Homeowners all want to keep their home warm, dry and free of pests during the Winter. To make that happen, you need to perform some typical maintenance items to ensure the home is tight, and, you are keeping the warm air in and cold air out.
Included in the Winterizing chores is clearing out anything that would prevent proper drainage of rain water or melting snow. Keeping unwanted moisture away from the foundation and keeping drainage going away from the home is key.
- Keeping your gutters clean and free of debris such as twigs and leaves will keep the water flowing down and prevent formation of ice dams in gutters and on your roofline. Ensure you have no gaps in your soffit that critters could use to sneak into your home. You may wish to add gutter covers to save you having to constantly clean gutters, and, while you are on the ladder, check your soffit and fascia for potential holes or critter access points and seal them.
- Make sure your downspouts and drains are made of solid metal and not plastic, which can crack and leak, and they extend 6 ft away from the foundation. Keep foundation drainage at a 10 degree angle out to six feet away from the home.
- Inspect your roof and perform any necessary repairs before the snow flies. Replace any missing or curling/cupping shingles and ensure there are no gaps.
- Repair foundation gaps and fill in any cracks to prevent moisture or pest intrusion. Your local hardware store or big box home store will have supplies depending on what type of siding you have to help you plug the gaps; such as expansion foam or specialty caulks for specific siding types. Check front and back steps and doorways and use expansion foam to cut off any small potential air leaks or access points for pests.
- Seal any air leaks on doors and windows with appropriate insulation or caulk and seal appropriate to the material you are sealing. Reducing air loss will save you on your heat budget.
- Chimneys typically get a buildup of creosote if you are regularly burning wood in your fireplace, so, to prevent creosote buildup or potential chimney fires, have your chimney cleaned and inspected before Winter. Don’t rely on creosote clearing logs, have it checked to be safe. Checking your chimney will ensure it is still in working order as well. Chimney issues can cost thousands to fix, at which point, it might make sense to install a gas insert rather than repair the chimney. A gas insert has its own chimney inserted, making repairs on the inside of the original chimney obsolete in some cases. Also, make sure the exterior of the chimney is in good shape as well, as, this will prevent animals from getting into the home. No one wants to deal with birds, squirrels or other issues inside their home.
- Winterize your pool if in-ground, clean the filter and put on the cover and whatever else is needed to ensure your pool will be ready to use come next Spring/Summer. Follow the installers guidelines and make sure no critters can enter the pool.
- Install any missing screens on vents to prevent critters from entering the house through warm air ventilators. Depending on what type of vent it is you may want to use a screen small enough to prevent small bugs from entering the home as well. Clean off the lint from the dryer vent often to prevent buildup.
- Drain your exterior hoses and properly store them, and, drain your exterior faucets after you shut off the water from inside the home. This will prevent water freezing and pipes bursting and causing flooding in or outside the home. Install a freeze proof exterior faucet if needed, which can also prevent pipes bursting in Winter.
- Wrap any vulnerable plants and shrubs with burlap or similar type of material to prevent loss of expensive landscaping and give them an extra warm layer during the Winter.
- Prune all trees and hedges and shrubs, especially cut back anything that is touching the home siding or roof line. This is best done in Fall or very early Spring before branches begin to sprout.
- Store any yard accessories and furniture or use protective covering. You will extend the life of your items if you store properly.
- Check your attic insulation to ensure you have proper levels, and, be sure to check seals on kitchen and bath vents to the roof are tight so you will be free of moisture or heat leaks.
- Make sure your furnace filter is clean and you have extras on hand.
Your Hardware store or other suppliers always have great tips and options for keeping your home well-maintained. Taking the time to do this will save you money and trouble in the long run.
Written by Claire Bastien for Buyers Real Estate Group 2021