September 22nd ushered in the first day of fall. We are not quite thirty days into the season yet, but we are noticing crisper, shorter days. Overnight temperatures will be dropping to near or below freezing and many of you will be breaking out winter coats (if you haven’t already).
Preparing for winter may not feel necessary, or even be at the top of your mind yet, but now is the time to begin getting your home and property ready for Old Man Winter’s onslaught.
Take advantage of what warm weather we have left to get your home ready for the harsh weather to come. Here are 10 quick tips to prepare your home for winter.
• 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 things get really cold.
• 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 weatherization contractor identify if you have adequate insulation. Have him check for air leaks in your attic that can lead to ice dams. Plugged gutters and downspouts can also cause ice dams, so be sure to clean them, too.
• Inspect your roof for damaged, lose or missing shingles. Inspect the metal flashing in the valleys and around chimneys for leaks which can result in costly repairs and mold.
• Turn off and drain exterior water faucets. Undrained water in pipes can freeze and burst, often going undetected until spring when temperatures rise, and water flows unstopped. Disconnect garden hoses and drain as well.
• Check the seals around windows, doors and siding for gaps. Reapply caulk or sealant if needed, using an exterior silicone caulk
• Melting snow on frozen ground is a major cause of basement flooding, so test your sump pump by pouring several gallons of water slowly into the sump pit. The pump should turn on and drain the water. The life expectancy of a sump pump is about 10 years, so replace yours if it’s nearing that mark.
• The garage door is often overlooked when prepping for winter. It is the biggest entrance to your home and often the largest drain on your home’s energy efficiency. Close the door and inspect it from the inside for any light shining through. Raise the door and check the seal for any rips or tears.
• Have a certified chimney sweep inspect your chimney and vents, assuring they are clean and in good repair and doing their job. They carry dangerous gases from the furnace, fireplace, water heater, and wood stoves out of your home. Doing so will prevent chimney fires and prevent deadly carbon monoxide from creeping into your home.
• Avoid power outages caused by ice and wind by trimming branches away from roofs and electrical wires.
• Consider 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.
Be aware you may have a limited time to get these things done. In our area, it can be 75 degrees one day, and 40 degrees the next. Cold weather will drive us indoors, so ensure your home stays cozy by following these tips.
Reghan Winkler is executive director of the Better Business Bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at bbb.org/us/oh/lima.