Preparing Your Home For Colder Weather

As summer starts to wind down and the temps get cooler, you need to start thinking about preparing your home for the Fall and Winter months – I know that may be an ugly thought for some; however, in the words of M.J. RossNo matter how gloomy life gets, there will always be sunshine again.”  Below is our checklist to help you with these year-end tasks:

  1. Ready the heating system– Don’t wait until it’s too cold outside! With today’s high efficiency heating products, it’s more important than ever to maintain your equipment to maximize your fuel dollars spent. A routine preseason furnace tune-up can help prevent an unexpected breakdown this winter. It is very common for a furnace to experience air flow problems, dirty or clogged filters, ignition control issues and thermostat malfunctions over time. Furnaces with cracked heat exchangers could potentially be emitting carbon monoxide. As a result you could experience poor comfort, increased energy costs, unexpected repair expenses or even exposure to dangerous carbon monoxide.
  2. Turn Off Your Air Conditioner– Make sure your turn the air conditioner breaker off at the main breaker box when you have used it for the last time. Probably around this time of year with the last few days of warmer weather.
  3. Testing Smoke Detectors and Fire Alarms– With the approaching holidays we will be trimming trees, decking the halls, baking and cooking for the family and relatives. It is a great time to check all of the safety items around your household. Change out all of your smoke detector batteries, and test them all to make sure they work; do the same with your radon and carbon monoxide detectors.  Inspect all of your fire extinguishers, and make sure they are functional as well. Replace any burned out light bulbs around your house, particularly on staircases and entryways. Additionally, make sure your candles and flashlights are handy so you’re ready for outages if and when the storms knock out your power.
  4. Sealing your home against the weather– There is a lot to say on this topic, especially if you live in a climate that sees cold temperatures. The United States Department of Energy has great information that explains all you need to know and what to look for on their page Air Sealing Your Home. You’ll definitely want to check it out.
  5. Prepare outside water lines & faucets – Water lines exposed to the outside temperatures, including sprinkler systems and exterior faucets, can freeze. Freezing water expands and can crack pipes and hose bibs which can be expensive to repair. Make sure the water lines are turned off inside the home and that spigots are open to drain excess water.  It is a good idea to continually check the spigots for leaking as can be a sign that something needs to be replaced.
  6. Lawn mower care– Your lawn mower should be winterized for storage. Check out what the pros over at Popular Mechanics had to say about how to Winterize your Lawn Mower.
  7. Don’t forget the snow blower– If you are fortunate to have this piece of equipment you will want to make sure it is ready when the snow flies. That means it needs to start.  You should check the oil level, inflate the tires, lubricate the machine per owner’s manual, and make sure that everything is working.
  8. Outdoor furniture – Just because it’s outdoor furniture doesn’t mean you should leave it out all year round. The furniture should be given a good cleaning with dish soap and hot water and stored inside if at all possible. If you don’t have inside storage, a garage or shed would be the next best thing.  Plastic can become brittle and break, metal rusts, and wood splits. If no inside option is available, at least make sure it is securely covered with a heavy tarp to protect it from the elements.
  9. Ceiling fans– Did you know that most ceiling fans have a reverse switch? With a flip of a switch you could save as much as 10% on your heating bill. Reversing the direction of the fan blades pushes the warmer air down from the ceiling.  With warmer air being circulated you could also then turn down your thermostat a degree or two and save even more.
  10. Clean those gutters! – Gutters become full of debris and leaves allowing water to back up against the house causing damage to roofing, siding, and trim. It also causes ice dams to form. While cleaning out the gutters make sure to look for damaged gutters and fascia boards as those will need to be repaired.
  11. Pruning trees and shrubs – Don’t be tempted to start pruning as soon as the leaves are off the trees.  Many experts advise waiting until late winter, after the coldest months have passed as this results in a vigorous burst of new growth in the spring.
  12. Lawn care – Fall is a great time to aerate your lawn. Aerating helps to allow moisture and nutrients to get down to the roots. You should also fertilize and spread cool-season grass seed such as fescue and rye. Seeding now gives them time to take hold and form a root system before temperatures drop below freezing.