How To Prepare For The Cooler Days Ahead

In case you hadn't quite realized, the holidays and...yes...cold weather, are quickly approaching! Prepare your structure for the cold months ahead with these tips!

 

Exterior Maintenance

  • Check your building's foundation for cracks and caulk around the areas where masonry meets siding, where pipes or wires enter the building, and around the windows and door frames to prevent heat from escaping (and mice from getting in!). Openings in the structure can cause water to get in and freeze, resulting in cracks and mold build up. Winter can bring very harsh conditions resulting in water or ice damage, so a careful check of the outside structure combined with inexpensive maintenance can save you money in the long run.
  • Inspect exterior walls to see if any paint is peeling or blistering on outer walls. Peeling paint is a sign that the existing paint film is failing and can no longer protect the structure of the building. Left uncorrected, the siding itself may deteriorate, leading to expensive repairs in the future.
  • Install storm windows and doors and remove screens. Before storing, clean and repair screens, spray with a protective coating, and place in a dry area until the weather warms up.
  • After leaves have fallen, clean out the gutters and downspouts, flush them with water, inspect joints, and tighten brackets if necessary. Clogged gutters are one of the major causes of ice dams. If possible, replace old or damaged gutters with new ones that have built-in leaf guards.
  • Weather-strip your garage door, if applicable. Make sure the seal between your garage door and the ground is tight to prevent drafts and keep out small animals.
  • Make sure the roof is in good shape. Inspect for missing and loose shingles. Ice, rain, snow, and wind combined with quickly changing temperatures and humidity wreak havoc on roofs. Your roof is your first defense in protecting your home or business. Without it functioning properly, water damage can occur. This causes deterioration to insulation, wood, and drywall, making electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems vulnerable to damage. It’s better to proactively deal with repairs in the fall than to discover a leaky roof during a snowstorm. For safety’s sake, have a licensed, certified roofing professional check the condition of your roof.
  • Inspect your driveway and/or parking lot for cracks. Clean out and repair any damage with driveway filler, then coat with a commercial sealer.

 

Interior Maintenance

  • If applicable, get your wood stove and fireplace in working order. Examine your wood stove or fireplace insert’s door gasket for a tight seal. Also, clean and inspect the unit for cracks and have the chimney cleaned by a licensed chimney sweep. A clogged chimney poses the risk of a chimney fire, which can be ignited by burning creosote—a combination of wood tar, organic vapors and moisture buildup.
  • “Heating and cooling amount to 47% of the energy costs in your building. Proper sealing and insulation can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs, or up to 10% on your total annual energy bill,” says Katie Cody, spokeswoman for Lowe's. “Air leaks from windows and doors are easy to find by moving your hand around the frame. Applying weather stripping and caulk to these areas will help cut down on drafts.”
  • Vacuum internal parts of air conditioners. Remove units from windows or wrap outside box with an approved tarp or plastic air conditioner cover in order to prevent rusting of vital parts.  
  • Clean your humidifiers regularly during the heating season. Bacteria and spores can develop in a dirty water tank resulting in unclean moisture misting out into your space and causing illness.
  • Change the direction of ceiling fans to create an upward draft that redistributes warm air from the ceiling.
  • Test and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon dioxide detectors and keep extra batteries on hand.
  • Have your heating system checked by a licensed heating contractor. Heating systems will use fuel more efficiently, last longer, and have fewer problems if properly serviced. 
  • Check basement/underground windows for drafts, loose frames, or cracked panes.

 

Lawn & Garden

  • Check to see that all of your snow equipment is up and running before the first flurry falls. Organize your snow clearing gear. When snow arrives, you’ll want to have shovels, roof rakes, and snow blowers where you can get to them. Be careful where you store equipment - equipment that is stored out in the elements, exposed to heat and cold extremes, can develop problems when the gasoline can no longer vaporize and flow into the combustion chamber of the engine.
  • Clear leaves from lawn, reseed patchy areas, and plant spring flowering bulbs. If deer are a problem, start deer-proofing by covering plants with netting and chicken wire.
  • Prepare lawn equipment for storage. This includes draining fuel from all gas-operated equipment such as lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and chain saws. 
  • Inspect and fill bird feeders. Keep in mind that once you start feeding birds you should continue on a regular basis throughout the winter months.
  • Drain garden hoses and store them inside. Also, shut off outdoor water valves in cold weather. Any water left in exterior pipes and faucets can freeze and expand, causing pipes to burst.
  • Fertilize the lawn with a high phosphorous mix to ensure healthy grass in the spring.

Tips provided by Bobvila.com