Preparing Your Home For Winter

Owning a home is a big responsibility and there is always something to do around the house. As a homeowner, your home’s condition should be a priority.

In many cases, performing simple maintenance will protect your home and save you in the long run. Letting things go can result in deferred maintenance which can be quite costly.

Here are some general home maintenance tips that should be done to get your home ready for the winter.

Have Your Heating System Inspected
This a must-do. Getting your furnace inspected and cleaned keeps it running in the safest and most efficient manner. Having your furnace cleaned, vacuumed, oiled etc. will keep energy costs down. With a gas furnace, the filter must be changed. A dirty air filter causes the gas furnace to produce less heat and decreases its efficiency.

If you do not have a programmable thermostat, it might be a good idea to invest in one so you can set the house temperature up and down based upon when you are in the house.

Trim Trees and branches
Once the leaves have fallen trim back any branches that are weak or are hanging on or too close to the house or roof. If there are any limbs close to overhead power lines, please call your electric company to inform them of branches too near or on top of the wires. Do NOT do any trimming near the power lines.

Clean out the Gutters
Gutters should be cleared of all leaves and debris to prevent backups and poor drainage. Even if you have leaf guard systems, junk still gets in. Gutters should be flushed to clean out and be sure the downspouts are working property. Clogged gutters have been known to cause water in the basement.

Bring in Garden Hoses and Prepare Outside Faucets
Detach hoses from the outside faucets and wrap them ensuring they are free of kinks. Turn off water to the water spigot to prevent costly external and internal plumbing repairs. Install a hose bib cover on each outdoor spigot to prevent freezing. If you have an underground sprinkler system, have a professional push out any remaining water from seasonal use.

Protect Pipes from Freezing
If you have pipes in a garage or an unheated space where the temperature can go below freezing, wrap the pipe in a foam tube (check your local hardware store) and secure with duct tape if necessary.

Plug Air Leaks
Cold air that leaks into your home comes in through windows, doors, and holes around pipes, vents and electrical outlets. Look for gaps and fill with an insulating foam sealant or if very small, caulk can be used. For windows, apply weatherstripping between the sash and window frame to eliminate air leakage. Just heard that using those electrical outlet child protective covers on each outlet prevents air leakage as well.

Clean the chimney
If your fireplace gets a lot of action in the winter, having your chimney cleaned and inspected is a must. The gases that burning wood produces cools and condenses on the inside of the chimney producing creosote. If there is enough of a buildup of creosote, a chimney fire can develop.

Get a Carbon Monoxide Detector
Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas given off by gas appliances, furnaces, and fireplaces that can quickly kill at dangerous levels in homes that are closed up with little outside air. Detectors should be placed high on a wall on every level in a home and near bedrooms.

Add Insulation In Attic
We all know hot air rises. Keep that warm air from escaping out of your home by checking your attic to see if it needs extra insulation. Insulation experts recommend about a 12-inch depth of insulation. There are plenty of environmentally safe insulation products available.

A little preventive maintenance goes a long way in protecting your home and keeping it in tip-top shape for the winter. A small investment of money and time in getting your home ready for winter can save you big $$$ in deferred maintenance down the road.