When summer draws to a close and autumn arrives, homeowners must place a priority on readying their homes for the winter months. The winterizing process is meant to ensure that a home can withstand harsh winter weather while providing a safe haven from the elements.
Fix leaks. A leaky home will prove an expensive home during the winter months. A home with many leaks will be much colder to inhabit, and homeowners typically turn up the heat to counter drafts that can make a home feel like a meat locker. But turning up the thermostat isn’t the answer. Instead, fix leaks in the fall before the cold weather arrives.
Leaks should not be very hard to find. On the first breezy autumn afternoon, walk around the house in search of any drafty areas. These drafts will be noticeable and often occur around doors and window frames, electrical outlets and even recessed lighting.
Homeowners have a host of options at their disposal to plug leaks, from door sweeps that block air from entering under exterior doors to caulk applied around leaky windows. When using caulk outdoors, be sure to use a weather-resistant caulk or, if sealing brick, use masonry sealer.
Add insulation upstairs. Homeowners who have an attic in their homes might want to consider adding some insulation up there. Experts recommend a minimum of 12 inches of insulation in the attic. That might prove costly, but a poorly insulated attic is akin to opening the front door and letting the heat out.
It might be best for less-than-handy homeowners to hire a professional to insulate the attic. But do-it-yourselfers might find it good to know that if the ceiling joists, which are often 11 inches or less, are visible, then the attic is in need of additional insulation. Such joists won’t be visible in an adequately insulated attic.
Put up the storm windows. It’s nice to open the windows in the spring and summer and let the warm air waft in through the screens. But when summer is over, it’s time to put up the storm windows once again.
Storm windows add an extra layer of protection from the elements and are especially valuable in homes with single-pane glass windows. Homeowners who don’t have storm windows should consider upgrading their existing windows. Such a project isn’t cheap, but newer windows will almost certainly lead to lower heating costs, meaning the project will essentially pay for itself over time.
Homeowners who can’t afford to replace all of their windows don’t have to replace them all at once. Instead, replace them a few at a time and make the rooms where you spend the most time each winter the first on the list to receive new windows.
Be diligent with gutters. Leaves falling from trees is an idyllic image associated primarily with autumn. Unfortunately, when leaves fall, they often fall into the gutters. Routinely clean the gutters once the leaves start to fall.
Clean gutters will allow snow and rain to effectively drain through the gutters. If the gutters are clogged, snow might have nowhere to go when it begins to melt, and roof damage might result. Such damage is costly but preventable in most instances. One of the easier preventive measures to take is to routinely clean the gutters of leaves and other debris that accumulate during the fall.
When cleaning the gutters, make sure they are properly aligned. Poorly aligned gutters can lead to a host of problems. One such problem is flooding. If downspouts are not properly aligned with the rest of the gutters, then water might not be directed away from the home as it’s intended. Instead, water might flow toward the home, resulting in flooding or additional water damage.
Have the furnace cleaned. Experts recommend annual furnace cleanings. Before cold weather arrives, turn the furnace on to make sure it’s still working. An unpleasant odor should appear when first turning on the furnace, but it shouldn’t last very long. If the odor sticks around, turn the furnace off and call a professional. Once winter arrives, routinely replace the filters. This makes the furnace operate more efficiently and can also reduce the risk of fire.