Getting the Jump on Winter: Home-Prepping Tips We Can All Use

Getting the Jump on Winter: Home-Prepping Tips We Can All Use

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If you are a homeowner or a renter responsible for home and yard maintenance, it is time to begin thinking about winterizing. There are several things you can do today, and in the next weeks, that will make your home more comfortable and lower your bills this winter.

Check the Entry Ways and Exits.

You aren’t looking for unwanted guests left over from your last barbecue. You are looking for missing or damaged weather-stripping around doors and windows. This is your first line of defense against cold air invasions; install new weather-stripping if necessary. Check the wooden frames of windows as well. If there are chips in them, or gaps, have them fixed. Repair broken or cracked glass now, too.

Then, get up-close-and-personal with your doors and windows to check for air leaks. A gap 1/8 of an inch around a door or window is comparable, in the amount of air it leaks, to having a six-inch- square hole in your wall. A simple way to check this is to hold a lit stick of incense and pass it around the door or window frame watching the smoke curl. If you discover gaps, fill them with weather-stripping or caulk.

Make Sure Your Heating System is Ready for the Cold.

If you aren’t sure you want to face those icy winds, check your furnace to make sure it is. Look at the firebox or flue to see if there is soot or creosote accumulated there that might cause a fire. Check out your fireplace, if you have one. When the damper is closed, you should not feel any cool air entering. Even a whisper of air could mean that your damper is worn or rusted. Put foam behind switch plates and outlets.

You would be surprised to know the amount of cold air that can enter through that tiny space. Change the air filters in your heating/cooling system regularly. Besides causing a strain on the system, clogged filters make air conditioning and heating less efficient. Then, reverse the direction of your overhead fan to keep warm air circulating.

Clean humidifiers now, too. Mold and mildew that grow there may spread through your house through the heating system making you sick. If you have room air conditioners, remove them from the windows, or cover them. You might consider installing a programmable thermostat to keep your heating system running efficiently. If all this seems overwhelming, think about purchasing a home protection plan from a heating/plumbing company. Then all you have to do is make the appointment and relax.

Give the Outside of your Home a Check-up Too

Replace screens with storm doors and windows. Replace any missing or broken shingles that might let moisture into your attic. Now is the time to clean out the leaves and debris from gutters so that they can channel rain and melting snow away from your house. Clean and cover outside vents into your home to keep out pests seeking a warm place to nest. Mice, birds and insects are good outside neighbors, but they make miserable roommates.

You should clean leaves and dirt from between the boards of your deck now too, to prevent them from being ruined by mold and mildew. Shut off outside faucets and store hoses away. If you live in a mobile home, make sure there is enough insulation around exposed pipes.

Summer will soon give place to fall, and fall to winter. There are many things you can do to make sure your house is ready to face cold weather. Homeowners who begin sooner, rather than later, to prepare for cold weather will find it is not such a daunting task. A bit of pro-active maintenance will make your home more comfortable, your heating bill more affordable and your heating system more efficient.

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