Winter is approaching, and it’s time to start preparing your home for the cold weather. Winterizing your home saves money on your heating bills and makes your environment more livable. If your heating system is out-of-date, your plumbing breaks or your windows are poorly insulated, your heating costs will skyrocket. Getting ready for winter is a snap and can be completed over a weekend with the right supplies. Here are nine tips to help you protect your property and save money for years to come.
One of the most obvious yet important things to take care of is your pipes. Start by draining the water from all your outdoor garden hoses and faucets. Arrange to have any in-ground sprinkler pipes blown out if necessary and store garden hoses inside. Inspect all of your pipes in the house to ensure there aren’t any problems that can lead to freezing. Wrap any exposed pipes with insulation. You can find fiberglass or foam rubber sleeves for pipes at your local hardware store and they are easy to install. Use caulk for holes or cracks in the walls to prevent cold air from pipes. It’s a good idea to use heat tape around the pipes to keep them warm if you live in frigid climates.
Make sure the whole family is educated on how to turn off the water at the source, which will minimize leakage if a pipe bursts. Keep your heat running even when you’re not at home to help prevent the pipes from freezing. When all else fails, and your pipes do freeze with no water flow, call a plumber immediately.
The winter season is well on its way. Taking care of your driveway before spring is crucial to making your spring lawn care more manageable. Driveway cleaning during winter can help your spring prepwork go smoothly. It’s critical to do so before the arrival of the winter months because cleaning beforehand can simplify your springtime duties significantly. It can’t hurt to give your concrete a lovely wintertime appearance either.
Check for cracks and seal them before they get worse when the snow hits. When the ice and snow thaws, water runoff will leak through your driveway. The type of ice melt you use will make a big difference. Stick with ones that are calcium-based which do very little to no damage compared to ice melts with chemicals in them. Keep your driveway clean and clear away ice once the snow hits. Power wash your driveway to remove leaves, sticks, and rocks, which can cause your concrete to deteriorate. Grit and oil can also ruin your concrete when snow packs on top of it. Check your shovels for wear and replace them as needed. You will also want to tune up the snow blowers before the winter. Chipped shovels can damage your driveways if they get caught in a crack.
Get Rid of Issues In Your Yard
Strumps, dead trees, and more can cause major problems for you in spring if you just leave them through winter. Stump grinding and stump removal are key for a healthy yard. Identify potential problems and address them before you finish up for the winter. Fill in holes, use mulch, and clean up after fixing up your property. Remember, it could mean the difference between having a great yard and having major structural issues.
Clean the Gutters
Living in an area that sees regular rainfall for months will take a toll on your home’s gutter system. Rain and melted snow can cause damage and leaks to your gutters and lead to severe problems with your home’s foundation if left unattended. Clear the drains of twigs, leaves, and caked-on dirt, then run water through the downpipes. Using snow guards are an excellent way to prevent sheets of ice and piles of snow from sliding off the roof. Check your gutter for corrosion or rust, and inspect your downspouts for damage, proper drainage, and clogs. Gutters must be cleaned regularly, or they won’t carry water away from the eaves of your home and cause dry rot.
Dry rot is expensive to repair and weakens wood, causing it to disintegrate. You should clean your gutters in dry weather before the winter time. Leaves are the typical cause of debris and may need to be removed multiple times during the fall. If there are any cracks, seal them with a strong adhesive or sealant. Steel gutters with exposed metal need to be replaced quickly, as they tend to rust faster. Consider professionally installed home gutter systems to guard against clogging and reinforce your home’s gutters against heavy rainfall.
Evaluate Your Roof
While cleaning your gutters, evaluate your roof for ice dams. In the winter, the heat that escapes from your home can re-freeze or melt ice and snow on your roof, creating ice dams. These ice dams let ice and water build up on your roof, blocking off drains and weakening your roof. To prevent ice dams, insulate your attic to prevent excessive heat transfer from your living areas to your attic. Check light fixtures, pipes and vents, and chimney systems for poor insulation. You would need to hire a professional contractor if your attic wasn’t built with a ventilation system. Purchase a roof rake to prevent snow build-up. While a roof can handle up to four feet of snow, if a snowstorm persists, it will cause it to collapse. It’s an inexpensive investment that will protect your home during those cold blizzard months.
Stock up on the Basics
Before the winter hits, stock up on batteries, food, flashlights, and other basic supplies to keep you comfortable in your home. Strong storms may cause power outages and blackouts for days that will wreak havoc on your home. Some of the most crucial items to stock up on include:
- Bottled water
- Ready-to-eat canned food
- High energy foods
- Instant coffee
- Pet food
For important paperwork, use a waterproof bag that’s brightly colored, so you can find it a little more easily in the dark. You can find these types of packets at a diving equipment shop or use gallon-sized ziplock bags. Essential items to keep in these bags include driver’s licenses, insurance policies, bank account information, debit cards, and extra keys. Be realistic and only pack what’s crucial for surviving a storm. Create an emergency kit that contains necessities for your pets such as medicine, a collar and leash, food, and water. You should create a supply kit with items that are good to have for at least two weeks including ice, plastic garbage bags, disposable utensils, plates and cups, cleaning supplies, small tools, detergent, toiletries, gloves, lanterns, and butane lighters.
Check Your Chimney
You’ll want to make sure your fireplace is ready to use all winter long. Hire an expert to inspect and clean your chimney before the first frost. Ask them to perform a routine check of your heating systems as well and vacuum other heating components and vents. Chimneys and fireplaces are responsible for over 40 percent of home-heating fires. The entire family should be educated on how to use the fireplace. Certified chimney sweeps will need to clean your chimney before you light your first fire of the season.
The area surrounding your fireplace must be kept clean as well. Keep combustibles that can ignite from high temperatures away from your fireplace. If you have a damper, make sure it opens and closes easily. Forgetting to close the damper will allow drafts to enter your home. Check the chimney and fireplace for any cracks or deterioration in the lining. Cracks in the chimney will eventually lead to damage and fires to your home.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
Once you’ve made sure your furnace is working correctly, you can efficiently control the heat that comes out of it. Having a programmable thermostat will help you avoid high heating costs throughout the winter. A smart device will run your heating system at various temperatures during the day. For example, while you’re out, set the heat to low and turn it up when you’re about to get home. The costs of a programmable thermostat are worth the lower monthly energy bill.
Seal the Leaks
Keeping drafts to a minimum is essential during the winter. Worn weatherstripping must be replaced around windows and doors. You should also use caulk to fill any gaps. If any ducts or pipes travel through an outside wall, use weatherstripping around every entry point. Inexpensive plastic window insulation film will seal windows during cold weather. Cover air conditioner window units or remove them, so they don’t accidentally emit cool air through the house. Draft blockers placed at the base of doors and windows will prevent warm air from leaking out. Go through the entire home and check for potential leak points. Seal around lights, utility penetrations, open framing, spaces in the attic, and plumbing.
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