The fall is the best time of the year to start preparing your home for winter, temperatures drop and your home will need proper maintenance. In order to help you get your home ready for coming winters we have compiled tips to help you.
Homeowners should have their furnace inspected by an HVAC professional, and have the ducts cleaned. You should also buy furnace filters and change them every month. If you don’t have one already, invest in a programmable thermostat. Bleed the valves on hot water radiators by opening the valves on them slightly until water comes out, and then close them. Finally for the safety of everyone in your home, remove all flammable material from the area around your furnace. If your home has a fireplace you should prepare it for use. A cap or screen should be put on top of the chimney in order to keep animals such as rodents and birds from entering it. If your chimney hasn’t been cleaned in a long time, you should call a chimney sweet to have soot and creosote removed from the chimney. Buy cords of firewood or chop wood and then store it in a dry place outside of your home so that it is ready for the winter months. Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing, and check the mortar between bricks and tuckpoint if needed.
Inspecting the exterior of your home, its doors and windows is crucial. Inspecting the interior of the home for cracks and checking the exposed entry points where pipes enter the house and make sure they are sealed. If your doors don’t have weather stripping around them, you should have it installed or if it is damaged have it replaced in order to prevent cold air from entering into the house, it’s also important to caulk around the windows for the same reasons. If your windows are cracked and you need to replace the entire window, make sure to prime and paint any exposed wood to help it weather the elements. If your basement windows are in window wells, consider covering them with plastic shields. If you have storm windows you should replace your screens with them in order to help keep heat loss to a minimum. Make sure to insulate your attic in order to prevent warm air from reaching your roof and causing ice dams. It’s important to maintain yard and weather specific equipment. Homeowners should drain gas from lawnmowers over the winter in order to prevent the gas from going bad. If you have a snow blower, give it a tune up. If you have rakes or snow shovels that need to be replaced to it before you really need a new one. Any equipment used for gardening in the summer should be cleaned, dried and put into storage. In preparation for snow and ice, sharpen ice choppers and buy bags of sand and rock salt ahead of time.
Homeowners should periodically check the foundations of their homes and rake away any debris and remove vegetation from the foundation. To prevent small animals from entering the space below the house, make sure that it is sealed up, these include tuckpoints or cracks in the foundation, as animals like mice can slip into cracks as this as a coin. Inspect window sill plates for dry rot and pest infestations, and make sure crawlspace entrances are secure as well. For your family’s safety you need to make sure that you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed. Some city ordinances will require that you have smoke detectors installed in every room. Homeowners should always have spare smoke detector batteries and change them at the end daylight savings time. Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed near your furnace or water heater in order to check for gas leaks. Detectors should be tested regularly to make sure that they work. Any fire extinguishers older than 10 years should be replaced.
Preventing plumbing freezes is very important, you should know where your water main is located in the event that an emergency occurs and you need to be able to shut it off. There are a few simple things that also should be done, such as draining garden hoses, insulate plumbing that is exposed, drain air conditioner pipers, and close the water shut off valve on your air conditioner if it has one. If you leave your home for a vacation, make sure that your heat is kept on, and set to a minimum of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Homeowners should also prepare their landscaping and outdoor surfaces, trim tree branches that hang too close to the house or electrical wires, which could cause problems if they become laden with snow or ice. Talk to a gardener to know when trees should be pruned to prevent winter injuries. You should plant bulbs that flower in the spring during the winter and lift bulbs that can’t survive winter, like Dahlias, in areas where the ground freezes. Also move any potted plants that would be sensitive to cold weather indoors or to a more sheltered area. Seal your driveway, brick patios and wood decks to prevent damage from freezing water. It’s also important to have an emergency kit. This kit should contain indoor candles and a lighter for use during power outages. Find the phone numbers for your utility companies and post them somewhere where they are readily available, such as inside the phone book or near your phone. Purchase a battery backup to protect important electronics or your computers. Buy bottled water, and non perishable food supplies, including pet food if you have pets, blankets, and a first-aid kit that is easy to find in case of an emergency situation. It is also very important for your family to have an evacuation plan that they know well.