Five tips to get your home ready for winter.

Well it is that time of year to start thinking about winter and what we need to do to get our homes ready. Here are a few steps that may save you some grief if you take the time to implement them. I don’t mean to be rude but if you are like me and most people we tend to have an attitude that if it is not broke, don’t worry about it. It is that attitude that will cost you a lot of dollars down the road, so have a look at these winterizing tips and do some preventative maintenance now instead of the mad scramble later.

First of all check the hose bib, if it is not a frost free style it will need to be turned off and drained before the cold weather freezes the pipe and fills your basement with water. Even the frost bibs will freeze if they do not drain as designed. They must slope down so the water drains out and you should never leave the hose connected.

A second tip is to get your furnace ready. Open the front panel and check the belt if there is one. Many belts I see are cracked almost all the way through. When they break the furnace will not run long before a safety switch shuts it down and when that happens in the dead of winter it is going to cost you to have a repair person come out. Save yourself the head ache and the money, check it now. Check the motor as well if it starts very slow or not at all, it may be time to replace it. Finally make sure the filter is clean and you have a few extras for the long winter.

Tip number three is to go around and check the building envelope. Many older homes have poor fitting windows and doors. By walking around the outside you may see windows that are not properly closed for instance. Now is the time to push it closed before it builds up with ice and can’t be closed later. Add the plastic heat shrink sheets early if the windows are drafty. Stand back and look at the roof for missing shingles that may have blown off during the summer, missing shingles often equal leaks from melting spring snow.

Tip number four is to plan early how to deal with snow. This past spring I witnessed many flooded basements because people piled the snow off the driveway up against the house. I always say a basement is like an in ground pool it wants to be full of water, by piling snow against the house it just may be.

Tip five is to check your insulation in the attic. Heat rises so most heat is lost through the ceiling. You should have approximately 12” of insulation in the attic, if not consult with an insulator to discuss your needs and get more insulation installed professionally. You can add your own insulation but you must do it right so ask about how this is done. If you do it wrong you could create  ice damming and other problems.