Top Ideas for Winterizing Your Home - Winter is Coming!
Winter is Coming!
Things to do to your house in the fall to get ready for winter.
This past weekend, I helped my friend winterize her house. I know, we’re not there yet – it’s only fall. Her husband is in the service and stationed in Hawaii. She was debating whether to spend the winter with her husband in Honolulu, or trudge through another New England winter. Good problem to have, right?
Anyway, we went through her house and made a checklist of things that we should get done before her flight. We did the usual things a homeowner would do when they plan on being away for a while: Getting copies of keys made for people looking over the house and giving me their Home Depot card, should there be any emergency repair needs (ch-ching).
Here is what we did and what you can do to get ready for winter while you’re still enjoying the fall.
Remove Your Window Air Conditioners
Pretty simple recommendation. This allows you to get a better seal around the windows, and if you’re AC is in a south facing window, you will be able to get more sunlight into your house. This will also extend the life of your AC. OR you can be like me. I was too lazy pull the AC out of the window in my apartment. By the time I got around to removing my AC, it was almost spring. Shame on me!
Clean Your Gutters and Took a Look at Your Roof
No, you don’t have to go on your roof. There are attachments to your leaf blower or to a power washer you can use if your gutters are less than 20ft above the ground. Just be careful of the wires going into your house from the power company. Fortunately for us, my friend’s house is a ranch, so I was able to climb up the ladder and clear out the leaves by hand.
Honestly, the cost to get your gutters professionally cleaned is really not that expensive, so it may be worth it for you to hire a professional. I like to clean the gutters early in the season so I can take a look at the roof and make sure there are not any broken shingles which may cause a leak after a snowstorm. If you’re confident in your roof or your roof is not that old, then you can wait to clean the gutters if you wish. Maybe even clean the gutters as you put up the Christmas lights, if that’s your thing.
Keep a Lookout for Branches Hanging Over Your House
Speaking of taking a look at your roof; take a look at the tree branches hanging near or over your house. Remember all of the downed branches everywhere from the remnants of recent and past storms? Well, more branches are going to be knocked down during the blizzards we will probably be encountering this winter. And please, call a professional for this. I am all about learning new things and grew up in the age of Google and YouTube, but Arborists are expensive for a reason – it’s dangerous work and there’s a lot at risk (property, power lines, etc.).
Tune Up Your Heater and Top off Your Tank
Ideally, you will top off your oil tank in the summer, when prices are at their lowest. Much like heating oil, propane is sold by the gallon. The best time to get propane is around October or November in order to get the lowest price.
The cost to get your heater cleaned and tuned up in the summer or fall pales in comparison to have tech come by in the middle of night, in the middle of winter. Besides making your furnace and boiler run more efficiently, a tech can look at your components and recommend what you need to replace before it breaks. Oil and gas companies usually offer a service contract that will cover a lot of the expensive repairs. This is well worth looking into.
Caulk Your Windows and Doors
Going back to my AC; Leaving it in made our boiler work harder. Fortunately for my roommates and me, we have a steam boiler. Steam boilers seem to know only one temperature setting – Sauna. This may have worked out for me because the drafty window got to cool down my room. Those of us who have a heating system from that later half of the 20th century may benefit from caulking their windows and doors because you can set your thermostat to a more reasonable temperature. Caulking the windows and doors reduces the draft, which allows the house to stay warmer and reduces the amount of times your heater has to fire up.
Do You Have Ceiling Fans?
Your ceiling fans spin counterclockwise in order to blow air down during the summer. What you may not know is that there is a switch on the fan that will make the fan spin clockwise. What does this do? The fan will now create an updraft, which will blow the cool air to the ceiling and blow the hot air down (hot air rises after all). This is especially helpful if you have high ceilings or cathedral ceilings. Potentially, this can allow you to stay warmer with the thermostat a couple degrees lower.
Use a ladder or a chair (not an office chair! I made that mistake before!) and with your fan turned off take a look for a small black switch on the hub part of the fan. This will make your fan change directions. And while you’re up there give your fan blades a good washing! Even better – a coat of turtle wax will make it easier to clean next time and makes it harder for dust to stick on the blades.
Get Your Chimney Swept and Pick up Firewood
Much like getting loose branches removed, hiring a professional chimney sweep is the way to go. Besides being cheap money, you will have peace of mind when you use your fireplace.
Although the fireplace is better used during the winter, autumn is bonfire season, so pick up a cord of firewood now before you end up having to stack wood in the winter. Stacking firewood is good exercise, too. Not as good exercise as chopping firewood, but just enough to give you a workout without hurting your back.
Winterize Your Lawnmower and Tune Up Your Snow Blower
You can put fuel stabilizer in your lawnmower, but your best bet is to run your mower until it runs out of gas. Because gasoline is cut with ethanol, the fuel is more likely to gum up your fuel lines and carburetors then pre-ethanol gasoline. If your tank is full and you don’t want to let your mower run for a while, you can add fuel stabilizer and let the mower run for 5-10 minutes. This will ensure the gas mixed with stabilizer makes it all the way through the engine.
The same can be done with you snowblower when you summerize it (is that even a word?). Now is a good time to add gas and a little bit of stabilizer and let it run for a couple minutes. That way, when it is about to snow, your snow blower will be ready to go. If your snow blower is not working, you will be a lot happier getting it fixed now than in the dead of winter. Nothing is worse than working on your snowblower during a storm instead of using it to clean your driveway.
What am I missing?
There’s probably a few things that I missed. Don’t worry – it will give me something to write about. And besides, there’s always that Home Depot card!
What about the pool, you ask? No pool at my friend's place, otherwise I would have been there a lot more this past summer. Besides, winterizing a pool is a project in and of itself. Stay posted this spring when I write about opening up a pool with eco-friendly pool cleaners.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it! I’m always looking for something to learn and write about, so if you have any feedback, book recommendations, or just feel like saying hi, my email it firstname.lastname@example.org.
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I am a sales rep for Associated Energy Developers, located in Plymouth, MA. We specialize in commercial solar and wind projects both locally and internationally.
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