While fall colors and milder winds prevail this time of year, it is still important for homeowners to think ahead to the next weather season – Winter! Preparing your home for winter can be an easy process. Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc. members recommend these home maintenance practices to get your house ready for “Old Man Winter’s” arrival!
Home Heating System Checks
- Tune Up Your Heating System – Call a contractor to have the furnace or heat pump inspected. This service will ensure the system is clean, in good repair, is free from carbon monoxide leakage, and that it can achieve its manufacturer-rated efficiency.
- Reverse Your Ceiling Fans – Warm air rises, cold air falls so if your ceiling fans have a reverse switch, use it to run the fan’s blades in a clockwise direction after you turn on your heat. That way fans will produce an updraft and push down the heated air from the ceiling.
Gutters and Roofing
- Clean the Gutters – Gutters full of debris can cause water can back up against the house and damage roofing, siding, and trim causing leaks and ice dams. A roof and gutter cleaning and inspection should identify missing or damaged gutters and fascia boards, too.
- Prevent Ice Dams – Take steps to prevent icicles, a tell tale sign of the potential for ice dams on the roof. Contact a home-energy auditor or weatherization contractor to help you identify and fix air leaks. Consider adding insulation in the home’s attic. Inadequate insulation can lead to ice dams.
- Review the Roof – Look for damaged, loose, or missing shingles that may leak during winter’s storms or from melting snow. Check and repair breaks in the flashing seals around vent stacks and chimneys, too.
- Call a Chimney Sweep – Make sure your fireplace, or any heating appliance burning gas, oil, wood, or coal, chimney and vents are clean and in good repair. An annual inspection helps to prevent chimney fires and prevent carbon monoxide from creeping into your home.
Windows and Doors
- Caulk Around Windows and Doors – Look out for gaps between siding and window or doorframes. Anything wider than the width of a nickel needs exterior caulk applied. Inspect the joints in window and doorframes, too. Silicone caulk is best for exterior use because it won’t shrink and it’s impervious to the elements. Add weather-stripping as needed around doors, making sure you cannot see any daylight from inside your home.
Water and Faucets
- Turn Off Exterior Faucets – Keep pipes from freezing by draining water from exterior faucets. Disconnect all garden hoses and drain the water that remains in faucets. Homes without frost-proof faucets (typically homes more than 10 to 15 years old), should turn off the shut-off valve inside the home.
- Test Your Sump Pump – Since most sump pumps last about 10 years, it’s important to test yours to ensure it is working properly. Slowly pour several gallons of water into the sump pit to see whether the pump turns on. You should do this every few months, but especially after a long dry season or before a rainy one.