7 Things To Do To Your Home Before Winter Comes
Your home requires routine maintenance and upkeep. As your home ages, it endures summer heat, winter storms and the typical daily use by each of your family members, pets and mother nature. Some home projects don’t require a ton of specialized skills and with the right equipment tackling these projects on your own may induce a strong sense of accomplishment. But for some projects, you’ll need to put the hammer down and realize that it is easier and ultimately cheaper (if you factor in your time) to call in a professional.
Here are a list of things you should be sure to tackle before winter. You decide what you can do and what you should hire a professional for. We’re simply providing the “honey-do” list before it gets cold.
1. Gutters Cleared & Cleaned
After the leaves fall and before it freezes too much, get up there and get the gunk out. With the water flowing away from the house, you are preventing dangerous icicles, ice dams and water buildup that can seep into your foundation.
2. Seek Out Drafts
During the next windy day, walk around your house with a lit incense stick or candle to areas like your fireplace, brick walls, electrical outlets and any other place that might bring in outside air. Filling even those little drafts will make a difference this winter. Use door sweeps for under doors, caulk for interior spaces and sealer for the bricks and concrete.
3. Window Check
Speaking of drafts, let’s address your windows. Now it’s probably not feasible to replace all the windows in your home right now. However, based on your draft test, you might consider starting to budget for replacing them, working your way through the house. There are some other quick fix options you can apply, like making sure there are no drafts around the windows, putting up your storm windows, tacking up seasonal window insulation, ie: shrinkwrapped plastic on the inside of the windows.
4. Bulk Up On Insulation
You need 12 inches of insulation. If you head up to your attic and you can see the ceiling joists, you need more. Since we live in Illinois, having too much insulation is a way better idea than having too little, so feel free to beef it up to 16” – 20”. This is one of those areas that bringing in a professional might not be such a bad idea.
5. Bring in the Hoses and Check the Pipes
If you can see the pipes that connect to the inside of your home and you are in a non-heated area, they can freeze. They should be wrapped with pipe insulation made from foam or fiberglass. Be proactive and empty your garden hoses of water and bring them in the house. You can always pull them back out, but once they’ve had frozen water in them, they are kaput.
6. Annual Safety Checks
Check the batteries on your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors. Maybe you took down the kitchen smoke detector because every time you light the oven, it goes off. Now is a good time to find a new place to hardwire it. Check the safety tag on your fire extinguisher and be sure it is within it’s date compliance.
7. Inspect and Sweep Your Chimney
And finally, hire in a Certified Chimney Sweep™ to inspect and clean your fireplace. Nothing says home sweet home like a winter night by the fire, but that will all be ruined if the fire smokes you out of your home or worse. This is one of those things best left to a professional, a Certified Chimney Sweep™ in fact.
Although you might not need a cleaning every year, the CSIA does recommend an inspection annually. A Level 1 service will make sure you are ready to go for the winter season. If you are in the far western Chicago suburbs, Valley Chimney can help you with a Level 1 sweep. If you are not in our area, we highly recommend finding a CSIA Certified Sweep here.
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