For most of us, the winter months turn cold, rainy, and the conditions turn to a whole different level of home deterioration. For that reason, it’s important to get a jump on maintaining your home for winter by taking the extra steps to ensure that moisture, cold, and critters can’t get into your home and cause bigger problems down the line.
We’ve put together our winter prep checklist to help you get ready for the changing weather and a few months of less-than-desirable working conditions.
Maintain Your HVAC System
No matter where you are, October and November are great times to get your HVAC system ready for the winter months. Especially if you’re in the colder northern climates, it’s of utmost importance to get your furnace serviced to ensure that you don’t have problems when the weather truly turns cold.
Do what you can to take care of your HVAC system by changing filters, testing your equipment, and making sure that things seem to work well. If you have natural gas or propane appliances, now is a great time to check your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors or purchase new ones. Your CO detectors should be no more than 7 years old.
Finally, have your HVAC professional come and give the system a winter maintenance check to ensure that no lurking problems are waiting to reveal themselves.
Paint, Caulk, and Touch-Up Your Exterior
Moisture can enter your home any number of ways, but water likes to follow paths of least resistance. Over the summer months, your home’s caulk can dry up, trim around windows and doorways can separate from the siding, and water and moisture can have a free pass into your home.
Eliminate these moisture paths by caulking the trim around your windows, doors, and anywhere else you see where water may be able to infiltrate. If the sun’s ultraviolet rays have deteriorated your home’s exterior paint and exposed any wood or siding, then spend some time touching up your home’s exterior paint.
Caulk and paint are cheap, but repairing siding and deep water damage is expensive!
Clean Gutters and Check Drainage
If you have gutters around your home, then the late fall months and early winter is a great time to make sure that your gutters are clean and your property is draining satisfactorily. Over the summer and during the changing of the seasons, leaves and debris can build up in your gutters causing them to clog or get weighed down.
Take some time to clean out your gutters and make sure that both they and your property are draining away from your home. Standing water or water that runs under a house or near your foundation can cause catastrophic water and moisture issues for foundations. If needed, re-grade or re-route water run-off to prevent water and snowmelt from causing problems.
Clean Your Chimney and Stock Up on Firewood
If you have a fireplace, you probably have otherwise neglected it during the summer months. Unmaintained chimneys can be massive fire hazards and should be cleaned before use in the winter. Soot, nesting insects, and birds can cause chimney clogs and give smoke and fire an easy way to combust creating a hazardous situation.
If you haven’t had your chimney maintained in several years, it’s probably best to hire a professional chimney sweep to service your chimney and fireplace. Otherwise, consider burning a chimney sweep log or look into doing the maintenance yourself.
Finally, stock up on clean, dry, and pest-free firewood for the winter months if you plan on using your fireplace regularly.