Every year it appears to me that the cold weather comes faster and faster. With our busy lives, it is difficult to remember all the work tasks required to prepare for the upcoming winter. To make things much simpler, below please find a checklist for preparing your house for winter.
Locate Your Needs
This is the worst step for the entire list. It is when reality sets in and you realize that winter is fast approaching. Time to clean up your garage (or shed) and put away the rakes and locate your shovels, snow blower and kids winter toys.
Examine all doors to ensure they have good weather stripping. If you have a dog like us, she does a great job letting us know when she wants in. The only negative is that she manages to grab the door insulation with each scratch. Leaving damaged weather stripping in place can lead to costly energy bills over the course of a winter. Also, verify the condition of the caulking around windows for cracks or separation from the window or house.
Tidy the Yard
Harsh climates can cause severe damage to your landscaping. Be sure to trim your trees to ensure that excessive snow or ices does not break off branches. Be sure to wrap your plants and trees to prohibit rodents from munching on them. Wrapping your plants will also protect them against the snow shovels in the hands of teens and from salt used on sidewalks and streets.
Lastly, be sure to clean, dry and stack patio furniture out of the way to ensure no damage from the heavy snow loads.
Winterize Summer Machines –If you have any gas run equipment, be sure to properly and environmentally empty the tank. Any leftover gas may become stale over the winter and cause major damage. Additionally, you can drain the oil to prepare for next summer and remove the spark plug.
For battery operated equipment, bring the batteries inside and set a reminder to charge monthly.
Prior to winter is also a great time to clean the undercarriage of the lawnmower.
No need to wait until a cold day in December to hang holiday lights and decorations. Be sure to verify their operation before hanging or you will get do repeat the project.
Gutters & Downspouts
Remove all debris from your gutters and downspouts. When the snow melts next summer, you want to ensure a clean runoff. Any obstacles during a typical melt and freeze day in early Spring can cause havoc to your house.
Inspect the condition of the roof for lose shingles and to ensure the vents are in good condition.
Vacuum and clean out supply and return air grills.
Remove and store any yard hoses and attachments associated with the exterior faucets.
Turn off your exterior water supplies. Drain off the exterior faucets and depending on whether you have a frost-free faucet or not, either leave in the open position or closed.
Check the condition of all exterior house vents (dryer, furnace, etc) and clean as required.
Exterior Window Screen
For any basement windows that have exterior screens, especially if you live in a location that gets a snow, remove. During the winter, you don’t want to break a screen with a shovel.
Turn off your air conditioner units disconnect. Either open the breaker within your AC Panel or open the disconnect at the AC Unit. If you have a cover for unit, be sure to install. It is a great way to keep snow and dirt out of the vents during the off-season.
Before winter, best to confirm the operation of your sump pump for next spring. Remove the lid and pour several gallons of water into the sump to verify its operation. If you are unfortunate like us, our house must be located on a high water table. As our pump runs all year round, we need to ensure the water gets away from our house. Be sure to use pipes of sufficient size to ensure they will not freeze to the house connection.
In the past, we had one terrible spring where our over-sized hose fell out of position causing the water to short cycle around and around. This created huge icicles and almost froze over our sump pump discharge. Be sure to perform weekly checks or inspections after each large snowfall.
Test and operate your ground fault circuit interrupter receptacles and/or breakers to ensure proper operation.
Keep snow away from your house foundation. Shoveling towards your house is not a good idea. During any melts, by having snow up against your foundation, you are enabling moisture to enter your house…which is not a good thing.
No Build Up
Remove ice dams on roof and snow build up. Be careful with your removals. There is always the personal safety issue you must ensure and also, you do not want to damage your roof. If you house has a large overhang or is more vintage, you may want to install heat trace on the roof to minimize the roof dams.
In short, winter is inevitable. Best to be prepared and not fall victim to a costly repair that could have been avoided by spending a day getting ready.