10 Steps for Preparing Your Home for Winter

10 Steps for Preparing Your Home for Winter

One of the worst feelings you can experience is when your home needs a major repair during the winter. If the repair can even be done, you know it will be expensive. If it inconveniences you in any way, well now you're inconvenienced in the cold. Repairs often mean adjusting habits for a time, and there's less flexibility to change your life around a repair during the winter. There are some crucial ways you can prepare your home for winter, in a way that avoids problems and protects your wallet.

1) Pressure Washing

Pressure wash your home before winter. Winter brings wet, cold conditions that allow dirt and grit to stick to the side of your home. As rain, snow, and ice melt and freeze, any grit underneath can cause damage to the surface of your home. Pressure washing is an efficient way to get rid of this grime and buildup before the season starts.

It has the added benefit of clearing any mold and mildew off the surface and out of crevices. Mold and mildew hold onto water, so during winter they'll absorb water, and that can damage the surface of homes.

2) Heating Maintenance

Many people imagine that heating systems can go on without maintenance until they break and need replacement. Heating systems are machinery, though. Like any other piece of machinery, regular cleaning and repair can extend their lives and make them more efficient.

A tune-up before winter can help decrease your energy bills. Now, a tune-up will usually cost around $80 to $100. That might be more than you save over one winter, but you can also help to extend the life of your furnace or heat pumps, and a furnace can run thousands of dollars if it needs replacement.

A tune-up helps make sure the system is clean and working well. It also identifies any potential problems ahead of time, before they become larger issues. An inspection like this also helps keep you safe, as a technician will look for any carbon monoxide leaks.

3) Seal Roof Leaks

Air leaks in your home can lead to your heating system doing a lot more work. After all, if hot air is being lost through air leaks, your system needs to work that much harder to keep the home at the temperature you want.

Air leaks in the roof can also contribute to ice dams. Ice dams are areas where snow is melted and refrozen. This can lead to snow build-up on the roof, as well as icicles that are large enough to cause damage or hurt someone when they fall. You can weatherize air leaks to ensure that the problem is solved, often with the aid of a home energy auditor or contractor.

4) Roof Inspection

Speaking of the roof, make sure your roofing is intact. A missing shingle or other damage can lead to leaks. Repairs, when there are inches of snow or a layer of ice on the roof, can be either expensive or impossible. Clear off leaves, since these can absorb and hold moisture, adding to the weight, the formation of snowdrifts, and icing issues on your roof.

5) Clear the Gutters

Clear your gutters, too. If your gutters are cluttered, rain and meltwater may not clear off your roof like it should. When rain gets stopped up in the gutters, it will simply pour out in an uncontrolled fashion. Water is guided by gutters to areas where it can fall without causing damage. When rain simply spills out of a clogged or flooded gutter, it will erode and form small ditches where it falls.

In addition to this, a flooded gutter is a good way for the entire gutter to break and come angling down. That can crack a window or cause injury in some circumstances. It's also a lot more expensive to fix than to complete a good leaf cleaning.

6) Frame Leaks

Check windows and doors for leaks. These are prime areas for air to enter and exit the home. During winter, that can mean you're paying to heat the outdoors. Re-caulk any area that needs it. Make sure windows close and lock correctly and that frame joints hold well, too.

7) Ceiling Fans for Winter

Ceiling fans are for the summer, right? They can actually help during the winter, too. There's a little switch on the side of ceiling fans. Flick it and the next time you turn the fan on, it will spin in reverse.

How does this help? Notice how the fan's blades are turned? This is so air will be pushed down from the fan's location. That's what's called a downdraft. When the fan runs in reverse, it creates an updraft. This pushes hotter air that sits toward the ceiling around the room. Since heat also enters from wall panels, it can also help your heating system.

8) Faucet Maintenance

Turn off any faucets that are exterior to your home. Then drain them of the remaining water. If water is left in the pipes, it can burst those pipes as it turns to ice. This can lead to very expensive repairs in areas of the home that become flooded. If you don't have frost-proof faucets, you'll need to turn the shut-off valve inside your house that feeds them water.

Likewise, drain any lawn sprinkler or irrigation system you use. The same problem – ice bursting pipes and spigots – can be avoided if you turn off the system and drain it out.

9) Sump Pump Preparation

If you own a sump pump, run a check on it. Seasons that are wetter can do a number on an unprepared system. You can simply pour several gallons of water into your sump pit. Does your sump pump turn on? You're set. If it doesn't, have it checked.

10) Chimney Inspection

If your home has a chimney, make sure it's in a good state. A chimney inspection is below $100, and if it needs cleaning, that should be $300 at the maximum. Burning anything in a chimney that's not venting well can lead to carbon monoxide being pushed back into your home or a fire inside the chimney itself. A little bit of cleaning can lead to a much more useful and comfortable fireplace.

Are you prepared for winter? Let us know how we can help you stay warm, comfy, and efficient this season! Contact us for your pressure washing needs