The clock is ticking and winter is not that far off, so now is a great time to prepare your home for the long cold winter months ahead. Tackle these tasks one at a time and you will not be overwhelmed.Do not wait until the last minute to take care of basic tasks! Do not wait until the snow and rain is coming down to start thinking about what needs to be done.
- Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors so you are sure that they are in good working order. They can save your life and do save thousands every year. If you do not have detectors on every floor of your home, get them, that one item should be a top priority. Tackle this task right away.
- Have your fireplace inspected by a qualified/certified chimney sweep to verify that it is safe to use. If you use your fireplace regularly, have it inspected annually. Don't rely on a 'cleaning log'. Logs do not see or correct flue damage! Get a hold of some good firewood not only for that warm comfortable feeling that a fireplace can provide, it is a good idea to have that on hand, instead of having to brave the cold weather in a search for wood to burn during the winter. Don't store firewood inside- it's a great way to bring insects in! I've seen several instances where stored wood led to termite damage!!
- Close all the air conditioning vents if they are separate from the heating system and secure and put away any window air conditioners. Cover your air conditioning compressor (the outdoor unit) with a tarp or custom fit cover. Don't forget to secure the cover from wind!
- Turn off and drain your outside water faucets. There should be a shutoff valve just inside the house where the faucet enters the siding. Turn this valve off then turn the outide valve on and leave it on. This will drain the faucet fixture of water and prevent freezing. For added protection you can install a screw-on end-cap to the faucet.
- Now is a great time to change your hot air furnace filter- I recommend a good quality HEPA or allergen filter unit - it's worth the extra cost. The cheap blue 99 cent filters just don't cut it.
Make yourself a list of any repairs around the house you may need - before winter comes. Find and fix any heating leaks that exist. On a brisk windy day check every outside door, and window to determine areas that leak or let in cold air, and repair as needed.
Assemble all the tools you might need this winter; snow blower or shovel, rock salt or ice melt, sand, warm gloves, hat, etc. Make sure the snowplow is tuned up and is in good working order.
Some more important items to consider:
- Caulk around all windows and door glass and do not overlook all exterior trim. Put weather stripping on all doors and around all windows. Check for cracks in the putty insulation around pipes and electrical outlets.
- Install storm windows and doors if you do not already have them. Use storm windows that are made from modern insulated glass. If you have older windows with screens and storm window panels, don't forget to raise the screens and close the storms!
Have your heating system inspected and or tuned up by a licensed heating/air-conditioning professional.
- Check all your gutters and downspouts; fix or clean them if needed. Make sure downspouts discharge away from the foundation by at least 3 feet.
- Trim any bushes and trees away from the house.
- Check all fire extinguishers and replace as needed.
- Check your sump pump. If it grinds or sounds noisy, think about a replacement. Like your downspouts, be sure the discharge is routed away from the foundation by at least 3 feet!
Following these tips and tasks will help make your home safer, more comfortable, and more economical this winter.