HOW TO PREP YOUR HOME FOR WINTER (INSIDE & OUT)
Winter is nearing, and as a homeowner, that should ring some bells! Here’s a homeowner guide that outlines important checklist items to maintain a healthy home report throughout winter.
We start by exploring all the inside items, then move outside. It’s best to check up on all items in this list, although some may not apply. If you are finding yourself in doubt, please reach out to Maine Home Connection, we are here to help!
- Clean Your Carpets!
After a season of shoes, beach sand, and traverse through your home, it’s time for a good deep clean before you find yourselves enjoying a little more indoor time. Find a nice day to open the windows, then stop by a Home Depot or Lowes to rent a carpet cleaning machine. You can also ask a professional to come and clean them for you. You’ll most likely be shocked at the difference.
- Check Your Furnace!
Heat – is one of the most important components of your home in the winter. Before it’s too late, schedule a check-up with your heating and fuel company to check on your heating system. You’ll want to be sure all cylinders are firing when you go to turn up your heat. The cost of a checkup should be part of your yearly expenses, and you may be able to set up an annual contract to take advantage of any discounts.
Since we’re on the topic, it’s advisable to change out your furnace filters every few months. If you haven’t already, this annual checkup would be a good time to do it as dust accumulates throughout the year. Be aware of all filters in your systems so that all systems are free and clear!
- Check Your Fireplace!
A clean fireplace is essential in the winter months – it provides safe heat. Your fireplace flue should be free and clear of debris and the damper should be able to easily open and close. Open the damper and peak up the flue to be sure no items are obstructing the view to the top. To be sure you have a clean flute, have a professional come and clear any creosote buildup at least every other year – the flammable by-product of burning wood.
They’ll be able to inspect any other damages in your firebox. Fireplace or wood stove inspections should be accounted for in your yearly expenses depending on how frequently it’s used.
- Unpack Your Humidifier!
Humidifiers are commonly used for dry sinuses, cracked lips, and other symptoms of dry air in your home. Just as they help you get through a long winter, humidifiers also help to soothe your home. Fine woods, such as Cherry, are prone to splitting more easily than other types of wood grains. When air is constantly dry in your home, this could be a concern. Adding a humidifier will ease the dryness in the air and keep both you and your home feeling comfortable. To make sure it runs smoothly all winter long, make sure it’s fully functioning and clean.
- Test Your Safety Plan!
Safety is important, which is why features such as carbon monoxide or fire alarms are most of the time mandatory. Reviewing these safety features can be critical to make sure your home is performing in tip-top shape. The list below is some items you should take care of:
- Replace batteries in your smoke and CO detectors, vacuum them out, and test them out. Make sure there’s one installed on each floor, including the basement.
- Make sure you have a fire extinguisher (or two), especially near your kitchen. It should be in good shape and under six years old, and clear of severe damage. If not, you should have it replaced.
- It’s always best to have an escape plan – generally used for fire – these plans are crucial to have in your household. Make sure there are two exit paths for every bedroom (including those in the basement), whether it be a window or doorway. Rope ladders are suggested for all rooms above the main floor, and large items should be cleared from windows.
- Just as Marie Konda demonstrates, “Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy”, reevaluate items that accumulate in your home. Hazardous household chemicals, such as aerosol cans, cleaning products, pesticides, antifreeze, and old batteries should not hang around heaters, furnaces, or other heat-producing appliances as most are flammable. It’s best to check how to dispose of these items carefully.
- Repair Walkways!
Have steps to your front door? Or a walkway paved with cement, brick, or cobblestone? Each year before winter, look for uneven pavers, cracks 1/8-inch wide (or larger), and loose railings. What may seem as necessary now may become hazardous to walk to the house later. As moisture freezes, it expands – creating larger cracks that you might trip on. And that wobbly railing? That won’t hold you up if you fall. Resort to an experienced professional if your DIY skill isn’t big enough for the job.
- Prep Your Lawn!
Yards small and large should be prepped for the winter! Yard work can be daunting, so hire a professional caretaker if needed. A few tips, such as aerating your lawn, racking up leaves from garden beds, and winterizing shrubs and small trees, will prepare your yard before it fully wakes up for Spring.
- Stow Your Mower!
Once yard work is taken care of, it’s time to put away the mower. Since you won’t be using it any time soon, it’s destined to sit in your shed or garage for a few months awaiting the big day. However, the fuel that sits in your tank will deteriorate after a while. Go to the store and put some fuel stabilizer into your gas tank – it will prevent your gas from deteriorating.
- Touch Up Paint!
With warmer days still ahead, you will be able to touch up any exterior paint on the siding of your home and trim. Fresh paint helps to seal up your home, protecting it from the elements. Scan the perimeter of your home for surfaces that could potentially be covered with snow – porch stairs, wooden deck floors, and siding or trim.
- Drain & Disconnect Your Garden Hose!
As the temperatures start to drop, you will want to drain your garden hose and then disconnect it from any outdoor faucet. This will save you a headache down the line – as any water left in your hose freezes, it expands and might crack your faucet and interior pipes. Once you’re done, store your garden hose somewhere inside.
- Drain Your Sprinkler System!
Similar to your hose, your irrigation lines can freeze. It’s best to turn off the water valve to the sprinkler system and any automatic controllers, then drain any remaining water in the line.
- Clean Your Gutters!
Have you ever looked up at your rain gutter? After a storm or a windy day, your rain gutters can easily accumulate debris. This debris may be hard to see, but you may notice any runoff water not draining properly. The fall is a good time to get your gutters cleaned after the leaves fall. Clear them of all leaves, twigs, and residual muck from over the months (or maybe even years). Tighten up hangers if any gutters are sagging or replace them completely. The same goes for damaged brackets that hold the spouts going down.
While you’re at it, inspect the drainage system in place. If your gutters drain towards your foundation, make sure the surrounding soil slopes away to prevent any leaks.
- Inspect Your Roof!
Tackling roof issues is typically a homeowner’s least favorite task. Please refer to a professional to inspect your roof if it is too steep or multiple stories up. Using binoculars is a fairly easy way to inspect before contacting a professional. The warning signs of a leaky roof look like cracked, buckled, or missing shingles. Also look for rust on metal flashings, which live around your vents, chimneys, and valleys.
It’s best to replace these items before the winter months to avoid potentially larger problems that go beyond cosmetic repair.