The air outside is starting to chill and the leaves are turning orange, which can only mean one thing – fall is here and winter is just around the corner. Whether you're a first-time homeowner, or your home is new to you, here are a few chores you should do before the snow falls and the ground freezes to get your home ready for winter.
1. Prep your yard
Your yard may take a beating this winter, but a little prep now can help your lawn be lush and green once the snow melts. Spend a few hours fertilizing and ridding your lawn of leaves now, and reap the benefits later. Here’s a tip: use a lawn spreader to fertilize and a leaf blower instead of a rake to finish these tasks in a fraction of the time.
2. Fill in the gaps
Finding the places where cold air sneaks into your home can drastically reduce your heating bills this winter. To locate the leaks, inspect all your windows, doors, baseboards and vents to check for any drafts (Note - it’s best to try this on a particularly windy day.) Seal larger cracks with caulk and cover your windows in plastic wrap for comprehensive protection. If you have a real chimney, don't forget to close the damper to prevent cold air from billowing down and into your home.
3. Clean the carpets
Winter is roughest on your carpets because snow, salt and dirt get tracked in from outside. Cleaning them before winter begins puts them in the best possible shape for the colder months ahead, and should make it easier to pull up dirt in the future. You can hire a professional carpet cleaner or rent your own to conquer the task yourself.
4. Wrap your pipes
A ruptured pipe can ruin your home and everything in it. Rupturing occurs when a pipe freezes and the water inside it expands. You can protect your exterior pipes by wrapping them with heat tape and checking them regularly, especially on bitterly cold nights. Protect your interior pipes by ensuring the thermostat is never set below 65 degrees. If you don’t want to waste the energy while you’re out of town, shut off the water to your home completely.
5. Clean the gutters
It may be one of the most dreaded household chores, but it’s also one of the most important. If left unchecked, falling leaves and other debris will clog your gutters, which can cause dangerous ice dams in the winter. Start by trimming or removing trees and hedges near the gutters, then shovel out existing leaves in the gutters that may become problematic.
6. Dust off the fireplace
What better way to beat the cold than the heat and homey scent of a wood burning fireplace? Prep your fireplace by clearing out any debris that might be left over from last season, have the chimney cleaned, and check for any nicks or cracks in it. Lastly, be sure you screen is still in good shape to shield you and your loved ones from any rough sparks.
7. Evaluate your insurance policy
It's a good idea to check your policy annually to ensure it still meets your needs. Now is the perfect time to do so since the colder weather can pose risks to your home and vehicles. Also, make sure you're not being overcharged. Many companies offer deals for bundling your services. It never hurts to ask for a discount!
8. Update your home warranty
With the holidays coming up, it's important to make sure your budget is protected so that you can spend your money on your loved ones. A home warranty mitigates your risk of being stuck with a huge bill for a home system or appliance breakdown. Check your home warranty policy to ensure you have the coverage you need. If you don't currently have a home warranty, learn more about what a home warranty is and what it covers.
When you follow these simple steps to winterize your home you'll be well on your way to enjoying a happy, hazard-free holiday season.