One of the challenges with our beautiful North Carolina autumns is knowing when it is time to prepare our homes for the winter months. With temperatures bouncing from cold to balmy to quite warm throughout the season, it is easy to miss the opportunity to winterize before the state finally settles into true cold months.
Start planning your home’s hibernation today by creating a go-to list that can be used for years to come. As you winterize, make notes that are specific to your home so that tasks are easily recalled in later months.
To tuck in the exterior of your JSJ Builders home for the winter, work from top to bottom:
? Do a visible inspection of the roof (from the ground!) to determine if any shingles are missing or raised. If there are signs of damage, contact a professional to double-check any locations that may be prone to leaks.
? Clean gutters, removing debris that may cause frozen precipitation to block the flow. Gutter guards are a great investment to prevent leaves from piling up and causing precipitation to slip over the edges rather than move to the downspouts. Wear thick gloves and drop debris to the ground rather than attempt to bag it while on the ladder. Make sure your ladder is tall enough to reach gutters and firmly planted on the ground. Enlist a family member or friend to help - you can always return the favor at their home!
? Windows! Check windows for cracks, and drafts, and ensure that they are tightly closed. Often, unlocked windows slide down minimally throughout the warm weather months leaving a gap that is not easily seen but will definitely allow cold air to sneak into our homes.
? House the hoses. Because we are able to garden well into autumn, hoses are most often forgotten when the cold weather moves in. To avoid a burst pipe, disconnect hoses from the faucets and drain them. Store hoses inside, if able, and insulate the faucets.
? Perform one last yard cleanup by trimming trees and removing dead branches or other debris. This will prevent the incoming ice/snow/wind from sending branches into homes, cards, or passersby.
? Prior to the arrival of poor weather, repair any issues with steps or handrails and find a common location to store tools needed to keep driveways and sidewalks clear of ice/snow. This can include shovels, non-clumping cat litter, and de-icing salt (check warnings if you have outdoor pets)
For the interior of your home, think safe, sound, and cozy!
? Insulate pipes located on exterior walls to keep them snuggled in and out of freezing danger. If the temperature dips below 32 degrees, allow a stream of water to run from a few faucets to prevent bursting. You might install an emergency release valve on your plumbing system to decrease pressure caused by freezing pipes. Perhaps most important, make sure you know where the whole house water shut-off valve is in case it needs to be turned off quickly.
? Spot check for cracks, holes, or other openings around windows and doors. They may seem small but as cold air sneaks in, they will become very noticeable as the furnace moves to overdrive. Install weather stripping or caulk holes to seal.
? Check both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors using the “test” buttons. If your home does not have carbon monoxide detectors, buy them now as the winter months often see a spike in carbon monoxide-related sicknesses when furnaces are fired up.
? If your home has a fireplace, make sure the chimney is in working order prior to starting the year’s first fire. Have a professional chimney sweep (certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America ) inspect and clean the chimney, examine the fuel venting system, look for any cracked or collapsed flue tiles, and repair cracks in the exterior masonry.
? Furnace maintenance is incredibly important and when performed annually will prolong its life. Change filters, check exhaust vents for nests, and schedule an annual maintenance appointment with the installer.
? Wash drapery and throw blankets - then use them! Closing curtains at night will help insulate your home and easily accessible blankets may alleviate cries about cold feet. Yes, the thermostat setting can be the source of tension but by having cozy blankets at the ready, you may be able to lower the dial one more digit. This is a great way to take some of the load off both your heating system and your wallet.
Now is also a terrific time to check in with your homeowner’s insurance provider on coverage for claims specifically related to winter weather. What is your coverage if a neighbor slips on your driveway? Or if a snow-laden tree comes to rest across a shared fence?
If you will be traveling, turn your home’s water off prior to leaving. If you will be gone long-term, consider having the entire plumbing system drained. Have a neighbor check your home regularly for any issues so that there are no surprises lurking on your return.
North Carolina can move from warm, sunny days to gray, cold, and wet at the drop of the hat. Make sure your JSJ home is prepared when those long days come to stay by tackling these to-do’s today.