September 30, 2018

When the leaves start falling, we know winter is coming and this would be a good time to prepare your home for winter, before the cold weather arrives.  Here is a simple checklist to prepare you home:

  1. Windows and doors: Check the weather stripping around window and door frames for leaks to prevent heat loss.  On a day when it is windy outside, feel for air leaks, you can do this with an incense stick.  Watch for the smoke trail as it should be vertical, if it isn’t, you have an air leak.  When it happens, replace weather stripping if necessary or caulk inside and out, where necessary to keep heat from escaping.  Inspect windows for crack, broken glass or gaps, repair or replace if needed.   Replace all screen doors with storm doors, replace all window screens with storm windows.
  2. Air conditioning: Use a hose with a spray head on the highest setting and clean the fan blades and condensing coils clear of debris and dirt.  Cover the unit to protect it from being damaged by wet leaves and debris that can contribute to rusting and freezing of internal components.  Cover the air conditioning units with a breathable waterproof cover to help extend the life and performance of the unit.  For window air conditioners, remove them and store it for winter.  If they cannot be removed, then close the vents and cover it with a similar cover as stated above.
  3. Heating system:  Test: Turn the thermostat to heat mode and set it to 80F or 27C.  You should hear the furnace turn on and warm air should blow within a few minutes.  If the furnace is running fine, turn the thermostat back to the normal setting, otherwise try and diagnose it or call a qualified service technician.  Replace the air filter with a new clean air filter.  If you have a propane or oil furnace, make sure to have our fuel storage tank topped off and ready to go.  Clear obstacles from the heating vents so air can flow freely, these vents and ducts should be cleaned every year or 2.  Check for Monoxide leaks.  Leaks can be detect with a battery operated alarm and read the follow post, Protecting your home from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning to learn how to protect your family.
  4. Insulation for Pipes: If you have any exposed pipes or drain piping in un-insulated spaces like a crawlspaces, attics or an outside wall, make sure to insulate them.  Ideally it should be wrapped with electrical heating tape first and then insulated.  If that is not possible, at least insulate it with foam insulation.  Exterior faucets have to have it’s water supply turned off from inside the house and the water has to be drained from the exterior faucet.  disconnect garden hoses and drain them especially if you are storing them outside.  If you are shutting down your property for the winter months, shut off the water supply and drain your plumbing system to avoid  a leak.
  5. Roof Gutters and Drains: Check your roof and see if there are any missing or damaged or warped shingles and replace them if necessary. Check the flashing around chimneys and other roof projections which often the cause of leaks.  Make sure the gutters and downspouts are clean and have no leaves.  Wet leaves in the gutters over winter with the the added volume of snow and ice can increase the risk of damage.  The downspouts should extend away from the house by at least 5ft to prevent flooding of the foundation and water damage from snow melt.    Ensure all vents and openings are covered to prevent insect, birds and rodents from getting inside to nest.
  6.  Lawn Garden & Deck: Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires to prevent ice-over or wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem.  Aerate the lawn, reseed and apply a winterizing fertilizer to promote deep-root growth come spring.  Dig up flower bulbs, brush off soil and label them.  Store bulbs in a bog or box with peat moss in a a cool dry place for spring replanting. Clean soil from planters and bring terra cotta pots and fragile material indoors Clean, dry and cover your patio furniture with a strong tarp or store in the shed or garage to protect it from the elements. Inspect your deck for splintering, decay or insect damage and treat it with a fresh coat of sealer before winter.  Clean leaves, dirt, and pine needles between the boards of wooden decks to thwart mold and mildew growth.  Inspect outdoor lightning around the property, this will minimize the chance of accidents on icy walkways at night.  Check handrails on exterior stairs to make sure they are well secured.
  7. Tools & Machinery: Bring all seasonal tools inside and spray them with a coating of lightweight oil to prevent rust.  Weatherize your lawn mower by cleaning off mud, leaves, grass, and debris.  Drain the gas from your lawn mower, or just let the mower run until it is out of gas.    Move your snow blower and shovels to the front of the garage or shed for easy access.  Prepare the snow blower for the first snowfall by changing the oil and replacing the spark plug.  Sharpen your ice chopper and inspect snow shovels to make sure they’re ready for another season of work.  Make sure you have an ample supply of ice melt or sand on hand for steps, walkways, and the driveway.

Follow these easy steps to keep and prepare your home for winter.  To avoid the inevitable, call us at Rice Inc. to make sure you are sufficient coverage and have the proper home insurance.