For homeowners, each season ushers in a new set of home maintenance chores. Now is the time of the year when many owners are preparing for a significant dip in the temperatures. Even if you live in a more moderate climate and don’t expect a deep freeze or blinding snow, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your home in tip-top shape for winter weather.
STEP ONE: Prepare the Home’s Exterior
Clean the gutters. In many warmer locations, trees still shed their leaves and find their way into your gutters. Debris clumps create an inviting environment for bugs, pests, and mold. Dirty gutters also make it impossible for them to do their job—keeping water flowing away from your house and preventing damage, outside and inside.
Check other exterior items. Carefully inspect the rest of your home’s exterior, including awnings, shutters, storm doors and windows, window well covers, siding, and shingles. Make sure everything is secure and in good working order.
STEP TWO: Manage Interior Air Flows
Reverse ceiling fans. In warm weather, ceiling fans should run counter-clockwise, to push air directly down and generate a breeze that helps you feel cooler. In winter, however, reverse the flow (clockwise) and reduce the speed, so warm air is gently pushed down into your living space.
Check the vents. Both the outgoing and intake vents should be unobstructed. When an HVAC system doesn’t have enough air flowing in, it reduces its efficiency and can damage the system, creating costly repairs. In addition to removing any items blocking the air flow, make sure the vents are clean and dust-free.
Reduce air leaks. Eliminating air leaks around windows will increase your comfort, even in warmer climates. Use weather-stripping around ill-fitting doors and replace the door sweeps to reduce drafts.
Inspect the furnace. It’s best to have your heating system professionally inspected as cold weather approaches than to discover problems and repairs once you need to heat your home. Check the air filter too! Depending on what type you’re using, these should be changed every one to six months.
STEP THREE: Winterize the Yard
Prepare plants. Trees, bushes, and hedges that go dormant in winter benefit from pruning at this time of the year. Remove any dead, diseased, or damaged branches and stems to avoid attracting insects or encouraging new diseases.
Remove leaves. Allowing leaves to remain in your yard can damage your lawn by preventing fresh air, water, and nutrients from reaching the grass and allowing root systems to strengthen.
While preparing your house for winter heating, it’s also a good idea to make sure your fire extinguishers are handy and visible. Is the pin still in place and the seal still intact? Are there any signs of corrosion or leakage? If you find any problems, it’s time to replace it.
Remember to check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms too. If they are battery-operated, replace and test the batteries.
No matter where you live and how cold the temperatures dip, have a warm, safe, and enjoyable winter!