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Home Improvement  /  February 3, 2016

Get Your Home Ready for Winter

Winter is upon us. Its shadow, however, has been looming for a long time. If you’ve been putting off autumn errands, now is the time to get them out of the way if you want to prevent serious damage or expenses.

  1. Winterize, winterize, winterize.
    • If you have a sprinkler system, blow the water out of the pipes to prevent freezing and cracking. Empty out garden hoses and stow them in the garage to avoid the weather’s wear and tear.
    • Faucets on the outside of your house need to be winterized, too, or you risk a freeze creeping up the pipe and into the plumbing. Your faucet may have a frost-free sillcock — that is, an exit pipe that runs downhill from the inside plumbing and closes off inside, so that any water far enough out to be exposed to freezing temperatures drains outward and fails to collect. Typically, these faucets have knobs that are perpendicular to the wall. If yours has a knob that’s at a 45-degree angle to the wall or if the shut-off valve is a turning bar outside the house, there’s a fair chance that water is sitting inside the pipe, waiting for winter to creep in. Hardware stores sell “faucet socks” that are supposed to insulate and protect this pipe. However, if too little indoor heat makes it through the whole length of pipe, these won’t do a thing to prevent freezing. (And if indoor heat is making it the whole length of pipe, you have insulation challenges that may be systemic to your home.)
    • You’ll need to bleed the extra water out of the system via the bleeder cap, which might be next to the shut-off valve or might be inside.
  2. Waterproof your deck or patio. A penetrating waterproof coating will protect brick masonry and concrete floors from wet, icy weather. Some treatments are even permanent. If you neglect this crucial step, ice can create or expand cracks, destroying the hard work that’s been put into your home’s beautiful exterior. Water-repellent wood treatment is also a must on a wooden deck. Depending on the quality and transparency of the waterproofing treatment you use, this should be redone every two to five years — usually closer to two. In addition to preventing rot or mildew from creeping in, most wood sealants will keep out UV rays, which can fade wood planks to an ugly gray over time. Lastly, don’t forget to check for loose railings or broken boards.
  3. Check your weather stripping. Your heating bill is about to climb, and insulation is your first line of defense to keep it under control.
    • Walk around your house and feel for drafts. Put your hand next to doors and windows to see how much colder they are than the surrounding ambient temperature. This will tell you how much heat they’re sucking out. If the weather stripping is cracked or fails to provide a complete seal for any other reason, it’s time to replace it. A little bit of work will safeguard your family’s comfort all season long.
    • Leaky windows can be sealed with weatherproofing plastic. The screens can be taken down, cleaned, and stored. While you’re at it, now is a good time to give the panes a good washing, inside and out. Better yet, if you’ve been considering an installation of storm doors or windows, you’ll save more in heating costs by doing it now rather than putting it off.
  4. Survey the exterior.
    • Give your patio furniture a good cleaning and either cover it or store it away from the weather.
    • Clean out your gutters and remove any obstructions from their spouts. It’s not a fun task, but it’s more fun than dealing with a leaky roof, ice-cracked foundation, or insect nests — which are only a few of the many problems that clogged gutters can present.
    • Check the roof for missing shingles or other potential weak spots.
  5. Check your blind spots. When toys, bicycles, and other items sit in the same place for a long time, you can become so accustomed to them that you forget they are there. Look around outside for things that should be brought in before winter hits full force.
  6. Be storm-ready. Drag the snow shovels, blower, and plows from the rear garage storage to the front, or someplace where they will be easily accessible. If you have other winter stuff in storage — such as the warm coats and gloves — bring them out and put them someplace they will be easy to reach when they are needed.

These steps may sound even more tedious than spring cleaning, but they will make your life easier for the next few months while winter throws its worst at you. By fending off emergencies and making everyday life more convenient, you can keep winter cozy and enjoyable.

If you recognize the importance of these chores but would rather save your time and skip the inconvenience, give us a call at 513-733-3777. We’d love to help out.

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