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Prepare your home for winter

Earlier in the day we posted on our facebook a reminder to winterize outdoor pipes before the cold really sets in.

But there is so much more to do besides the pipes.

Here are couple more tips. It’s a long list, but it is also a long winter. You want to make sure you can do as much preventative maintenance as possible so you aren’t outside in negative temperatures trying to fix things!

Windows and doors

  • Check for drafts around windows and doors. Look at the weatherstripping and caulk inside and out, when necessary, or replace weatherstripping.
  • Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay. Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity.
  • Inspect windows for cracks, broken glass, or gaps. Repair or replace, if needed.

Lawn,  garden, and deck

  • Check drainage: Make sure rain and snow drains away from the house to avoid foundation problems. The dirt should slope away from your home.
  • Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires to prevent iced-over or wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem
  • Move patio furniture indoors or cover well. Clean and dry it first so you don’t have to do that in the spring.
  • Clean soil from planters. Bring pots made of clay or other fragile materials indoors. Because terra cotta pots can swell and crack, lay them on their sides in a wood carton.
  • Dig up flower bulbs, brush off soil, and label. Store bulbs in a bag or box with peat moss in a cool, dry place for spring replanting.
  • Remove any attached hoses and store them away for the winter to prevent cracks, preserve their shapes, and prolong their life. Wrap outside faucets with covers to prevent water damage.
  • Shut off exterior faucets. Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to protect against pipe bursts.
  • Clean leaves, dirt, and pine needles between the boards of wooden decks to thwart mold and mildew growth.
  • Check handrails on exterior stairs to make sure they’re well secured.

Tools and machinery

  • Bring all seasonal tools inside.
  • Move your snow blower and shovels to the front of the garage or shed for easy access.
  • Prepare the snow blower for the first snowfall by changing the oil and replacing the spark plug.
  • Make sure you have an ample supply of ice melt or sand on hand for steps, walkways, and the driveway.

Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Gutters, roof, and drains

  • Check for missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace, as necessary before you get stuck with a leak.
  • 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.
  • Clean leaves and debris from courtyard and pool storm drains to prevent blockages.
  • Ensure all vents and openings are covered to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from getting inside to nest in a warm place.

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