Even though winter doesn’t begin until days before Christmas, now is the time to winterize your home. Some of these tips will help you avoid costly repairs, some will add relief to your utility bills, and others are just good tips.
I recommend printing this email and checking off the items as you go.
If you are in the DMV area and need a recommendation for a contractor/contractors, please reach out to me. Happy to help.
Enjoy the weekend!
Avoid the costly repairs
Turn Off Exterior Faucets: Undrained water in pipes can freeze, which will cause pipes to burst as the ice expands. Turn off the shut-off valves inside your home. Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining the water that remains in faucets.
Hit the Roof: Or at least scan it closely with binoculars. Look for damaged, loose or missing shingles that may leak during winter’s storms or from melting snow. If need be, hire a handyman to repair a few shingles. Check and repair breaks in the flashing seals around vent stacks and chimneys, too.
Clean the Gutters: If your gutters are full of debris, water can back up against the house and damage roofing, siding and wood trim — plus cause leaks and ice dams.Also look for missing or damaged gutters and fascia boards and repair them.
Prevent Ice Dams: A home-energy auditor or weatherization contractor can identify and fix air leaks and inadequate insulation in your home’s attic that can lead to ice dams.
Divert Water: Add extensions to downspouts so that water runs at least 3 to 4 feet away from the foundation.
Test your sump pump: Slowly pour several gallons of water into the sump pit to see whether the pump turns on. You should do this every few months, but especially after a long dry season or before a rainy one.
Save on utility costs
Reverse your ceiling fans: If your ceiling fan has a reverse switch, use it to run the fan’s blades in a clockwise direction after you turn on your heat. Energy Star says the fan will produce an updraft and push down into the room heated air from the ceiling (remember, hot air rises).
Tune Up Your Heating System: For about $80 to $100, a technician will inspect your furnace or heat pump to be sure the system is clean and in good repair, and that it can achieve its manufacturer-rated efficiency. The inspection also measures carbon-monoxide leakage.
Caulk Around Windows and Doors: if the gaps between siding and window or door frames are bigger than the width of a nickel, you need to reapply exterior caulk. (Check the joints in window and door frames, too.) Silicone caulk is best for exterior use because it won’t shrink and it’s impervious to the elements. Add weatherstripping as needed around doors, making sure you cannot see any daylight from inside your home.
Call a Chimney Sweep: Before you burn the Yule log, make sure your fireplace (or any heating appliance burning gas, oil, wood or coal), chimney and vents are clean and in good repair. That will prevent chimney fires and prevent carbon monoxide from creeping into your home.
Drain Your Lawn-Irrigation System: But call in a professional to do the job. Your sprinkler service will charge $50 to $150, depending on the size of the system. Draining sprinkler-system pipes, as with spigots, will help avoid freezing and leaks.
Prepare to Stow Your Mower: As the mower sits through the winter, fuel remaining in its engine will decompose, “varnishing” the carburetor and causing difficulty when you try to start the engine in the spring. John Deere offers these preventive steps: If you’ve added stabilizer to your fuel to keep it fresh longer, then fill the gas tank to the top with more stabilized fuel and run the engine briefly to allow it to circulate. If not, wait until the tank is nearly empty from use and run the engine (outdoors) to use up the remaining fuel. Check your mower’s manual for other cold-weather storage steps.
Don’t Prune Trees or Shrubs Until Late-Winter: You may be tempted to get out the pruning shears after the leaves fall, when you can first see the underlying structure of the plant. But horticulturalists advise waiting to prune until late winter for most plants, when they’ve been long dormant and just before spring growth begins.