Fall checklist: Five must-do's before winter hits
It’s that time of year again: the days are getting shorter, the thermostat is starting to drop, and the sweaters have migrated from the basement to your closet once again. Grab a mug of hot chocolate and take a survey on your home's cold weather readiness. Read on for five simple tips to brace yourself for winter.
1. Tuck away the last remnants of summer
As much as it hurts to admit that summer is really gone, protecting your outdoor faucets and other fixtures is important to complete before the temperature starts to drop. Covering and winterizing the pool and draining and disconnecting the hose can help protect outdoor plumbing from freezing and causing expensive damage. If your hose hookup does not have a shut-off valve, check your local hardware store for a foam faucet cover to protect it from freezing.
While you're at it, tuck patio furniture, hammocks, or other outdoor comforts away for the season, or risk replacing them next spring. Don't have a safe space to keep them out of the way? Grab a weather-proof cover, available for about $40 on Amazon.
2. Get your mind out of the gutter!
While it seems like a minor detail, a clogged gutter in the winter can cause big-ticket damage to your home. All the water it (should) collect and drain away from your home can be redirected into your walls or basement. Even worse, backed-up water could freeze, resulting in a heavy block of ice which may cause your gutters to literally rip away from your roof, creating easy access for more water to get inside your home.
3. Find and stop drafts
Drafty windows and doors can account for a big increase in your home heating costs, up to 10% of your total bill. A bit of weatherstripping and some caulk are all you need to seal these leaky spots and create a warmer, more comfortable living space as the winter chill kicks in. A door snake is another cheap and easy way to keep cold air from sneaking from basements into warmer living spaces.
Check the weatherstripping around your doors – does a candle flame flicker when held near your doorway? If so, you likely have a gap, or your weatherstripping is aged and no longer doing its job. For a few dollars, you can buy a new set to install quickly and easily with no special tools or materials. Typically, just a few screws or nails is all it takes to make your home much cozier this winter!
4. Flip your fans
A ceiling fan is a welcome addition to any home in the summer months, but did you know that many ceiling fans have a switch (or if they're super fancy, a remote control button) to reverse the direction that the fan blades spin? Keeping the rotation counterclockwise in summer pushes air down to the ground to create a cool breeze, while swapping the direction to clockwise can help circulate warm air around the room as it rises, making the room more comfortable in cooler months.
5. Get that heat ready to rock
A well-maintained heating system is the most important way to keep your whole family comfortable once the cold wind of winter makes its way into town. A yearly inspection and regular maintenance are important to catch any issues before they become larger, colder problems. Check in with your heating technician, or find a new one using our contractor locator, to check out your heating system at least once a year and to clean out any filters that may be reducing its efficiency.