Preparing Your Home For Winter

winter-670314_1280As we head into October and the days get shorter and colder it’s a good idea for homeowners to spend some time preparing their homes for the inevitable seasonal changes to come. Here are some practical suggestions I think will save you money and time over the next 6-8 months!

  1. Water left in exterior pipes can freeze, which can cause pipes to burst as ice expands. Ensure all garden hoses are removed and drain them before storing. Homes more than 15-years-old typically do not have frost proof exterior faucets, which makes it important to drain exterior faucets after turning off the water supply inside your house as well.
  2. Store or cover outdoor furniture such as tables, chairs, hammocks, and umbrellas to prevent them being damaged during winter. Drain any water fountains, unplug the pumps and store delicate garden ornaments.
  3. Enclose any vents or openings that may allow rodents to enter your house, as they will be looking for warm places to spend their winter too.
  4. Instead of raking I prefer to mow my leaves and grass mid-September (prior to any snow or wet autumn weather) and leave the small clippings to decompose and nourish my lawn over the winter. It saves me a lot of time and produces a healthy lawn in the spring. To do this I use my mower without its bag and typically swap the cutting blade for a mulching blade.
  5. Drain the gas from your lawn mower or just let the mower run until it is out of gas prior to storing. As the mower sits through the winter, fuel remaining in its engine will decompose, causing difficulty when you try to start the engine in the spring.
  6. You may be tempted to prune your trees and shrubs as soon as the leaves fall and you can see their uneven underlying structure. However, I have been advised it is good practice to wait until late winter for most plants, when they’ve been long dormant. To get advice specific to your landscaping local nurseries can be extremely helpful.
  7. Ensure your gutters are undamaged and clear of debris to prevent damaging leaks and ice build up. Add extensions to downspouts so that water runs at least 3 to 4 feet away from your home’s foundation.
  8. If you have an air conditioner unit have it professionally serviced for winter. Otherwise, its important to ensure it is shut down and protected with an air conditioner cover to extend the life and efficiency of your unit. If you have a window air conditioner remove and store it for the winter. If you can’t remove it then close the vents and ensure a cover also protects it.
  9. Ensure outdoor lighting is in good working order and energy efficient.
  10. Don’t wait for the first winter storm to restock cold weather essentials, such as, salt or ice melt. Tune up your snow blower, and invest in a good snow shovel. Also have a ready supply of window washer fluid.
  11. Make sure your furnace is running properly and change your air filter regularly. Clear any obstacles in and around the heating vents so warm air can freely flow.
  12. If you have ceiling fans run the fan’s blades in a clockwise direction. Hot air rises and this should produce an updraft, which should push down warm air. This is especially helpful in homes with high ceilings and it might even allow you to turn down your thermostat by a degree or two for greater energy savings.
  13. Use waterproof caulking or weather stripping to block gaps in doors and windows and keep the heat inside where it belongs.
  14. Check your roof and attic and insulate to prevent ice damming or leaks. If your home had icicles last winter take early steps to prevent potential damage this year.
  15. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace them if they are more than 10-years-old. Fires are more likely to happen in winter, due to faulty heating and careless use of fireplaces and candles. Deadly gas can build up inside if heating systems are defective or when using inappropriate heating methods.

What other steps do you take to winterize your home?  Please share in the comments below.

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