As David Letterman says, “Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees.”
While fall is a beautiful season with reasonably nice weather, it’s only a prelude to the frigid months of winter. Did you know there is only one state in the United States where the temperatures have never dipped below zero? In case you couldn’t guess, that state is Hawaii. Since most of us aren’t lucky enough to live there, that means fall is a time to winterize your home. Here in Cache Valley, you have to protect yourself against heavy snow, freezing temperatures, and that guy who keeps borrowing your snow blower and not returning it.
Here are ten tips to help you winterize your home in Cache Valley:
1) Furnace Inspection
First of all, call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and clean ducts. Stock up on furnace filters and change them monthly. Consider switching out your thermostat for a programmable thermostat. If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly and when water appears, close them. Remove all flammable material from the area surrounding your furnace.
2) Get the Fireplace Ready
Cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds. If the chimney hasn’t been cleaned for a while, then call a chimney sweep. Buy firewood or chop wood. Store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home. Inspect the fireplace damper to make sure it properly opens and closes. Finally, check the mortar between bricks and tuckpoint, if necessary.
3) Check the Exterior, Doors and Windows
Inspect exterior for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes. If you find any, seal them. Use weatherstripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home and then caulk the windows. Replace cracked glass in windows and, if you end up replacing the entire window, prime and paint exposed wood. If your home has a basement, consider protecting the window wells by covering them with plastic shields. Switch out summer screens with glass replacements from storage. If you have storm windows, install them.
4) Inspect Roof, Gutters & Downspouts
If your weather temperature will fall below 32 degrees in the winter, then adding extra insulation to the attic will prevent warm air from creeping to your roof and causing ice dams. Check flashing to ensure water cannot enter the home. Replace worn roof shingles or tiles. Clean out the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away debris. Consider installing leaf guards on the gutters or extensions on the downspouts to direct water away from the home.
5) Service Weather-Specific Equipment
Gasoline is likely to go bad over the winter, so drain gas from lawnmowers. Service or tune-up snow blowers before the snow comes so they’ll be ready. Replace worn rakes and snow shovels. Clean, dry, and store summer gardening equipment. Sharpen ice choppers and buy bags of ice-melt/sand to avoid slipping on ice.
6) Check Foundations
First, rake away all debris and vegetation from the foundation. Then, seal up entry points to keep small animals from crawling under the house. Check for cracks in the foundation’s seals. Mice can slip through space as thin as a dime. Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation. Secure crawlspace entrances.
7) Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Some cities require a smoke detector in every room. Buy extra smoke detector batteries and change them when daylight savings ends. Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and / or water heater. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work. Buy a fire extinguisher or replace an extinguisher older than 10 years.
8) Prevent Plumbing Freezes
Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency. Drain all garden hoses. Insulate exposed plumbing pipes. Drain air conditioner pipes. If your AC has a water shut-off valve, turn it off also. If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, set to at least 55 degrees.
For more detailed tips, check out our article.
9) Prepare Landscaping & Outdoor Surfaces
Trim trees if branches hang too close to the house or electrical wires. Ask a gardener when your trees should be pruned to prevent winter injury. Plant spring flower bulbs and lift bulbs that cannot winter over such as dahlias in areas where the ground freezes. Seal driveways, brick patios and wood decks. Don’t automatically remove dead vegetation from gardens as some provide attractive scenery in an otherwise dreary, snow-drenched yard. Move sensitive potted plants indoors or to a sheltered area.
10) Prepare an Emergency Kit
Buy indoor candles and matches / lighter for use during a power shortage. Find the phone numbers for your utility companies and tape them near your phone or inside the phone book. Buy a battery back-up to protect your computer and sensitive electronic equipment. Store extra bottled water and non-perishable food supplies (including pet food if you have a pet), blankets and a first-aid kit in a dry and easy-to-access location. Be sure you also prepare an evacuation plan in the event of an emergency.
Let Us Help
While you can’t prepare for everything, these tips should help you keep on top of most problems. Don’t hesitate to get in contact with us if the winter months start causing you problems. Our staff is on call 24/7 to serve all your cleaning and restoration needs.