Winterizing Tips 2010

As the nights start getting colder and fall and winter approach it is time to start thinking about getting your home ready for winter. A well taken care of home has a much higher resale value and also can prevent more costly repairs in the future.

1.  Check the exterior of the home.

  • Inspect the paint to make sure any peeling areas are sanded and painted. At this point if your exterior paint is really bad and you don’t have time to do a whole house painting it is better to at least sand and paint the areas that are especially bad
  • Make sure all caulking is still intact and does not need to be replaced, especially around windows and doors.

2.  Inspect your Roof and Gutters

  • Make sure there are no loose shingles and that all the flashing is intact and still working.  A quick patch on the roof may save you having to replace the whole thing if it is a very windy winter. Yes we have had experience with this. You do NOT want you roof blowing off in the middle of a windstorm due to the fact that you didn’t tack down loose shingles.
  • Gutters and Downspouts need to be clean and free of any debris. Downspouts should be angled to drain away from the house foundation to prevent water from accumulating under the house. This sometimes requires buying extensions to redirect the water.

3. Check you Foundation

  • Rake away all debris and vegetation from touching your foundation and siding.
  • Make sure small animals do not have access to your crawlspace. As the weather gets colder small animals such as cats, rats, racoons, possums, and skunks (Yes skunks, nothing worse then having a skunk take up residence under house. Especailly if you have dogs that think they need to dispatch of the skunk through the floor boards) will try to find shelter and your crawlspace makes a great home.

4. Service you yard tools

  • If your lawn is done growing then drain the gas out of the lawn mower. This would be an ideal time to take it in to be serviced and have the blade sharpened.
  • Clean, oil and inspect  all your garden equipment. Tighten loose screws and replace handles that are cracking.
  • Have a bag of Pet and Plant Safe Ice/Snow Melt and your snow shovel handy.

5. Prepare your Garden and Landscaping

  • Trim all branches that are close to the house or wires.
  • Clean up leaves and dead plants.
  • Purchase some cheery flowers to brighten up bare flower beds, such as winter pansies and primroses.
  • Prune trees that are supposed to be pruned in the fall/winter.

6. Check you Smoke Detectors

  • Make sure you smoke detectors are working and have fresh batteries.
  • Consider installing carbon monoxide detectors if you don’t already have them.  These are especially important to install by your furnace and water heater.
  • Inspect your fire extinguishers and consider buying one if you do not have one already. Important to get the kind that can put out grease and electrical fires (think toaster)

7. Plumbing

  • Make sure you know where your main water shut off is in case you have a pipe freeze.
  • Drain all your garden hoses and detach them from faucets. Also you can cover you faucets if you get hard freezes.
  • Check to make sure all your pipes are insulated and there are no tears in the insulation.
  • Consider wrapping your Hot Water Heater in a insulating blanket.
  • If you leave for a vacation be sure that your heat is at least 55 degrees for the whole time you are gone.

8.  Service your furnace and fireplace

  • This may be as simple as changing filters and doing a visual inspection of the pipes and wires if you have had your furnace professionally cleaned in the last year.
  • If not you will need to have a licensed professional come out and clean and inspect your furnace. A clean furnace and filter run much more efficiently and can actually lower your heating bill. You will need to change your filters much more often in the winter, sometimes as often as monthly in the months that require the heater on all the time.
  • If you have a fireplace you will want to make sure no debris are in your chimney. Birds and rodents can get into the smallest places and create all sorts of problems.
  • Do a visual inspection of the mortar and make sure it is not crumbling. Make sure your firewood is chopped and stacked in a dry place so it will heat efficiently.
  • Make sure your chimney caps and screens are on securely.

9. Have an Emergency Kit

  • Candles, Matches/lighter, flashlights with fresh batteries available (better to store the batteries outside of the flashlight and put them in as needed).
  • Have utility companies numbers  accessible.
  • Have some bottled water and some non-perishable food. Don’t forget your pets have some of there food set aside as well.
  • First aid kit
  • blankets
  • Prepare an evacuation plan ready in case of emergency.

And if I have thoroughly depressed you with all these reminders of Winter please enjoy these sunset picture brought to you by the colder cloudy days 🙂

And one more picture of the Maryland House Flowers. Notice how the white hydrangea has turned to pink.

Click here if you want to see what the hydrangea  looked like in white (about 6th picture down).

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