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It's Time to Winterize

It's Time to Winterize

by Chris Petry

You’d be forgiven for waking up on Monday and believing spring was around the corner, rather than the icy throes of winter. Temperatures have been unseasonably warm, peaking in the late 80s by the late afternoon. Of course, I feel we’ve been saying fall temperatures are “unseasonably warm” for nearly a decade now so maybe it’s not all that unexpected. Still, if you’re paying attention to the calendar, you know what’s likely to come next.
One month from now, we will probably have been treated to at least a dusting of snow on the front lawn, as fleeting as it may be in the early part of the season. That means that, barring a freak weather event offshore, daytime temperatures should average between 30 and 50 degrees. Nights will, of course, be even cooler. A month later, we will be unlikely to see temperatures rise above 40 degrees. More than likely, they’ll hover around the mid-20s and early 30s.
So, what can you do to prepare your home for the arrival of what is objectively the best season? Okay, I know 90% of you will disagree with that last claim but being unpopular has never stopped me before!
Have your furnace inspected and cleaned now. If you wait until the first bitterly cold day to check your furnace, the laws of the universe dictate that it won’t work. So, get the jump on it now. HVAC companies across the land offer absurdly cheap seasonal inspections, where a Tech will survey your unit for damage, clean the parts and ventilation, and ensure it’s running safely and efficiently. Oh, and remember to replace your filter every 6 months at the bare minimum. More often if you have one of those things that woofs or meows prowling about.
Go crazy with the caulking. If you have cracks, holes, or breaks in plaster around sealed surfaces like windows and doors, you face the possibility of allowing in moisture and pests when the weather is warm and cold air come winter. If your furnace is competing against the cold air, it’s going to be much harder to maintain a comfortable temperature. It can get pricey too. So, find the caulk gun and get busy! For a more professional assessment or application, reach out to a contractor who specializes in window and door installations.
Insulation! Okay kids, let’s take a trip back to junior high science class. What happens to water when the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celsius? That’s right, it freezes! So, it’s a good idea to make sure the water pipes in your home are properly insulated to avoid breaks or ruptures. It’s as easy as self-applying heating tape or leaving your sink on drip overnight to keep water moving. We already discussed the effects of improper seals on windows and doors but you can make them extra safe with the addition of weather stripping as well as heavier grade curtains or old school plastic sheeting.
Put away the hose. You will have no petunias to water when nighttime temperatures fall below freezing. Of course, I don’t know a lot about petunias. I do know this, a water source located on the outside of your house will freeze first. It’s not a bad idea to add a cap and insulation to the external spout during the winter. In fact, you probably should.
Clean the gutters. If the gutters are full of debris the water will not drain properly, it will clump, and freeze. This will weigh down your gutters and cause more damage. Look, I hate that job as much as you do but it’s a necessary evil. Particularly if you don’t have gutter guards, which help to mitigate the amount of junk that ends up in there in the first place.
Don’t forget your roof! If your roof is in need of repair or maintenance, now is the time to do it. Not when it’s resting under a literal ton of snow. The last thing you want is to make your attic hospitable to polar bears. Check for compromised wood, missing shingles, and bends and curves in asphalt-style roofs.
Stairs, walkways, decks, and porches. During the winter, as a result of the aforementioned frozen water (a.k.a. ice), these surfaces can become real hazards. Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood of injury. You can mix sand into your wood stain for added grit on a newly laid surface. Cover existing stairs with an awning and enclose decks with a patio cover or canopy. Keep ALL outdoor walking spaces preemptively salted. Don’t forget to make sure you have a sturdy shovel or that your snowblower is in working order.
Get that chimney looked at. It’s always a good idea, whether it’s gas or wood burn, to have your chimney inspected and cleaned ahead of the winter season. They’ll look for breaks in brick, stone, or mortar, remove any unwanted critters and their nests, and do a thorough cleaning.
So, whether you’re jazzed up for winter like me or dreading the coming icy apocalypse, it’s important you set aside some time to prepare. You’ll thank yourself later. Especially if there’s a foot of snow outside and wooly mammoths and sabretooth tigers make a comeback. Stranger things have happened.