As the days get shorter and nights get cooler, there is impending doom on the horizon for homeowners who forget to winterize their home. Most people just winterize or blow out their sprinkler system, but there are a few other things that you might want to do as well to keep your investment in top shape and prevent any big surprises in the spring. Here are 7 tips that are low cost and will prevent thousands of $$$ in repair costs.
Turning off your sprinkler system and having a ‘qualified’ person blow out any remaining water in the sprinkler lines is a must! It only costs about $25-$50 and could prevent you from spending hundreds or even thousands on broken lines, sprinkler-heads and back-flow devices.
Cracks in the Walkway or Driveway
While you may not be able to prevent cracks from forming in your driveway, you can help prevent them from getting worse. If you have a small crack in your concrete, now is the time to caulk it so that water doesn’t penetrate, freeze and then widen, or worse, lift your slab. Tubes of caulking can be found at many hardware stores, but make sure you get the right kind.
Having clean and well operating rain gutters is very important. Rain gutters are responsible for moving rain, melted snow and ice away from the home. They also help keep walkways from getting drenched during storms. What most people don’t realize are the hazards that are created when a rain gutter is full of debris and cannot drain. Clogged rain gutters will eventually create ice dams which can weaken and even damage the gutters themselves from the weight of the ice. Once the ice melts, it can make its way toward the house and into the walls; extreme, but possible. Keep them free flowing and make sure that the water that’s being expelled runs away from the house once it leaves the downspout.
Doors & Windows
Heating and Cooling systems account for nearly 75% of your energy costs, so, make sure that you don’t let the heat get lost out the windows or doors. Check to make sure that your doors and windows have good seals and proper weather stripping. A couple of winters ago, I put plastic over our upstairs windows as well as the windows in rooms where we don’t spend much time. It’s cheap and it insulates the room very well.
As I just mentioned, the Furnace is responsible for the largest percentage of energy use, so make sure it’s running in tip top shape. Change your air filters regularly and have a technician give it an annual service and cleaning. While he’s there, have him check your duct work, lots of times, there is significant air loss from cracks and seams in your duct work.
Not many homes have wood burning fireplaces or wood stoves, but for those that do, a clean chimney is vital. A chimney sweep that I talked to said that you should have your chimney cleaned every cord to two cords. Build up from the burned wood, called creosote can catch fire at high temperatures and cause a chimney fire. Not only is there hazards of fire, but with enough buildup, you can choke down the size of your chimney making it less efficient. Another tip to increase efficiency for your fireplace is to have an outside air intake installed so that your fire uses cold air rather than the heated air from your home to aid combustion.
Hoses & Hose Bibs
Make sure that you disconnect any hoses from their hose bibs. Water from inside the hose can freeze and cause damage to the hose and the hose bib. For relatively cheap, you can get a hose bib cover that will help insulate and keep it from freezing and causing a flood.
Taking the time to do these simple and cost effective projects is worth it in the end. You may not see the value in it today, but over years, ignoring these tips can cost you a ton of money. Plus, as you are up on your ladder or working on these items, you may notice other maintenance issues that you otherwise wouldn’t have seen.
If you need a referral to a handyman or any other service provider to help you take care of these and other winterizing projects, shoot me an email and I will hook you up!