December is here in full force! The weather is going to get colder—much colder—before we see those pleasant temperatures again. Once you’ve stored your patio furniture and raked the fallen leaves, you will need to winterize your home to protect it from all the hazards that a long, hard winter can bring.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a checklist to winterize your home.
Check your heating system.Crank up the thermostat to 80 degrees and listen for the furnace to turn on. Then, you should feel warm air. If that works, turn the temperature back down to the normal setting. This is only a test. You should hire a professional to do a full inspection and cleaning of your heating system.
Put your air conditioner to bed.You need to do more than turn off the A/C when the weather gets too cold to use it. Hose off the entire central air conditioner’s condensing unit to remove leaves and other debris. Be sure you use a heavy spray. Then, cover the condenser to prevent leaves, twigs, and other items from invading the unit. With freezing temperatures, those seemingly innocent things could lead to interior damage.
Inspect the chimney.Creosote builds up in the chimney, leading to dangerous chimney fires. Hire a professional chimney sweep to ensure that the chimney and flue are ready for those crackling winter fires. While you’re at it, have a complete chimney inspection to find leaks that let in the cold air and ignite your heating costs.
Insulate yourself. A burst pipe can be a disaster. Wrap insulation around any exposed piping to blanket them from the cold. If you have exterior faucets, turn off the water supply that feeds them. Wrap an insulating blanket around your hot water tank to prevent heat from escaping. Apply foam sealing gaskets around exterior outlets and switch plates.
Plug the leaks. Windows and doors are notorious for housing leaks. Check your windows and doors—including the trim and the bottom of the doors—for drafts. Apply (or replace) weather stripping. Recaulk areas where edges come together, at the corners of the house, or where the roof meets the siding.
Plug in Your Hot Water Heaters. If you have a tankless hot water heater, make sure your heat tape is plugged in.
Proof the roof. It’s no fun getting on the roof to make repairs in the dead of winter. Be proactive by checking your roof now, before the weather gets cold. Replace cracked, missing, or damaged roof shingles. Make sure the flashing is intact. And, if you didn’t already include the task in your autumn checklist, clean the gutters. All those leaves, sticks, and other unwanted stuff will add weight to your gutters when they freeze and block the safe flow of water when the snow melts.
Shut down the sprinklers & hose bibs.Water might still be inside your sprinkler lines and hose bibs. If it freezes, those lines could burst. Turn off the water supply and then be sure to run the remainder of the water out of the line. Cover hose bibs with covers that you can purchase at hardware stores.
Prepare for Possible Snow. Check the quality of your snow shovel and decide if you need a new one. Stock up on sand or litter to scatter on icy surfaces. Do not use salt or ice melt on driveways and sidewalks as the chemicals can cause your driveway layers to flake. Make sure every vehicle has an ice scraper and brush should snow happen when you are out and about.
Spend a little time winterizing your home now so you can enjoy a season without unnecessary home repairs.