Winter | Home PreperationDate: November 19, 2018
These steps of preparation will get your home ready for the cold winter months ahead.
You may have taken your to-do list up to the cabin and checked off all the items needed to prepare the cabin for the long winter months but that doesn’t mean you are out of the woods yet (pun intended). Now that you are home and in the comforts of the city life, you need to do some preparation to your year-round home for the upcoming winter months. Although your home may be more prepared than your cabin for the tougher winter weather, there are still some valuable steps and things to account for that will save you time, money and comfort.
Windows and Doors
Whether you have brand new windows and doors or old and outdated ones like me, it is important to take a look at all of your windows and doors to make sure all borders are closed and blocking any kind of drafts. As the seasons and temperatures change so do the materials that hold your home together. This can cause cracking or gaps to appear, even in areas recently repaired or remodeled, so take some time to make sure the following are all checked.
- Check all the weatherstripping around windows and doorframes for leaks to prevent heat loss. Replace weatherstripping, if necessary.
- Replace all screen doors with storm doors.
- Replace all window screens with storm windows.
- Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay.
- Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity.
- Check for drafts around windows and doors.
- Caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping.
- Inspect windows for cracks, broken glass, or gaps. Repair or replace, if needed.
Heating, Venting & Cooling + Chimney & Fireplace
Second on the list but certainly not any less important would be to check your HVAC and Fireplace for all the upcoming heating needs and keeping the cold air out. Some items on this list can easily be done on your own but if any item seems out of your comfort zone please contact a professional to ensure you are fully prepared and safe for the upcoming cold season.
- Inspect the firebox and flue system to ensure that they’re clean of any soot or creosote and that there aren’t any cracks or voids that could cause a fire hazard.
- Check fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may be warped, worn, or rusted. Consider installing a Chimney Balloon into the flue to air seal the area tightly.
- Check to make sure the chimney is clear of any nests from birds, squirrels or other small animals.
- Check flue damper operation. Make sure it opens and closes fully, and that it is can be locked in the open or closed position.
- Check chimney draft. Make sure the chimney will draw up the fire and smoke properly. Test this by taking several sheets of newspaper and rolling them up. Then with the fireplace damper in the open position, light the newspaper in the fireplace. The smoke should rise up the chimney. If it doesn’t, you have an obstruction and need to call a professional in to clean the chimney of creosote and ash and possible debris.
- If it has been several years (or never) since you had your fireplace chimney cleaned, you should have it done by a professional chimney sweep. Definitely not a fun DIY project.
- Inspect the firebrick in the fireplace. If you see any open mortar joints, have them repaired immediately A fire can spread into the stud wall behind the masonry firebrick through open mortar joints.
- Clean or replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum efficiency and improved indoor air quality.
- Clean your whole house humidifier and replace the evaporator pad.
- Bleed valves on any hot-water radiators to increase heating efficiency by releasing air that may be trapped inside.
- Check that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
- Remove air conditioners from windows or cover them with insulated liners, to prevent drafts.
- If you have an older thermostat, replace it with a programmable unit to save on heating costs.
- Install foam-insulating sheets behind outlets and switch plates on exterior walls to reduce outside airflow.
- Make sure fans are switched to the reverse or clockwise position, which will blow warm air down to the floor for enhanced energy efficiency and comfort.
- Flush a hot water heater tank to remove sediment, and check the pressure relief valve to make sure it’s in proper working order.
- Examine exposed ducts in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces, and use a sealant to plug up any leaks.
Gutters, Roof and Drain
These items may not seem that important now but simple steps taken prior to the winter freeze will make your Spring time clean up far more simple and help prevent unexpected foundation, roofing or gutter damage.
- Check for missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace, as necessary before you get stuck with a leak.
- Check for deteriorated flashing at the chimney, walls, and skylights and around vent pipes. Seal joints where water could penetrate, using roofing cement and a caulking gun.
- Check the gutters and downspouts for proper fastening, and re-secure if loose or sagging. The weight of snow and ice can pull gutters off the house.
- Clean gutters of any debris. Make sure downspouts extend away from the house by at least 5 feet to prevent flooding of the foundation and water damage from snowmelt.
- Ensure all vents and openings are covered to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from getting inside to nest in a warm place.
Protecting the Pipes
Freezing water can cause expensive damage to your pipework so make certain you have done all possible to make sure they are insulated, sheltered or drained fully to prevent any damage.
- If you have any exposed water or drain piping in uninsulated spaces, such as in a crawlspace, attic, outside walls, etc., make sure to insulate them with foam insulation at a minimum. Ideally, you should wrap them with electrical heating tape first, then insulate them.
- The exterior faucet needs to have its water supply turned off inside the house, and you also need to drain water from it by opening up the exterior faucet. You may also want to consider an insulated cover for the hose bibb. And remember to disconnect your garden hoses from the sillcocks or outside faucets, and drain them if you store them outside.
Avoid Unwanted Visitors
No, I am not talking about your Uncle that comes over for the Holidays and falls asleep on your couch.
- Take a tour around your home both inside and out. Inspect every nook and cranny to assure that they are sealed. We are not the only the ones that seek refuge from the cold and word travels fast when unexpected house guests find a vacancy.
Let us do the work!
There is a lot to check off of this list when you are faced with prepping your home for the upcoming months. If it seems a bit too much for you or you don’t have the necessary tools for the work or if you simply want to save your free time for other options, contact Lake Country Builders and our experienced Customer Care team will stop by to get everything off your list!