Winter is coming—and with it, the freezing conditions that can induce nightmares in an unprepared homeowner.
It may seem like your home and yard can take care of themselves, but instead of hoping for the best, it’s a good idea to review your home’s needs before the temperature drops in earnest. From basic cleaning to in-depth prevention tactics, there are a few things you’ll need to do to help safeguard your home this winter.
Roll up your sleeves and get ready for yard work and maintenance! Here’s what you should do to get your home ready.
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Clear Gutters and Downspouts
If you’re going to prevent the ice dams that could damage your roof during this winter season, you’ll need to invest some time in a thorough cleaning of your gutters and downspouts. With clear drainage, you won’t have to work so hard to monitor the buildup of icicles in the cold winter months. If you dread this common home maintenance task, consider springing for some quality gutter guards after you’re done to keep your system free of debris.
Check Your Attic
Without proper care, your attic could release great amounts of your home’s heat, leading to hefty utility bills as you struggle to keep your family warm. If you find yourself in need of extra insulation, check out the Department of Energy’s insulation fact sheet for recommendations by ZIP code and climate. You’ll also want to make sure that the area is well-ventilated and that the vents themselves allow enough airflow.
Seal Cracks in Your Home
Grab some caulk and take a trip around your home to check for any obvious drafty spaces, especially in unheated basements, attics, and crawl spaces. Don’t forget to add caulk to the area around your door mail chute as well as any openings around a wall or window ACs and holes for plumbing or wires.
You can also grab a draft guard for your door from a home improvement store, or make one yourself, to prevent warm air from escaping under it.
Insulate Your Windows
Weatherstrip tape is a great way to winterize your windows, as it allows you to seal up any openings between the pane and the frame. If you’d like to take things a step further, opt to lay down some window insulation film to prevent more heat from escaping outside.
Get Seasonal HVAC Maintenance
Your HVAC system will be working at its hardest throughout winter’s cold snaps, so it’s important to make sure it’s in good condition before your family has to rely on it. You should have your unit inspected by a professional twice a year—once in the spring and once in the fall—so if you’re a little behind, now’s the time to make the call.
Even if you’ve already had a professional inspection done, you should do your own regular system maintenance. Change your filter every 1-6 months, depending on your system and your family’s needs, in order to help your HVAC work as effectively as possible. Perform any cleaning your manufacturer recommends, and update your thermostat’s programming for the winter months.
Check Your Plumbing
To prevent the nightmare of frozen pipes, check your plumbing’s insulation well before a cold snap. This may mean adding more insulation to unheated areas or investing in automatic heat cables to warm your pipes.
In addition, if you haven’t performed annual flushing of your water heater, now is a good time to do so. This seasonal task keeps sediment from building inside the tank, meaning your heater won’t have to work as hard to warm your household’s water.
Perform Yard Work to Prevent Winter Pests
During the harsh winter season, your warm home will seem inviting to any neighboring pests. As you work to winterize your home, it’s important to take steps to make your property less attractive to some common household nuisances.
Some of the work you’ve done earlier is already a step in the right direction. Cleaning out your gutters, for example, is a great way to eradicate habitat for unwanted insects and even rodents. However, there are a few additional things to do:
- Cut back dead plants around your house, as these can attract pests and bugs
- Use a weather-resistant sealant on your home’s foundations
- Keep firewood away from your home, as many insects nest in dry wood
- Contact pest services to eliminate any standing insect nests
- Seal crawl spaces, attic vents, and basement pipes
As you take care of these things, don’t forget that some pests are good for the household, like spiders that kill off other unwanted bugs. If you have more harmful varieties, like the brown recluse, click here to learn how to get rid of them: https://www.altuspest.com/pest-control/spider/brown-recluse-spider/
Winterize Your Walkways
Before the season’s heaviest snows, make sure you have a snow shovel on hand, as well as salt, sand, or calcium chloride to reduce the risk of slip-and-fall accidents. You may also want to consider snow-melting mats for high-traffic areas around the home.
Prepare Your Fireplace
Before you start tossing firewood into your fireplace, take care of your seasonal chimney and fireplace maintenance. Clean any old ashes from the area, remove debris from your roof, and check to ensure that your smoke alarms are working.
Plan Ahead This Winter
When it comes to winterizing your home, the yard work, cleaning, and maintenance tasks you need to do can be a significant time investment. However, with a little elbow grease and the occasional professional help, you can enjoy your cozy nights by the fire without worrying that the winter will wreak havoc on your home.
Need more tips to keep your home in top shape this winter and beyond? Check out our other posts.