How to get your home ready for winter


Now is a really good time to start thinking about your home maintenance as well as getting it ready for the colder weather. Why not try to be a smarter homeowner this year and take some time now to get ahead of the coming cold weather and avoid all the havoc it could wreak on your house and yard? Here are a few items that you can do to get ready for the winter and help keep your home happy.


Check your home’s heating and air conditioning system


According to experts, most heating and air systems typically last 12 to 15 years and a lot of this has to do with how well they’re maintained.

Before the weather turns cold, take this time to change your filters. Having the system inspected by a reputable HVAC contractor is a good approach. Better yet, look into an annual maintenance agreement. Ask the contractor to check your system and make sure your heat is going to work when you need it. It’s a lot better to find an HVAC problem in the moderate temperatures of the fall than it is to find your furnace doesn’t work on a frigid winter day.


Protect exterior wood from the elements


All of the wood trim on the exterior of your home needs to be protected from the elements. The wood used on your deck is typically a pressure-treated or rot-resistant species of wood, but the wood trim around your exterior doors and windows might be just a one-inch-thick pine board that can deteriorate very quickly if not protected. 

Replacing this trim is a big cost and pain and even professionals can struggle with making the repair look good. The best thing to do is to make sure it doesn’t rot in the first place, and that means keeping it painted and caulked. This is a job most people can do themselves if they stay on top of it. Once the wood is rotted and requires replacement, then it’s time to hire a good trim carpenter to tackle this task. 

So before that happens, take the time to go around your home and make sure that none of the caulk is cracking and your paint is not chipping and flaking away. If it is, scrape away the bad paint and apply a fresh coat.


Pay attention to your patio



Even though your deck is made of treated or rot-resistant wood, it still needs protection. You don’t need to stain and seal your deck every year but it is best to check if it’s protected. To do this, simply pour some water on it. If the water beads up, then there is nothing to worry about. If the wood absorbs the water, it’s time to clean and seal your deck.


Inspect your drainage


It’s important to check the soil around your foundation hasn’t settled, creating areas for water to pool at your foundation. If you find a low spot, simply fill it in with some soil. Then go around and check your rain gutter downspouts. Make sure water is getting moved away from the home. Add downspout extenders if necessary. Saturated soil around a foundation can create real problems, especially if it freezes and thaws throughout the winter months.


Check your trees


Before all of the leaves fall, have a look at your trees and make sure they’re still healthy. A dead branch covered in snow can easily snap, and could potentially cause thousands of dollars worth of damage if it strikes a roof, a porch, or siding. Sometimes you really won’t notice if a tree is dying, especially if you have a lot of trees. 

If there are branches up against your house, it’s a good idea to trim them away before winter so you don’t have ice-coated branches against your siding or windows. Before the first snow, have a reputable tree service, landscape contractor, or arborist remove any dead or ailing limbs.


Keep your attic critter-free


It’s going to get cold out, which means your attic is the perfect winter home for squirrels and birds. These critters can cause a lot of damage and potentially some health problems for you or your family. Make sure your trees are trimmed well away from the house, and that your gable vents are intact. It’s a good idea to tack a screen up behind your gable vent just in case. Also, walk around your home and look up at your eaves to ensure there are no holes that will allow birds to get in.


Do an energy audit


If you’ve never had one, a professional energy audit is a good investment. But you can also manage this yourself on a more basic level too by just checking your door seals. The key is to make sure you’re not seeing daylight around your exterior doors. One tip is to take a can of spray foam insulation and fill in around those drafty outlets and light switches.


Shut down the pool and the sprinkler system


Make sure your pool is properly shut down and prepare the system for winter. Even if you’re a ‘do-it-yourselfer,’ the cost of getting an expert to inspect and shut down the system is worth it. Fall is a good time to get pool work done if you discover a problem.

Make sure your sprinkler system is properly shut down for the season. Most sprinkler systems require the lines to be blown out. Again, it’s well worth the cost for a professional. A professional winterizing will work out cheaper than replacing a bunch of broken lines next spring.

Your outside water faucet is completely unprotected from the elements. Take the time to do a basic drain of the line. You can simply shut off the water valve to your outside spigot, then go outside and open the exterior spigot valve and let the water drain out of the line. You don’t have to get every drop out. Now if the water in there freezes, it has plenty of room to expand without breaking pipes or seals. Leave the water shut off to the faucet until you need to use the hose next spring.