Prepping Your Home for Cold Weather

 

The weather is beginning to get colder, and as it does, the threat of winter weather looms ever closer.  Everyone knows that before a winter storm hits, they've got to go to the store and pick up milk, bread, and eggs to survive,  but there are more things you can be doing right now, before that imminent occurance is upon us.  The Fall is a great time to get your home ready to brave the cold weather, whether you're worried about making your life easier come Springtime cleanup, you'd like to keep your house warmer this Winter, or you are looking to avoid a home disaster following a Winter storm.  So, we present you with this list of things you can do now, before that cold snap sets in, to help you with whatever your concerns are for this coming Winter.

 


Clean the Gutters

 

When Winter hits, the Midwest tends to be hit with a mix of wet and frozen precipitation.  It's important to remember that even the frozen precipitation turns to liquid at some point, and as it does, the liquid will drain to your gutters, down the spout, and be deposited a distance from your home and in a manner that will drain away from your home.  That, at least, is true if you have your gutter system set up properly.  Now is the time of year to unclog your gutters to prevent water overflow.  Also double check to effectiveness of your gutter drainage system to ensure that the water is being dispensed away from your home (and that it won’t make its way back toward your home down a decline).

 

For proper drainage around your home, it is important to fill in any holes that have developed around your foundation to prevent melting snow and ice finding its way toward your home.

 

Seal Your Window & Door Frames

 

Unsealed window and door frames can lead to a striking amount of heat loss during the colder months of the year.  To ensure that your home isn’t losing significant heat during this Winter, check your home for air leaks, and seal the problem areas with caulk.  Adding weather stripping is a great choice for cutting back on air leaks, as well, and it’s cost efficient, at less than $5 a roll.

 

Protect Your Roof

 

Snow and ice accumulation on trees can become incredibly heavy.  To ensure that your trees won’t crash down on your home from the weight, trim your trees before Winter hits.  When doing so, you should be trimming any limbs that hang above your home, as well as any that are visibly dead. 

 

To help prevent any potential damage to your home or roof, inspect your roof and replace or repair any damage to the roof or shingles.

 

Service Your Furnace

 

When the cold weather arrives, HVAC service providers are extremely busy, and there is often a bit of a wait to have any services performed, should you encounter a problem with your furnace.  To avoid the hassle and stress, and to keep your furnace running as efficiently as possible, it’s a great idea to have your furnace serviced now.  This increases your chances of making it through the winter months without any major furnace issues.

 

For maximum efficiency, it is also the time of year to change your furnace’s air filter.  This keeps your system running properly, especially as the air dries out, increasing the amount of dust in the air in your home.

 

Seal Your Driveway

 

This task is one that is often not suggested, but it is a great tip for cold weather preparations.  The melting and freezing of snow and ice often leads to the breaking down of asphalt and concrete, causing holes and cracks in roadways, sidewalks, and driveways.  Applying a layer of sealant to your driveway in the Fall can significantly decrease your chances of encountering damage, because the sealant creates a protective layer that prohibits the water to penetrate the concrete or asphalt.  This project is fairly quick and easy, and the supplies are easily obtainable at any home improvement store.

 

Service Summer and Winter Equipment

 

To maintain optimum performance of your lawn equipment that is utilized in the Summer and Spring months, it’s important that you drain the gas and oil from your lawn equipment.  On Fall and Winter equipment like your leaf blower and snowblower, perform your tune-ups now in the Fall, and be sure to turn on the equipment before you need it to make sure that it starts easily and is in optimum working condition. 

 

Roll Up & Store Hoses

 

Before freezing weather hits, remember to unhook any hoses, drain them, and turn off water to your outdoor spigots.  Also, winterize your sprinkler system, if your home is equipped with one.  Freezing water lines can create a nightmare of problems, but these simple steps can help you avoid any in your home.

 

Have Chimney Cleaned & Inspected

 

Having a woodburning fireplace or furnace is wonderful in the Winter months, providing your home with cheap heating.  They can also be incredibly dangerous if not maintained properly.  It is important to have your chimney serviced every year to avoid excessive build-up of soot, which can consequentially cause a fire in your home.  If you aren’t sure how to properly perform the cleaning and inspection, contact a professional to have them do it for you.  You will still save money on heating this Winter by burning wood for heat, and you will avoid any tragedies.

 

On a side note, if your home is heated, in part or in full, by a wood burning fireplace or furnace, be sure that the wood you are storing outdoors is at least fifteen feet from your home in order to prevent a termite infestation.

 

Drain Hot Water Heater

 

Sediment can build up and clog the pipes of your water heater, and draining your system to get rid of some of that build-up can increase your water heater’s energy efficiency by up to fifty percent!  It’s beneficial by increasing the lifespan of your equipment, and it saves you money on your energy bill… A true win-win!

 

Care for Your Lawn

 

As soon as the weather turns frigid, we all start longing for the warmth, sunshine, and life that Spring will bring.  To make your Spring cleaning a little easier this year, consider prepping your lawn for the warmer months now, before it turns cold.  You can aerate, fertilize, and seed your lawn now, and it can actually very beneficial to do so.  The precipitation that comes in Winter will help the nutrients penetrate your soil effectively, meaning that your lawn will be richer and fuller in the Spring.  Also consider mowing your leaves instead of raking and burning them, turning them to a mulch that will break down and become a natural fertilizer compost that costs you nothing! 

 

If your home is equipped with a wood burning fireplace or furnace, consider this tip as well: Saving the ashes from this Winter.  If you have a vegetable garden, till it this Fall, spread the ashes over it as Winter continues, enabling the precipitation to soak the nitrogen into your soil.  You will be amazed at the richness added to your soil!  If you don’t have a vegetable garden, consider spreading the ashes in your flowerbeds for a wonderful fertilizer that will help you have more blooms!

 

Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

 

Reversing your ceiling fans in the Fall can help with heating costs in the Winter.  Rather than blowing air downward, the fans will keep the air in your home moving, which is a big help to the comfort level in your home, considering that heat rises.