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How to Winter-Proof Your Home (Before It’s Too Late!)

How to Winter-Proof Your Home (Before It’s Too Late!)

We just returned from a trip to the Northwest Pacific area. The fresh autumn air and vibrant colors reminded us that autumn has arrived. So, our good friends northern it s time to set about fall and winter house maintenance.

On one of the coldest winter days, you get out of bed and notice your breath. You check the thermostat, only to realize that the furnace has become inoperable.

Through winters and autumns, we have all had a pipe burst, drafty windows or unwanted little visitors intruding to sneak out of the cold. That's why you should know of the significance of fall/winter maintenance.

So tackle this fall and winter home maintenance checklist now! The weather is still pleasant so you have plenty of time to complete this checklist. Taking one Saturday to run down this checklist of home and yard prep can prevent a winter emergency.

How to Winter-Proof Your Home (Before It’s Too Late!)

1. Clean Gutters

Clear leaves and debris from the gutters about the roof. Doing this doesn't take long but can require a ladder and usually a second set of hands. Go the outside of your house and clear out clogged gutters and piles. Look for squirrels and nests that may be living in your roof.

As for awnings, you'll need to clean them off as well and watch out for areas where gutters are coming away from your home. Keep an eye out for any small cracks or breaks that might develop into an even bigger issue due to heat and heavy ice.

When installing new gutters, be certain that the caps on top of the gutters are installed properly. You may want to run a hose into the gutter to clean the water flow and make sure it is clear. Make sure that your downspout is angled away from your residence. If you have an aversion to water hitting the foundation, purchase simple extensions that attach to the end of your downspout to redirect the flow. (You'll thank yourself for when it's rainy or snowing.)

2. Check Windows, Roofs & Doors

Before you begin your project, be sure to check all of the windows at your house. When you have a magnifying device and look at your roof and even any shingles that look loose or raised, this task takes only a few minutes, but it can help you stop much bigger problems later on. If you have storm windows, remove everything aside from your screens from the windows. Inspect the structure of whatever molding surrounds each window and the seal. If you believe you may have a leak, feel free to check it from the inside of your home. Simply wet your hand and hold it a few inches from the edge around the window. If there's leakage, you'll feel air blowing on your hand. Caulk cracks and small leaks to keep windows tightly sealed.

When inspecting your external doors and windows, you may want to inspect the kickplate and seal. Weather and moisture can weaken the kickplate and seal in sunlight, creating gaps, cracks, and leaks. Yet by repairing the seal and kickplate, you can prevent warm air from entering your home during the winter, saving you time as well as money on your heating bill!

If you discover roof leaks and broken shingles, it may be necessary to call a specialist to assess any repairs needed. Don't let fear of an expensive roof or window repairs keep you from calling in a specialist! These problems get much worse over time. A $200 repair now will be much better than a $5,000 fix later.

3. Inspect the Health of Your Basement

Walk the perimeter of your home and examine your basement or foundation's walls. Check your basement's walls and floor for indications of leakage and moisture, including bubbles, growing paint or grey and discoloured stains. As the soil advances, it seems to turn green or black, and you may see cracks that appear (it's definitely time to be calling in an expert).

Pay attention to the sump pump and as you will see, also your basement drains. It's unpleasant, I know, but give them a whiff at first. While they didn't usually smell nice, drains mustn't have a strong, sour, or dirty smell. Also run some water down your basement drains to see how quickly it runs. Another major storm is a good moment to call your plumber to fix the drains. Many drains become clogged with tree roots during the summer season, and your plumber can recommend a product that you can run through the drains to clear the roots. Do this consistently to prevent flooding and backups. 

If suspected, don't panic; many times it's just a matter of patching up a crack with a dab of plaster and some mildew-resistant paint. At other times, the problem may be due to your lawn's grade (which can be easily corrected by simply adding more dirt once your vegetation has withered). Neglecting a potentially crucial problem is a quick way to make a significant investment in residential property.

4. Get Heat Sources Ready for Winter

Early fall is an excellent time to schedule an annual maintenance check with a heating specialist. The technician should examine all the ducts to make sure your vents are open, in addition to change the furnace filters. Generally, the filters should be changed at least once per season, and it is beneficial to have them changed every couple of months.

If you don't have ceiling fans, turn them around to push hot air upwards. This will keep warm air in your house more evenly circulated. Check any space heaters to ensure they are in good condition. A space heater is not an instrument to take a gamble with!

If you have a fireplace, it's time to prepare it to have one serviced and have the flue cleaned. Get a chimney looked at at least once a year (with more regular use) to keep it in good working order. Gas fireplaces should also be checked regularly as the ceramic logs could deteriorate and create fire hazards.

5. Check Water Spouts, Sprinklers & Hoses

There's nothing more horrifying than a broken pipe frozen in the winter! When you decide it's spring, it's the perfect opportunity to go ahead and drain your irrigation system and hose from the lawn. (If you live in a colder region, be sure you turn off the outside water faucets.) You prevent water from acquiring a cold and bursting inside the pipe, which could result in a flooding situation.

Turn off the spigots of all hoses, wind them up, and save them. Make sure they dry out and are stored off the ground to extend their life span.

Shut off the irrigation system and switch off the pipes. Turn off your irrigation system from the main valve, after which this needs to be insulated and protected in harsh cold environments. A very basic foam insulation material can be bought by home improvement stores for a few dollars. Wrap them with insulating material.

6. Clean Flower & Garden Beds

Clear all the flower beds of leaves, weeds, and other debris. Remove any dormant perennials and cut back any overgrown growth to prepare for the forthcoming freeze. Beds are readied for resting for the winter.

Prune trees and shrubs now, as they are not in their growing season and they can't heal, making them susceptible to frost and disease. You can, however, cut off the plants and flowers. Cut down vine to ground level. Harvest the vegetation you have learned and pull up the remaining vegetation to add to manure.

By now it is time to pull up the mountain of annuals as well. Yes, some of them will simply fade and come to be mulched back into the ground, but it will allow your spring garden to start fresh and prevent mold, mildew and pests. Little creatures like to conceal and reside in debris and overgrowth throughout the winter months, which makes them close proximity to your house.

7. Clear Leaves & Brush

Remove leaves, debris, and brush from your lawn, particularly around your foundation. If you've got raked leaves, add them to the compost pile. Many areas frequently offer leaves pickup or dumping services, so check your own city's schedule. Clear the pumpkins from your porch after Halloween and remove any cornstalks, hay, and other fall decor you may have.

Leaves and brush are the perfect place for the breeding of bugs and creepy crawlies, and it's no wonder that they are appealing to us. Gather up the leaves and dispose of them in autumn, or otherwise enjoy gathering them up and packing them!

Some bushes and young trees may require protection from cold temperatures. Contact your home and garden center staff for more information. There are simple coverings you can purchase and trunk protection to shield saplings from subzero winter temperatures. This may be needed only in particularly cold weather areas.

8. Mow, Weed & Feed the Lawn

Give your lawn one last trim prior to storing your mower for winter. A lawn that's trim will be dry and free of vermin and mice throughout the winter. The night before storing your mower, empty the gas tank to lengthen its life.

If you plant grass in the spring, it's most beneficial to do so before winter. Doing so will help your grass recover from the wear and tear of summer. (Consult the directions on your property and garden center staff.)

Clear your land of leaves, sticks, logs, and any other lawn furniture or decorations over winter so you won't have to do as much raking in the spring. That's the simplest part of lawn care during the winter!

9. Brighten Up with Bulbs & Birds

Winter gets long and dreary, so you can make the most out of the landscape by keeping it all year round. Plant some bulbs for the spring now, so you'll have something pretty to look forward to while winter is still hanging around. Tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths can be planted in fall, and when they crop up in the spring, you're set.

Plant bulbs sprout up from the base and spread out evenly. You can make a multicolored mixture of flower petals in bloom by alternating colors, or you can put an array of blooms in a cluster to be greeted with a rainbow in the spring! You can also plant flower bulbs in bowls and place them in the shed or garage until the start of winter or early spring.

Add a bird feeder to help the birds in your yard! When you watch them, they're definitely an amazing way to brighten the mood. Bird feeders can be acquired at any native lawn and garden store. You can spot the particular birds that are native to your region when your backyard is occupied by them!

10. Stock Up on Winter Supplies

Stay warm as you battle with the winter! Stock up on winter supplies, including ice melt, antifreeze, wiper fluid, and shovels. Have your snow blowers and shovels been checked recently? Are all your tools in good working order?

Make sure you keep an ice scraper in your car, as well as additional supplies you might need. You should keep cat food, salt, and extra ice melt in your trunk, too, in case you need them. You should also take your compact car in for a winter routine to inspect your car's tires, fuel filters, and battery. Store a shovel, a flashlight, road flares, and a blanket and handwarmers in your car.

Check stores for discounted seasonal items that you need. Most home improvement stores and garden centers offer promotional winter items during the winter. To request reliable supplies now, it's wiser to stock up than be caught empty handed in a cold situation.

Preparing your yard and home for winter does not need to be a big hassle. In just a weekend, your home and yard are tucked away, free you from concerns, and you can enjoy all the pleasures of the fall and winter months! Fall is a great time for sipping a pumpkin spice latte, trick or treating, and preparing for the upcoming holidays. Take some time now to free yourself up to focus on the things that might not have come off this season.

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