How To Prepare Your Home For Winter

Dated: December 11 2020

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How to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Preparing your house for winter may not be on the top of your to-do list right now, after all didn’t we just have a 65 degree Thanksgiving?! Most of us have better things to do, baking cookies, decorating our holiday tree too early, (guilty here) or enjoying the remnants of fall instead of winterizing their house. But here is the kicker. Procrastination will hurt you in the long run. 

I myself own an older home and these activities are a must before the weather takes too crazy of a turn. Let me run you through my yearly checklist!. 

Insulate Windows

Especially with older homes, older windows whether single or double paned can have a draft. Man alive can that drive up the electric bill! But, by taking the time to reduce the drafts in your home you can lower your  home’s energy costs by up to 20% per year, according to the U.S. Energy Department, while also making your living space more comfortable.

Here are some of the solutions I have used in my home. 

  1. V-seal weather stripping. Add this plastic weather stripping along the sides of the sashes. Windows can open and shut evenly with the V-seal in place. (Pro tip: Weather stripping also works wonders on doors.)

  1. Draft snake. If the bottom of your window is letting in cold air, buy a foam-and-fabric draft snake kit. Cut the 36-inch foam tube provided to length and slip the washable cover over it. Then place the snake on the sill, and shut the window on to seal the deal. (for a cheaper option I have used old pool noodles.)

Inspect Your Fireplace

If you are like me you have a wood burning fireplace you like to...well “fire up” this time of year. But there are a few steps to take to be sure you are doing it safely. A visual inspection, both inside and outside your home can go a long way. 

During an outdoor inspection, make sure:

  1. A chimney cap is present and in good condition.

  2. There is no bird nest or debris buildup on the cap.

  3. There are no tree limbs above or near the chimney.

  4. The mortar and bricks on the chimney aren’t crumbling or missing.

  5. The chimney rises at least 2 feet above where it exits the roof.

  6. The chimney crown — the sloping cement shoulders at the top of the chimney — is beveled, which helps air flow.

  7. The flue liner is visible above the chimney crown.

  8. The chimney is plumb and not leaning to one side or the other.·      

  9. The roof flashing is tight against the chimney.

Inside your home, confirm that:

  1. The flue damper opens, closes, and seals properly.

  2. There are no combustible materials, such as animal nests, or other foreign objects in the flue.

  3. The fireplace surround, hearth, and firebox have no cracked bricks or missing mortar.

  4. If you spot any damage, order a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection costs, on average, between $79 and $500, depending on whether you’re ordering a level-one or level-two inspection. (Level-1 is an eyeball inspection, Level-2 is the super cool camera.)

Gas fireplaces require less maintenance, but you should still:

  1. Inspect the glass doors for cracks or latch issues.

  2. Check that the gas logs are in the proper position.

  3. Turn gas off at the shut-off valve and test the igniter.

  4. Ignite the fire and look for clogged burner holes. If present, turn off gas and clear obstructions with a pin or needle.

Clear Out Gutters and Downspouts

Clogged rain gutters or downspouts can cause a few major issues that can damage your home’s foundation or cause ice dams. So, after the last leaves of fall have...well...fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and gunk (That really icky brown/black goo we pretend is not there...that stuff). Also, make sure the gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water, tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets, and replace any worn or damaged materials. In my home I usually hire a nephew to climb a ladder with a bucket. Feel free to steal that idea, pretty inexpensive and a lot of fun to watch!

For more information regarding steps you can take to winterize your home go to: 5 Crucial Cold Weather Tips for Preparing Your House for Winter

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Meg Gaulding

Meg Gaulding has been a resident of Frederick county since 2006. She is an alumna of Hood College and fell in love with the area. After a few years of working, she decided to go back to school and rec....

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