Preparing your home for the winter season

Fargo,ND, March 30, 2009--Heavy snow falls in the Oak Grove neighborhood. Andrea Booher/FEMA

© 2009 Andrea Booher/FEMA

As the coldest months of the year approach us, you may be beginning to feel the time crunch on doing any last-minute or seasonal home repairs before the weather gets too uncomfortable. It’s a yearly dance – putting up wreaths, shoveling the driveway, baking cookies; the list goes on. To help clarify some of the items on your to-do list, we’ve got some suggestions on what to do to prepare your home for winter.

The first item on our list is also the one that you’ll immediately notice any issues with. Your heating system should be inspected at the start of the season to ensure efficiency as well as measure carbon monoxide leakage. You can generally find a technician or contractor for $100 or less, especially if you get your appointment booked before the season begins. When you’re looking, make sure that your contractor is certified with the Air Conditioning Contractors of America.

Another crucial part of keeping your house warm is recaulking and insulating. If the gaps between your sliding window or door and its frame are wider than the width of a nickel, you need more caulk. Check your attic insulation at the start of the season as well and add more if needed. If your situation requires, consider also investing in weatherstripping around particularly drafty doors. You’ll be much more comfortable this winter without snow dripping through the cracks in your door.

Before it gets coated in ice, dust off your ladder and take a look at the roof. If you see loose or missing singles, hire a handyman or roofer to nip it in the bud before snow can pile on top of them. Check and repair breaks in the flashing seals around vent stacks and chimneys – you can get a home energy auditor or weatherization contractor toward this end. If you have a southwest style flat and asphalt-surfaced roof, rake or blow off leaves and pine needles. These can hold moisture, and can become notably heavy if they freeze. Don’t forget your gutters, either – identify problem spots where icicles could form and direct your gutter drains away from your property bed for efficient drainage.

One of the smallest but most useful things you can do to combat the cold is to reverse your ceiling fans. Sending your fans the other direction will produce an updraft and push heated air from the ceiling down into the room. This is especially useful in rooms with high ceilings, and could even allow you to turn your thermostat down a degree or two for utility savings. Another small but important thing to do is outside: don’t forget to drain your exterior faucets, hoses, and lawn irrigators so that they don’t end up freezing. Specifically, make sure your hose is disconnected from the faucet – you don’t want to have to deal with the icicle that will form inside.

Be sure to be fully stocked on salt, shovels, gloves, gasoline for a snowblower, and anything else you might need before the winter really sets in. You don’t want to find yourself competing with holiday shoppers for your necessities. This list is by no means comprehensive, but at the very least it will help you get a leg up on what needs to be done. With a little bit of planning and foresight, your home can remain a cozy shelter through the holidays and snow.


 

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