11 Tips For Preparing Your Home For Winter
Trying to get seasonal home servicing in the dead of winter or at the height of a blizzard could turn into a major fail. Why? The professionals you need may be backed up with other clients, or they simply may not get to you due to weather-ravaged roads.
The best time to winterize your home is before the winter happens. Although not all emergencies can be avoided with this strategy, there are some things you can do ahead of time to avoid trouble during the cold, dark weather days to come.
This list below details some tips for how to get your home ready for winter. It could help you as you start preparing your home for winter weather.
Checking the HVAC Systems
HVAC systems typically last between 12 and 15 years. Regular maintenance can play a big role in how long your HVAC system lasts. Keeping up with regular maintenance could be worth it in the long run.
Before the winter turns ugly, consider scheduling an HVAC contractor to inspect the unit and replace the filters. Double-check the warranty on the system to see what’s been done so far (if anything), and what is due to be done.
As part of your HVAC review, take a look at the furnace too. Consider doing a quick test of the system by turning the heat on to make sure the furnace and heating system is operating correctly. If you notice any problems, you may want to consider bringing in a qualified professional to evaluate any potential issues.
The ultimate idea is to keep your systems well maintained. The last thing you’ll want is for the system to break down in the middle of a snowstorm or cold snap when those HVAC professionals will likely be especially busy.
Examining the Water Heater for Leaks
Take a look at your water heater. Are there any signs of rust or corrosion? These could signal a leak and might require a deeper look by a professional before the bitter winter sets in.
A professional can clean the pipes, bleed the system, and recommend what parts need to be replaced. Think of it this way: this system will be running nonstop, and maintenance now could help avoid a break down in the middle of a deep freeze.
Reinforce the Roof
Roofs are often overlooked when it comes to preparing your home for winter. However, they age over time and are expected to be replaced periodically. Walking on a roof can cause further damage if you don’t know how to handle it or what you’re supposed to be looking for, so it may be best to leave a roof inspection up to a professional.
A recommended roofer can check for excessive wear and especially leaks. In cold weather, roof adhesive may not hold well. Don’t wait until the first snowstorm to discover what’s wrong up there. While you’re at it, check the roof from inside the house as well: ceiling, wall, and skylight leaks could mean roof trouble.
Cleaning the Gutters
The leaves are pretty when they turn colors, but it’s not a pretty sight when they clog your gutters. Blocked gutters can cause water to seek its flow somewhere else, perhaps your basement, roof, or walls. Then you’ll have new problems. Water spilling and spreading from clogged gutters can turn to ice, which can cause accidents (and lawsuits).
Sealing Windows and Doors
Wood rots and warps. Paint chips. Basements leak. Heat slipping out of cracks and openings won’t keep you warm (but you’ll pay for it anyway).
Conversely, cold air coming in from the outside will make your heating system work harder (you’ll also work harder having to pay off your high winter heating bills).
When sealing your windows and doors, be sure to check both inside and outside. If one side or the other is not properly sealed, you could suffer a leakage or draft problem. Do this in the fall, not the winter; caulking dries better in the autumn temps.
Starting Spring Cleaning Early
It’s possible that you may be spending more time in your house in the winter than in the summer. If so, it could be a good time to get a head start on spring cleaning, which could include carpet cleaning and disinfecting. Killing germs may help you and your family avoid common winter illnesses like the cold or flu.
Packing up Outdoor Furniture
Protect your patio furniture through the winter months by carefully covering and storing it. If possible, storing outdoor furniture covered or in a garage or shed to protect it from moisture and the winter elements.
Stocking up on Salt
The time to buy salt to keep your sidewalks and driveway from icing? Now. Not the night before the Big Storm, when your store will more than likely be sold out, or they may jack up the price (because they can). While you’re at it, buy a few extra backup shovels, just in case the ones you currently have a break.
It’s also worth creating a game plan for snow removal now. Decide if you plan to hire out the job or if you’ll do it yourself. If it’s the former, make arrangements now, not during the first storm of the season. If it’s the latter, check the state of your shovels or snowblower to make sure they are in working order.
Cleaning and Inspecting Your Fireplace
Don’t build that fire until an inspection professional gives your fireplace a good look-over and says it’s okay. There are local chimney sweep companies you can find online, and they can sweep your area clean and make it winter-ready.
You may also want to store your firewood away from your home, as rodents and other pests love to nest in there. Also, make sure your firewood isn’t rotting.
Taking winterizing precautions ahead of time may help you ultimately save on your heating and energy costs. For example, if you have an older or faulty furnace, you may want to consider a new one that earns an ENERGY STAR® rating .
That means that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given its blessing to the model you’re considering because it meets or exceeds strict governmental-issued efficiency guidelines. Plus, it will help you keep your home green, even during snowstorms.
Once your home is fully winterized, you can use the winter to do those remodeling projects you’ve been considering. Contractors may be more available to you in the winter than in other seasons, and materials may be more available (because they’re less in demand).
You also may be able to negotiate lower rates and get your permits cleared faster (since the lines aren’t as long). Even indoor painting may be to your advantage during winter months, as colder air helps paint dry faster.
Paying for Home Winterization Costs
Knowing how to prepare your home for winter is just the first step. Paying for the maintenance and upgrades is the next. If you need to address winterization and remodeling issues now but may not have the funds to cover them, consider a SoFi personal loan.
Qualifying borrowers may be able to secure relatively low interest rates, which means using a personal loan could potentially save you money when compared to paying for the maintenance with a credit card. SoFi personal loans are 100% free of fees; no origination, prepayment, or late fees.
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