How to Prepare Your Home Before Winter
As heard on 92.3 The Tide
As summer winds down, the days become shorter and cooler weather sets in, we naturally begin to spend more time inside our homes. Fall is an ideal time to perform some home maintenance to make sure your home is safe, comfortable, and healthy inside and out.
Your Home's Exterior
Starting with the exterior of the home, you will want to provide a first line of defense for animals, insects, and water and air intrusion.
Inspect doors and windows for damage, signs of rot, or any gaps or cracks.
Make repairs and apply weather stripping or caulk to seal.
Inspect your home’s exterior for any damage (roof, ventilation screens, siding, and foundation) and make repairs as needed. If your home is on an unconditioned crawl space, close the foundation vents around the home. (We can talk later about why you should have a conditioned crawl space.)
Clean your gutters and downspouts, especially after all the leaves have fallen. Clean gutters help if tropical storms come through, and in cold weather, clogged gutters can lead to ice dams. It is also important to clean any drains in the yard or drainage areas around doors or window wells to make sure they do not get backed up during storms.
Turn off the water to outdoor hose bibbs to prevent freezing. Disconnect and drain garden hoses and store them inside. If you have rain barrels, make sure to have them disconnected or prepped for winter.
As we begin to move to the interior of your home - have your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional.
Preparing Inside Your Home
As we tend to spend more time inside the home during the winter, it is important to make sure that the area is safe and healthy for everyone in the home.
Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace their batteries as needed, recharge fire extinguishers, and test for radon every two years.
Make sure to have your heating system cleaned and serviced to ensure proper operation for the winter - It is never good to be on a waiting list for the furnace to be repaired after the first cold snap!
Replace or clean the air filters in your HVAC regularly, we suggest about every 3 months. If you use a disposable filter, we recommend a MERV rating of at least 11 to control pollen, dust mites, sawdust, textile and carpet fibers, mold spores, general household dust, concrete dust, legionella, lead dust, coal dust, nebulizer, and humidifier dust. If you move to a MERV 13, the filter will also be able to handle bacteria, tobacco smoke, sneeze particles, and pet dander. Check with your HVAC technician to find out the maximum rating for your system.
If your home has carpets, Fall is an ideal time to give them a deep clean. This will remove any deep-down dirt and debris that can cause irritations which may occur more over the winter months as you spend more time inside.
Clean your dryer vent from the dryer to the exterior. This should be done at least once a year to reduce the risk of a dryer fire.
And one last item
Finally, we recommend draining and flushing your hot water heater. This will help maintain and preserve the life span of your water heater. Periodic draining of the unit can flush out debris that can accumulate in the bottom of the tank and may rust it out over time. This can be done anytime of year, but fall is great as you are preparing those garden hoses already so you have them handy to use.
Start by turning off the water heater and the water supply to it.
Connect a hose to the drain valve of the water heater and open the valve to drain the tank into a nearby sink or to the outside.
Once drained, turn on the water to the tank to flush out any remaining debris.
Finally, close the drain valve, turn the water back on, and then power to the water heater once it has refilled.
Mark Redman is a NKBA Certified Kitchen and Bath Designer (CKBD) and a Certified Living in Place Professional (CLIPP) with over 30 years of award-winning experience.
Mark is a trusted mentor/advisor to both remodelers and homeowners.