Get your home ready for cooler weather before the temperature drops to help avoid costly repairs. Even in warmer climates, like sunny Southern California, you should take steps to winterize your home and property.
In addition to making your home safer for the coming seasons, getting ready for fall and winter allows you to check the important systems of your home. This can help you reduce the risk of an accident and the need to file a homeowners insurance claim.
Follow these easy steps to get your home ready for the coming fall and winter months.
1. Clean the Gutters
You may not have paid much attention to your gutters over the summer. Leaves, dirt and debris build up over warmer months when less rain falls. As the leaves begin to fall, they can add to clogs in the drainage.
With a spotter helping you, climb up to your gutters using a secured ladder. Clean out the built-up debris and check for worn sections. You may want to hire a gutter cleaning service to help if your gutters are severely clogged or showing signs of damage.
2. Check Your Roof
It’s important to get a professional roof inspection once every few years. You should complete a personal roof inspection at least twice a year on your own. While you may not be able to see damages that a trained roof inspector would spot, you can check for major damage to the surface of your roof.
The change from summer to autumn is a great time to do one of your yearly inspections. Start from the ground and do a quick visual check. If you have help and feel comfortable, climb up to the roof and take a closer look for damage.
Contact a roof repair service right away if you notice missing tiles or shingles, or if there are areas with dents or depressions. This could be a sign that your interior roof structure is damaged or rotting.
3. Check Sensors and Technology
A season change gives you a good opportunity to check batteries in your fire alarms, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide sensors. Change any batteries that have died over the summer months.
If you have a programmable thermostat, it’s time to adjust the programmed temperatures.
4. Winterize Your Sprinkler System
For lawns with a sprinkler system, be sure you check with your irrigation company to see if there are specific steps for winterizing your system. Some irrigation systems need to be drained if your area experiences cooler weather. This is also a good opportunity to check your system for leaks or damage before they cause harm to your lawn.
5. Seal Leaky Insulation
Check windows and exterior doors for drafts that could be letting in cold air. Seal any spots that are allowing air inside. This simple step could greatly reduce your energy bills. As leaky windows or doors let cold air inside, your heating system has to work harder to heat your home.
6. Ready Your Heating System
Making your heater’s job easier by sealing leaks in windows or doors is just one step of getting the heating system ready. You should also have your furnace inspected by an HVAC professional. They can check for problems in the heating system and recommend any fixes that might be necessary.
Change your furnace filter now as it has likely collected dust throughout the summer months. Stock up on additional filters to change over the course of the winter. As you run your heating system, the filter will take on more dust from a closed house. Consider changing the filter every couple of months.
7. Clean the Fireplace
Homes with a fireplace or woodstove need special attention before winter. Be sure to check the heating units on gas or electric fireplaces to make sure no small animals have chewed wires. Wood-burning stoves and fireplaces should be inspected by a professional so make sure there’s no buildup in the chimney.
Be sure to check the chimney for bird nests or other animal debris. A clogged chimney can quickly cause dangers inside your home, including increased smoke and for potential house fires.
8. Winterize Landscaping
Bring in and store any outdoor furniture or décor that cannot withstand colder temperatures or wet weather. Even heavy-duty fabrics made for the outdoors can grow mold when exposed to moisture throughout the winter.
If you have delicate potted plants, move them to a warm interior location so they can continue to grow over the winter. Trim back bushes and trees that could potentially fall is frozen or blown over in a storm.
9. Insulate Pipes
For older homes, winterizing the pipes is essential to avoid an expensive burst pipe or water leak. Apply foam insulation to pipes that are exposed to cold, such as areas in the attic or basement. Disconnect outdoor hoses and turn off exterior faucets. You may need to turn off the water valve to exterior faucets as well.
10. Replace Summer Items with Cool-Weather Ones
Wash all of your summer clothes and linens with fragrance-free detergent. Store clean clothes in airtight bins or closets so they’ll be fresh and ready for next year.
Pull out cool-weather sheets and clothing from storage. Air out flannel sheets or winter jackets for a few days to reduce musty smells and helps with wrinkles.
The Dangers of Not Preparing for Cooler Weather
Getting your home ready for winter could help you save money on expensive repairs. Pipes and roofs are especially susceptible to the dangers of cold weather. A frozen water line can burst a pipe and cause interior flooding in your home. Tree branches and power lines can freeze in extreme temperatures and fall onto your roof, causing damage.
Now is also a great time to review your homeowners insurance and make sure your home is adequately covered. Go through your existing policy and contact an agent if you have questions about winter hazards and home insurance.