November 28th, 2011, posted by Troy
I love living in Washington, DC especially during autumn. We have some of the most beautiful weather and the view of the trees from my window is cascading with some of the most spectacular colors imaginable. It lulls you into a bit of complacency as we gear up for winter.
Well, Thanksgiving is done and the turkey nothing but scraps of bone and cartilage. Now is the time to think about what is expected to be a harsh winter. So here are Troy’s home prep tips to help you protect your family, home and purse strings over the next quarter.
1) Inspect Your Furnace:
This is probably the most important step that should be done annually. Get an HVAC professional out to service your equipment. Even if you have a home warranty should your system breakdown, most won’t cover major repairs if there is not a record of regular servicing. If your realtor doesn’t have one on call (I know I do) then Angie’s List is a great place to find a reputable professional. If you use radiator heat now would be a great time to bleed the valves. Just open slightly until you see water; then close.
2) Got a Fireplace? Get it Ready!
This is a great place for little creatures to enter your home, so you’ll want to make sure the cap or screen on the top is secure. Get a chimney sweep in to clean and check that the damper opens and closes properly. While the sweep is there would be a great time to check the need for a re-pointing or that the lining is in good shape. Be aware that sweeps make their largest margins on installing new lining so be sure they show you pictures where you’re getting deterioration.
3) Check the Exterior, Doors and Windows
Your big concern in the winter is escaping heat. You know to make sure your weather stripping around doors and windows are done but you should also inspect for cracks and space around pikes. Anywhere air can seep in or out should be sealed. If you have screens on your window, switch out to glass replacements or storm windows.
4) Inspect Roof, Gutters & Downspouts
On the loss of energy front, the attic is one of the main areas that heat escapes. Proper insulation in the attic is essential – minimum value should be R-30. Check your roof for worn shingles and make sure your flashing is secure. Since Fall means falling leaves check your gutters and downspouts for clogging.
5) Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Furnaces and gas fireplaces can put off carbon monoxide. Make sure you’re protecting your family by installing one on each floor of your home. Also make sure you have working smoke detectors that are synced together. Check your batteries twice yearly and test often. Have fire extinguishers at the ready and replace any extinguishers older than 7 years.
6) Check Foundations
It’s going to be cold so small animals will look for areas to stay warm. Your house can be that place if entry points are not sealed for these little ones as well as water intrusion which can cause untold damage. Crawlspaces and cracks in foundations should be sealed. A space as thin as a dime could be an entry point for mice. I don’t know about you but I don’t want nothing living with me that ain’t paying rent.
Preparing for snow is fun in this area as it seems no one knows how to handle it and they panic when it arrives. So don’t be among the throngs at Home Depot scrambling for these items. Purchase a snow shovel, de-icer, rock salt and sand. Also make sure your car has what it needs as well.
8) Prevent Plumbing Freezes
This is a big issue in colder climes so make sure you know where your main water shut off is located so you don’t have to go hunting while water is filling your basement. Make sure any garden hoses are drained along with any air conditioner pipes. Insulate any exposed plumbing and while on vacation keep thermostat at 55 degrees.
9) Landscaping and Walkways
Trim back your tree branches to keep off your house or electrical wires. Seal all drive and pathways along with any patios or decks. Now may be a good time to prep for Spring by planting bulbs.
10) Have an Emergency Kit/Plan
No one likes to think there will be an emergency situation but I was in the Coast Guard and our motto was Semper Paratus: Always Prepared. A kit in an established spot in a home is essential to protecting you and yours. Any kit should have a flashlight, a radio, candles with matches or a lighter, all emergency phone numbers, and batteries for radios and flashlights. Extra food and water supplies are handy but also remember any food for your pet. Keep this “kit” along with blankets in a dry area and always have an evacuation plan that everyone can recite by heart.
Now that I’ve completely depressed you, go back and finish off the pumpkin pie!