Can you feel it in the air? Winter is coming. The first blast of cold weather or snowstorm could happen any day now. Are you prepared to stay warm, safe, and comfortable in your home? Before you get too cozy, review this checklist for winterizing your home. Make sure you haven’t overlooked an important detail.
Prepare your furnace. Your heating system has been hibernating over the warm months. Don’t expect it to wake up easily. Have a professional inspect your furnace and clean the air ducts. Have a supply of furnace filters on hand so you can change it monthly. If your home is heated by hot water, bleed the valves to remove the air in the line.
Inspect for drafts. Walk around the exterior of your home and look for cracks that could allow cold air to seep inside. Check the doors and windows, including the trim. Recaulk or add weatherstripping, as needed. Cover basement windows with plastic. Replace screen doors with storm doors. Go into your attic to see if you need additional insulation there.
Check your roof and gutters. Repair or replace any missing or damaged shingles on your roof. Clean out all the leaves and debris in your gutters. Inspect the flashing to ensure it will protect water from entering your home.
Protect your foundation. Rake the dead leaves, plants, and debris away from your home’s foundation. Look for any cracks, and seal them to prevent drafts and rodents from creeping inside.
Prepare for snow removal. Start up and tune up your snowblower. Check the quality of your snow shovel and decide if you need a new one. Stock up on sand, litter, or ice-melt to scatter on icy surfaces. Make sure every vehicle has an ice scraper and brush.
Prevent the freezes. Insulate all of the exposed pipes in the attic, basement, and garage. Disconnect and drain all garden hoses so the ice build-up in there doesn’t lead to a burst pipe. Shut off the water to the exterior faucets (or replace them with a frost-proof spigot).
Prepare your fireplace. Have your chimney, fireplace, and flue professionally inspected and cleaned, to remove highly flammable creosote and patch up cracks that could cause a chimney fire. Stock up on properly seasoned wood, and stack it outside away from your home, so that any chimney sparks don’t ignite the wood. Change the batteries on your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector.
Get ready for power outages. A heavy storm can leave you without heat or electricity for hours or even days. At the least, you should have an emergency kit with flashlights, extra batteries, and indoor lanterns. Keep a supply of bottled water and non-perishable food on hand. Buy a battery backup or UPS (uninterrupted power supply) to protect your computer in the event of a power outage. You might also invest in a generator in the event you go days without electricity in your home.
With the right preparation, the only thing you’ll have to worry about this winter is how to handle your kid’s snow days!