As winter approaches, there are several things you should do around the house to ensure that you and your family stay warm and secure all winter.
15 Things You Can do now to Get Ready for Winter
We have compiled these 15 steps to help you get your house in top shape for whatever winter brings.
Table of Contents
- 1. Evacuate Vents and Chimneys to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Mishaps
- 2. Replace Shingles and Clean Your Gutters
- 3. Stock Up on Your Outdoor Implements
- 4. Gradually Condition Your Home to Cooler Temperatures
- 5. Protect Your Pipes
- 6. Check the Heat
- 7. Seal Windows and Doors
- 8. Inspect the Fireplace and Chimney
- 9. Prevent Ice Dams
- 10. Seal your masonry and hard surfaces
- 11. Clean and Store Lawn Equipment
- 12. Call in an arborist.
- 13. Check your home’s heating and air conditioning system
- 14. Prepare your lawn for winter and set it up for a great spring
- 15. Get Rid of Critters From Your Attic
1. Evacuate Vents and Chimneys to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Mishaps
During winter, the chances of having obstructed chimneys and vents increase a hazardous probability due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Here are a few tips on staying protected this winter:
- Check vents and chimneys to make certain they are clear.
- Remove leaves and climbers; prune shrubs and plants to ensure they don’t obstruct vents.
- Objects around a vent or chimney should be removed as they could obstruct the vent, which can lead to a backward flow of carbon monoxide into the home as well as trigger a heating system malfunction.
- To avoid this, install, inspect and/or replace smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Both fire and carbon monoxide can be quietly hazardous. Manufacturers suggest that detectors be replaced every five years.
2. Replace Shingles and Clean Your Gutters
Climb onto the roof to inspect and replace any loose shingles and avoid a potentially devastating in-house disaster from melting ice that could seep inside. Clean out your gutters simultaneously to remove leaves, sticks, and other debris which could obstruct the flow of rainwater and melting snow and ice placing an added strain on your gutters.
3. Stock Up on Your Outdoor Implements
Facing an impending winter storm without the proper indoors essentials — bread, milk, toilet paper, WINE would be unwise, and likewise, you shouldn’t forget about the supplies you’ll need to work with outdoors either. Conduct an early check to ensure that your rakes, shovels, snowblowers, sidewalk salt, and other winter cleanup items that you’ll need to ensure the safety of all who will step onto your property before, during, and after a winter-weather event are all in place. Rushing to the hardware store a day before will have you scrounging for the very little stock left or worse still, facing a supply-and-demand hike in pricing.
4. Gradually Condition Your Home to Cooler Temperatures
Immediately our homes get chilly, the kneejerk reaction is to rush up to the thermostat and turn up the heat. While it implies instant gratification for our natural impulses, our wallets will start to feel the crunch soon after.
Changing your warming pattern, according to Kyle James, founder of Rather-Be-Shopping.com, is an alternative approach to help acclimatize your body to living comfortably.
“If during the winter and fall months you typically keep your thermostat at 73 during the day and 66 at night, try an experiment and lower it by one degree each week for a month,” he says. “Slowly try changing the temperature you are used to and let your body adjust. Wear a sweatshirt if this is a difficult adjustment. This tip has the potential to save you quite a bit of money this winter.”
Another ingenious tip to facilitate heat-capture in your home during the winter is by sealing or wrapping your windows to prevent cold air from seeping in. Open the blinds and curtains in the morning to take advantage of the natural heat from the sun that will flood in through the windows and help raise the temperature of those rooms a bit.
5. Protect Your Pipes
It is common knowledge that as water freezes, it expands. The water inside your pipes expands when it freezes as well, which can cause the cracking and bursting of your pipes. Pipes could also burst when there is a build-up of pressure behind a chunk of ice. For this reason, it’s a good idea to leave faucets dripping in very cold weather, as, a burst pipe can cause massive damage. Take the following few steps to winterize your pipes and avoid a potentially disastrous claim.
- Drain water from your outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems to avoid freezing in those pipes.
- Disconnect and preserve outdoor hoses; protect outdoor faucets with foam insulators.
- Protect water pipes that pass through unheated areas of your home such as the attic, basement, or garage, with insulation.
- Pro Tip: Identify where the valve that shuts off water is located in case of an emergency. Usually, it’s located in the basement or buried beside the road.
6. Check the Heat
Ensuring you stay warm all winter is best done before the weather gets too cold. Inspect your furnace by turning on the heat and the blower to verify that they’re in optimum working condition.
Replace your furnace filter at the start of the season and afterwards, every two to four months. Filters get dirty way faster if your home is dusty or if you’ve got furry pets. Clogged or dirty filters are less efficient, which means your home might not warm upright.
You should consider installing a programmable thermostat if you don’t have one already. Programming it to be cooler at night and when you’re not at home will save you money, and you can set it to be warmer for when you return from work or get up on cold winter mornings.
Pro Tip: Reverse the orientation of your ceiling fans. Everybody thinks of using fans in the summer, however, they can keep you warm in winter too. Set the blades to rotate clockwise. In this way, they will circulate warm air from the ceiling down into the room.
7. Seal Windows and Doors
Keeping your house warm in winter is made more difficult with openings around windows and doors. Apply to caulk around windows and fix weather stripping around doors as needed. This minor and cheap task can help you save big time on heating costs.
If your windows and doors are older, they may be single-pane windows or uninsulated doors which are not efficient. Consider upgrading to double- or even triple-pane windows and insulated doors to increase the energy efficiency of your home.
8. Inspect the Fireplace and Chimney
The glow and warmth of a fire on a winter evening are comforts to look forward to. However, before you light up that first log, be certain that your fireplace and chimney are clean. Clear out all critter as well.
A professional chimney sweep can clear out soot and other inflammable debris. Stop your home’s warm air from escaping out the chimney when not in use by keeping the flue closed all the way. You’d also be preventing cold air from coming down the chimney.
You could also set up a chimney inflatable that prevents cold air from coming down the chimney and keeps in warm air.
9. Prevent Ice Dams
Ice dams result when heat escapes via the roof and melts the snow that’s settled there. The snowmelt flows up to your roof’s edge before it refreezes, usually at the eaves. Those beautiful icicles can indicate an ugly ice dam underneath. The problem an ice dam brings is that snow that later melts can’t drain properly, but it has to go somewhere, and that might be through a leak in your roof, causing damage to your home.
Fortunately, a few simple steps before the winter comes can go a long way in avoiding all these:
- Clogged gutters and downspouts are the primary cause of ice dams. Clear them out to keep water flowing in the winter.
- Seal places that may allow warm air to radiate from your home to your attics, such as around light fixtures, vent pipes, exhaust fans, and chimneys.
- Ensure that soffit vents, which lie along the eaves of the house allowing the influx of air into the attic, are clear.
- If you’ve had problems in the past with ice dams or have reason to think you might this year, you should take these additional steps:
- Fix snow and ice slides to prevent the “bonding” of ice and snow to your roof.
- Attach rubberized ice and water shield underneath the roof shingles, about three to six feet away from the eaves.
- Hire a roofer to set up heat cables along the eaves to melt ice.
- Add extra insulation to your attic floor.
10. Seal your masonry and hard surfaces
You should pay attention to your patio as well. If you have a concrete patio, driveways or walkways, ensure they’re secured as well. You should apply a concrete sealer to all of your flat exterior concrete surfaces. It is inevitable for concrete flatwork to eventually develop cracks. Good masons, however, strategically place control joints in your concrete to ensure that cracking is limited. Take out time to check your concrete and fill in any cracks before you apply a sealant so that water does not get in and freeze up over the winter. This will ensure that your pricey concrete work lasts a very long time.
11. Clean and Store Lawn Equipment
After a summer of yard work, gas-powered equipment such as mowers, trimmers, tillers, and chippers can all do with some servicing before being stowed away for the winter. This basic checklist will help you get started on equipment maintenance. However, you should also check the owner’s manual for any specific instructions for your machines.
- Dispose of all fuel. Gas degrades all the time, and the ethanol in E10 gas can damage fuel pipes and other components if left unused.
- Try to exhaust most of the fuel during the last mowing session of the season. You can extract what remains with a meat baster, then run the engines until they stop.
- You could also inquire from your local waste management department for guidance on how to dispose of the fuel.
- Clean off oil and yard debris from the machine, and sharpen the blades.
- Stow them away in a basement, garage, or covered storage shed where they’re safe from the winter weather.
12. Call in an arborist.
Many winter tree accidents are avoidable. Get a professional arborist to inspect your yard with you in search of rotting trees or damaged branches that may come crashing down in the next bad weather.
Before all of the leaves drop, look to see if the trees are still healthy, especially trees those that could crash onto your home or a neighbor’s home.
Note: A dying tree is not always obvious to an onlooker. You might not notice one, especially if you have a lot of trees.
Fall isn’t the best time to trim your trees, but if there are branches up against your house, it’s a good idea to prune them before winter to avoid ice-coated branches pressing against your siding or windows.
13. Check your home’s heating and air conditioning system
The life span for most heating and air systems is usually for 12 to 15 years. However, while some systems are pretty dead after 10 years, others keep performing efficiently for 20 years. This has a lot to do with how well they’re maintained.
Before the cold weather takes over, take this time to replace your filters, at the very least. We advise that you have the system inspected by a professional HVAC contractor. Even better, look out for a yearly maintenance agreement. Get the contractor to check your system and ensure your heat is going to function properly when you need it to. It’s much better to discover an HVAC issue in the moderate temperatures of fall than it is to discover a fault in your furnace on a cold winter morning.
14. Prepare your lawn for winter and set it up for a great spring
A beautiful spring lawn results from the attention you give it during fall. New grass does not grow when it’s either too hot or too cold. For you to grow new grass, you only have September and October, and then April and May to do so. If you miss the fall, then you’ve cut your preparation time in half. There are differing thoughts on when you should overseed. Fall is, however, preferable. Once the heat breaks, your lawn can get some great growing time. So, around late September, aerate the lawn and overseed it. Then, about late October or November, Apply winterized fertilizer.
15. Get Rid of Critters From Your Attic
It’s bound to get cold outdoors and your attic is the perfect getaway for squirrels and birds. These critters have to be eradicated, as they can cause a lot of damage and also some health problems. To do this, ensure your trees are trimmed far from the house and confirm that your gable vents are intact. It’s a good idea to place a screen up behind your gable vent just in case. Also, walk around the perimeter of your home and observe your soffit and fascia. Ensure that there are no openings that will allow birds in.
For most, winter is the most dreaded time of the year due to all the troubles it brings along. These tips will ensure that you’re prepared and can set your home for the winter such that you won’t be taken unawares by foul weather.
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