As we say farewell to summer and welcome fall, it’s a great time to start preparing your home for winter. As temperatures drop, your home requires some simple maintenance to keep it in good shape. Here are a few easy ways compiled by the Griffin & Company team to protect your home through the cold months:
1. Inspect the heating system. Call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace or heat pump and clean the ducts. Consider exchanging your thermostat for an energy-saving programmable model; they are easy to install and cost $35 to $250. A programmable thermostat can be set at more economical temperatures when you are asleep or away to help significantly reduce your energy bill. Also, you’ll want to change the filters monthly because they can become clogged with dust, which makes it harder for your furnace or heat pump to operate efficiently — and that means your energy bill goes up!
2. Ready the fireplace. Rodents and birds would like a cozy place to stay warm and dry, so cap or screen the top of your chimney to keep them out. If you use your wood-burning fireplace and your chimney hasn’t been cleaned in years, call a chimney sweep to get rid of the hazardous soot. Also, make sure your fireplace damper opens and shuts properly by looking up through the chimney using a mirror and a flashlight. Lastly, have cracks in the chimney repaired to prevent flames from coming through them.
3. Inspect for cracks. Look for cracks and exposed entry points around pipes and seal them. Replace cracking weather stripping around doors and windows, and caulk around windows to prevent cold air from entering your home. Consider adding extra insulation to the attic to prevent warm air from seeping out.
Also, clean out the gutters and use a hose to spray water through the downspout to clear any debris. You may want to install a leaf guard over your gutters, which should block out most of the debris year round.
4. Prepare landscape and outdoor surfaces. Find all outside water lines and turn them off. If you’re not familiar with where they are located, ask your plumber for help. Make sure to drain water out of hoses and store them indoors.
While preparing for winter, you can also get a head start on spring. Aerating your lawn allows the grass to drink up more water. If seeding is needed, do the task while temperatures are still warm, typically mid-August to mid-October depending on where you live. You may want to plant bulbs that will bloom in the spring, and the best planting days are when evening temperatures average 40 to 50 degrees. Ask a gardener what types of flowering bulbs are best suited for your region.
5. Prepare your deck. Clean your deck thoroughly. Be sure to remove all dirt, mildew, rust stains and other debris that has accumulated on the surface. After your deck has been cleaned, strip away any deteriorating finish and reapply water repellant to prevent cracks and warping.
6. Compile an emergency kit. Lastly, it’s a good idea to have an emergency kit on hand with items like indoor candles, matches, lighters, batteries and flashlights in case of power outages. Also store away extra bottles of water and nonperishable foods (including pet food), blankets and first-aid items.