As the year winds down and the air gradually gets colder, we’re reminded that it’s time to prepare our homes for the upcoming winter months. Granite Transformations has compiled a checklist of essential tips to guide you through a smooth transition to winter.
Clean Out Your Gutters: Once the autumn leaves have fallen, clean them and all other debris from your gutters either by hand, scraper or spatula, and then hose them out completely with a good rinse. Check for any leaks or misaligned pipes and make sure the downspouts are carrying water away from your foundation. Having clean gutters will allow winter rains and melting snow to drain freely and reduce the risk of the formation of ice dams, which can cause water to back up, freeze and seep into your house.
Keep Windows Airtight: The U.S. Department of Energy reports that 10 percent of the air that leaks out of a house is through the windows. To keep your windows airtight and save on your energy bill, be sure to caulk around window frames and apply weather stripping between the sash and window frame. For double-hung windows, tension seal and magnetic types of weather stripping are durable and will work well. And for casement and sliding windows, apply self-adhesive V-strip weather stripping to the side of window jambs or dry sashes. Storm windows are a great choice for reducing air leakage and increasing year-round energy efficiency. There are several options to choose from, but glass storm windows, although heavier, last longer than plastic and won’t scratch or yellow over time.
Test Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Replacing the batteries in both your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year is a safe way to ensure that your home and family are protected. It’s recommended for detectors which are between five and 10 years old be replaced with new ones, and that at least one smoke alarm is installed on every level of your house and one in (or near) each bedroom. The same applies for carbon monoxide detectors, but safety experts warn not to put them within 15 feet of gas appliances.
Have Your Furnace Inspected: Preparing your furnace for the winter months is an important way to keep your home heated efficiently and effectively. A professional will check the fan belt, vacuum dust and debris from the unit, and oil the bearings if necessary. As the homeowner, make sure you stock up on enough filters to get you through the winter months so that they can be changed monthly. Clogged filters will inhibit your furnace from operating efficiently and cause your energy bill to go up. Setting your thermostat at 68 degrees will also help save on energy costs, and if you don’t already have one, consider purchasing a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats allow you to set the perfect temperature for when you’re at home and also set it at a cooler temperature when you’re not. Programmable thermostats (when used properly), can save you up to $180 a year on energy costs.
Prevent Frozen Pipes: Wrapping each pipe in a blanket of foam insulation is a good way to minimize the possibility of water freezing in your pipes and causing them to burst. You can find these foam tubes in hardware stores. They have a slit on one side and can be cut to fit the length that is needed.
Weatherproof Seasonal Tools and Machinery: Protecting your valuable tools and outdoor machinery from the winter elements can save you money (and unpleasant surprises when the weather turns warmer). To prevent your seasonal tools from rusting, experts suggest bringing them indoors and spraying them with a lightweight coat of oil. Also, winterize your lawn mower by cleaning off mud, leaves, grass and debris. To get ready for snow, it’s a good idea to prepare your snow blower by changing the oil, replacing the spark plug, and moving the machine to the front of your garage or shed for easy access. For ice, make sure you sharpen your ice chopper and inspect your snow shovels to see if they can withstand another season of shoveling. It’s also a good idea to have a large supply of ice melt or sand on hand to use on steps, walkways and the driveway.
Check Roof for Holes: We aren’t the only ones looking to seek shelter from the winter cold. Unwelcome insects, birds, and rodents can find their way into your home if it’s not property protected. Check all vents and openings to make sure they are covered (and won’t be compromised by unwanted visitors into your home).
Prevention is the best medicine. We hope these tips for preparing your home for the winter season have been helpful and informative.
These are only a few ways Granite Transformations has provided to winterize your home. We are sure that you are aware of more that would be beneficial to other homeowners – please share your own winterizing tips and tricks in the comments section below.