The season for snowfall and freezing temperatures is here.
Whether you are a new or experienced homeowner, it’s time to prep your home and protect against unwelcome repairs. Follow these steps to winterize your home’s structural and mechanical systems, recommended by thespruce.com.
1) Your heating system is critical for winter. Follow these steps to ensure it runs properly:
• Replace the air filter following the manufacturer’s recommendations.
• If your furnace uses propane or fuel, make sure the tank is full.
• Inspect and clean heating vents and clear obstacles to ensure air flow.
• Check for carbon monoxide leaks. Don’t let a potentially dangerous situation go undetected: leaks can be found with an inexpensive test badge or a battery-operated alarm, according to thespruce.com. Leaks often lurk in the furnace exhaust system or other fuel-burning appliance, such as a water heater. If you discover problems, call a professional to identify and correct the cause.
• Make sure exhaust vents are open and free of obstructions.
2) Prep your air conditioning system by using a high-pressure hose setting to clean debris and dirt from fan blades and condensing coils. Let the unit dry completely and then cover it for the season with a breathable waterproof cover.
• Remove window air conditioners to help seal the window against cold air leakage. If the unit can’t be removed, close the vents and cover the unit with a breathable weatherproof cover.
3) Inspect your fireplace, chimney and flue to avoid major cold air leaks and causes of chimney fires.
• Clear nests from birds, squirrels or other small animals. Make sure the damper opens and closes fully and that it can be locked in the open or closed position.
• Check the chimney draft for proper draw by opening the damper, then rolling several sheets of paper into a stick-shape and light them in the fireplace under the open damper. If the smoke doesn’t rise up the chimney, call a professional chimney sweep.
• Inspect the fireplace for open mortar joints and repair to prevent fire spreading.
4) Winterize exposed pipes to avoid bursting from freezing, which can cause expensive repairs. Insulate exposed piping in a crawlspace, attic or exterior walls. Thespruce.com recommends first wrapping the pipes with electrical heating tape, then wrapping in pipe insulation.
• For exterior faucets, turn off the water supply inside the house, then drain any remaining water by opening the faucet. Disconnect garden hoses and drain. Protect the faucet from freezing with an insulated cover. If you are leaving for several months, shut off the water supply and drain the plumbing system.
5) Check the insulation of appliances, outlets and fireplaces. Be sure the hot water heater is blanketed and exterior outlets and switch plate are insulated with foam sealing gaskets.
6) Seal doors and windows with weather stripping to prevent a major source of cold air leaks. In addition:
• Inspect the outside moldings for damaged or missing caulking and seal gaps with a good quality exterior caulk and check to ensure glazing putty is not cracked or missing.
• Inspect window track and remove debris.
• Check for air leaks at the edges of the window and use rope caulk to seal leaks.
• Inspect roofs for missing or damaged shingles, flashing around chimneys and other roof projections. Clean gutters and downspouts to avoid damage from wet leaves freezing.
• Winterize your sprinkler system as wells as the pool and hot tub. It’s a great time to fertilize your lawn to prevent stress and damage and lay a foundation for a healthy, green lawn in spring.
• Prepare your out-of-doors by covering patio furniture, sealing or staining wood decks, draining lawn mower gas, draining and unplugging water features, storing garden tools and cleaning and covering the grill.
Check your snow blower’s oil, tires, and shear pins and crank it up before the snow flies. That way, you’ll be ready for that first snowy morning, coming very soon.
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Tom Kalinski is the broker/owner of RE/MAX of Boulder, the local residential real estate company he established in 1977. He was inducted into Boulder County’s Business Hall of Fame in 2016 and has a 40-year background in residential and commercial real estate. For questions, e-mail Tom at [email protected], call 303.441.5620, or visit boulderco.com.