through your system. Fire up the furnace and inspect the flame. Anything other than a steady blue flame can indicate combustion problems and requires professional help. If you have a propane or oil furnace, make sure you have plenty of fuel to get through the winter months.
9. Pest Control – Check the perimeter of your home and seal off any areas that may serve as an access point for pests. Move firewood piles and other stored materials as far away from your home as possible to keep away insects and other pests that may make their homes there. Keep the interior of your home clean and dry, especially the kitchen, to eliminate the draw for unwanted guests.
10. Prepare for Winter Storms – Stock up on batteries, bottled water, non-perishable food, snow shovels, and rock salt in preparation for inclement weather. Develop a communication plan with loved ones and family in case of an emergency.