We recently got our first taste of the inevitable approach of winter. Overnight temperatures dropped near or below freezing. It was cloudy and damp. Some of us even broke out our winter coats.
These tips will help take advantage of what warm weather we have left to get our home ready for the really harsh weather to come.
• Give your home heating system a pre-winter tune-up. Contact a heating and air conditioning contractor soon to inspect your furnace or heat pump, making sure the system is clean, in good shape and operating at peak efficiency. The contractor will also check to see if there is a carbon monoxide danger. Do this as soon as possible. You don’t want to be at the bottom of the service list when it gets really cold.
• Inspect your roof. Look for damaged, loose or missing shingles that could leak. Also inspect the metal flashing in the valleys and around chimneys. Winter storms and melting snow can cause destruction and leaks leading to costly repairs and mold.
• Protect your home’s roof and attic from damaging ice formations. Ice dams can cause water to back up and flow into your house when temperatures rise above freezing. Have a home insulation and weatherization contractor identify if you have adequate insulation or need to fix any air leaks in your attic that can lead to ice dams. Ice dams can also be caused by water backing up and freezing in plugged gutters and downspouts, so be sure to clean all debris, leaves and branches from them.
• Be sure to turn off and drain your exterior water faucets. Disconnect all garden hoses and drain them too. Undrained water in pipes can freeze, causing them to burst as the ice expands, often going undetected until spring when temperatures rise and water flows unstopped.
• Check the seals around windows, doors and siding. If you can see gaps, you need to reapply caulk or sealant. Use a silicone caulk for the exterior. It won’t shrink, and it withstands the elements well.
• Test your sump pump. Melting snow on frozen ground is a major cause of basement flooding. Pour several gallons of water slowly into the sump pit. The pump should turn on and drain the water. Sump pumps last about 10 years, so replace yours if it’s nearing that mark.
• The garage door is the biggest entrance to your home and possibly the largest drain on your home’s energy efficiency. Close the door and inspect it from the inside. Do you see light shining through anywhere? Also, check the door for air coming through. Raise the door about halfway and check the seal for any rips or tears.
• Make sure your chimney is doing its job too! It carries dangerous gases from the furnace, fireplace, water heater and wood stoves safely out of your home. Have a certified chimney sweep verify your chimney and vents are clean and in good repair. Doing so will prevent chimney fires and prevent deadly carbon monoxide creeping into your home.
• Some experts recommend mowing your leaves instead of raking them. If you cut dry leaves to about the size of a dime, they filter down into the grass, decompose and fertilize your lawn over the winter.
• Finally, if you haven’t done so already, trim branches away from roofs and electrical wires to prevent damage and power outages due to ice and wind.
Cold weather is going to make its stand sooner or later. Making sure your home is ready for winter will help you stay healthy, warm and cozy, while saving you energy and money.
Cheryl Parson is president of the Better Business bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at www.lima.bbb.org.