As the seasons change, moving away from the summer heat to the winter cold, there are a few chores you'll want to do to prepare your home for winter. These aren’t major projects — just a few quick, annual tasks that will help lower your energy bills and reduce the chance for any unpleasant surprises.
Give the exterior of your home a thorough inspection. Pay particular attention to any loose or missing shingles on the roof. Also, examine the siding, windows, and doors for any damage. Remove any piles of wood, leaves, or debris that may have accumulated near your house or shed — this can help prevent rot and deter critters from taking up residence.
Anything that you won’t be using over the winter should be brought indoors for storage. If you don’t have room or if moving something is impossible, at the very least, you’ll need to take measures to protect the exposed items from the elements.
Any tool or piece of equipment that won't be used for months at a time should be prepped for storage following the instructions in the user manual. If you have fuel that will be sitting, be sure to treat it with a fuel stabilizer so it doesn't deteriorate and cause any problems to your expensive equipment over the winter.
If your home is more than a decade old, you probably don’t have frost-proof spigots. To help prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting, shut off and drain all outside faucets. Don't forget to close up your pool and sprinkler system as well. And while you’re thinking about water, now would be a good time to insulate any pipes in your crawlspace or attic. The easiest way to do this is to slip a pre-slit foam tube around any at-risk pipes.
Don't wait for that first substantial snowfall — give your snow blower a tune-up and a test run before you actually have to use it. If you need a refresher, pull out the owner's manual and give it a thorough read. Rereading the owner's manual is a good annual practice because it also reinforces your grasp of all safety guidelines as well.
When your gutters are clogged with debris, they stop working. Rain will need to find alternate routes off of your roof, and these alternate routes can cause damage to your walls and foundation.
The debris can also be inviting to pests and vermin and create additional weight that may eventually bring your gutters crashing down. Instead of risking all that, grab a ladder and a gutter scoop and clean out your gutters (after the leaves have stopped falling, of course).
Not only can winter storms produce strong winds, but wet snow is heavy. If there are any dead branches on the trees near your house, they can break off during a winter storm and cause property damage. Even if the limbs are healthy, any branch that extends close to your roof will provide a quick and easy access route for any critters that are looking to take refuge in your attic during the colder months.
Don't wait until the first night that drops below freezing to stock up on firewood. Look for seasoned (dry) wood that hasn’t been treated, stained, painted, or manufactured in any way, as these types of wood can release toxic gasses when burned. Harder, denser wood, such as oak or maple, is best for an indoor fireplace.
While it might be challenging to check for drafts before the air gets too chilly, you can do a search for spiderwebs. Spiders tend to build webs in drafty areas to catch more food. Inspect any area where you find a spiderweb to see if you can detect any airflow. If you find trouble spots, now is the time to repair them. It’s also a good idea to purchase a few draft stoppers to halt any air that’s sneaking out (or in) beneath your doors.
In the summer, you want your ceiling fans spinning so the air blows down to cool you off. When the winter comes, you'll want to reverse the direction of the blades so the air is pulled upwards. This is usually accomplished by simply moving the little toggle switch (located on the fan's base) to the opposite side.
To ensure optimum performance (and the lowest energy bill), every two to three months you should be replacing the filter in your heater. A dirty furnace filter hampers airflow and can make your furnace work harder than it should. Since this is a task that most of us neglect, it’s important to make sure you swap out that filter.
Speaking of neglected tasks, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are life-saving devices that need to be tested. While you’re walking through your home turning all of your clocks back, take a few extra seconds to also test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they’re functioning properly.
A properly used smart thermostat can pay for itself in just one or two years. You can take full control of your energy bill, even when you’re sleeping, with one of these handy, money-saving devices.
Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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