Set your home up for success before temperatures drop.
Summer is slipping away, and early fall is nearly here. While that doesn’t necessarily mean below-freezing temperatures are right around the corner, homeowners across the country should start prepping their properties for harsher winter weather.
And cold weather home preparation is about more than pulling out the holiday decorations. The fact is, snow, ice and dropping temperatures tend to take a toll on your home each year. To protect one of your largest investments, your cold home weather preparation to-do list should include:
Servicing Your Furnace
Sealing Any Drafts
Rotating Ceiling Fan Blades
Trimming Tree Branches
Giving the Roof and Gutters a Check Up
Blowing Out Your Sprinklers
1. Service your furnace Of course, you’ll want to ensure your heating system is in good working order well before you really need it. Your furnace requires regular maintenance but was likely pushed to the wayside at the first sign of warmer weather. To give it a refresh:
Be sure to cut the electrical power and fuel supply before working on the furnace.
Clean the combustion chamber with a wire brush and a vacuum.
Check the exhaust for any holes or other damage. Patch any small holes with foil tape and replace areas with more significant damage.
Replace last year’s air filter. Take note of the filter type to determine when you’ll need to change it again. Be sure to change it at least once a year, but the right figure may vary based on your family’s usage and even whether there are pets in the home. Whatever frequency you determine, add a reminder on the family calendar or in your phone while it’s top of mind.
Test that the furnace is functioning as intended.
Remove all floor registers and vacuum air ducts before putting the shop vac away.
Then, bask in the glow until next year!
2. Seal any drafts Unfortunately, even the most efficient furnace is no match for a drafty home. Staying warm this fall and winter also requires sealing up any drafty areas. Exterior windows and doors are often the most common locations for air leaks, so it may make sense to start there. If you do find drafts, invest in some weather stripping or caulking in a color that best matches your home’s features for a seamless appearance. You may also want to investigate near attic hatches, wiring holes, plumbing vents, recessed lights and chimneys. These elements can all introduce excess air as well. 3. Rotate ceiling fan blades If you’re hoping to stay warm through the colder months, as counterintuitive as it may sound, you’ll want to make sure your ceiling fan is in tip top shape. As the weather cools, reverse the motor and ensure the ceiling fan operates in a clockwise rotation. Stand directly under the fan and feel for a slight warm breeze. Heat rises, remember? That’s why the top floors of your home are often warmer than, say, the basement. When fan blades rotate in this direction the wind-chill effect is minimized and warm air is pushed downward, subtly making you feel warmer. 4. Give the roof and gutters a check up Depending on where you live, as the weathers gets progressively colder, your roof and gutters will soon start earning their keep. A strong, healthy roof boosts energy efficiency, improves curb appeal, and, of course, are the two main things separating your family from the cold winter weather. An old or damaged roof, on the other hand, can cause leaks, stains and extensive, costly damage.
The gutters are similarly important. Rain gutters direct dangerous levels of water away from the foundation of your home, preventing mold, mildew and water damage. In the winter, heavy snow and ice can collect in your gutters, eventually causing them to sag or break. Before temperatures drop, evaluate your roof and gutter system. Clear debris, replace any missing shingles and clean your gutters thoroughly. Your future self will thank you. 5. Blow out your sprinklers While freezing temps may still be a few months away, you may want to start thinking about this task. After all, for many homeowners, it’s no easy feat. You can always hire a pro but, if you want to winterize your sprinkler system yourself, here’s how to get started:
Turn off the water. Depending on the age of the home and local building codes, your master shut off valve may be located in a closet, basement, utility room, shed or even outside your home. Once found, turn the valve clockwise to halt the flow of water. The valve should turn by hand but, if it’s stuck, carefully use a pair of pliers.
If your system has a backflow preventer, a mechanism to ensure contaminated water doesn’t flow back into the home, ensure the backflow valve is tightly shut. The backflow preventer may be located behind your water meter or affixed to your home’s exterior.
Rent or purchase an air compressor. With many homeowners eager to blowout their sprinkler systems before it’s too late, compressors can be hard to find this time of year. Reserve one early or consider investing, so you’ll be set for years to come.
Connect the air compressor’s hose to the threaded outlet drain valve located near your backflow preventer. You may also need to purchase an adapter to successfully connect the hose.
Ensure the compressor shows no more than 80 pounds per square inch of pressure on the gauge. Turn the valve to the zone furthest from you and observe the air pressure pushing the water out of each sprinkler head. Once the mist turns to air, you’re clear to move to the next zone. Depending on the size of the compressor, you may need to repeat each zone more than once.
Once the system is completely blown out, disconnect the hose, unplug your system’s timer and remove the batteries. Your sprinkler system is ready for winter!
Cold Weather Home Preparation Colder weather can be taxing on the best of us, but not nearly has taxing as skipping it can be on your home sweet home. Getting a head start on cold weather home preparation ensures your property is set up for success. And there’s no time to wait. When the temperature really starts to drop, you’ll be glad you started today.