How to Take Care of Your Home During the Winter Months
Spending the winter months in a warmer location sounds wonderful for those who don’t love cold weather. Not everyone is in a position to enjoy such a treat, however. For those who are living in their homes during the chilly season, despite not completely winterizing them, it’s still a good idea to take some time to check on and protect some potentially vulnerable areas of your property.
Protect the plumbing
If you were to winterize your home, one of the first tips is to prepare the plumbing for cold weather in order to avoid the costly danger of burst pipes. Using your home during the winter months doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take similar action. It’s not too late to cover exterior faucets and insulate exposed pipes. You can even install an automatic water shut off valve that activates based on irregular water flow or the detection of moisture. And always be on the lookout for wet spots, water damage or mold/mildew in your house.
Remember the roof
The roof takes a beating during the winter so give it a good head start by cleaning out the gutters and replacing damaged or missing shingles. And check the amount and condition of your home’s insulation. Not enough insulation, along with insufficient sealing/venting, can cause ice dams on your roof, which can lead to leaks and water damage which you may not discover before significant damage has occurred.
Happy to have heat
Whether you’re staying in your home or leaving it for a time, give your heating system and thermostat a checkup and keep the temperature inside your house above 50 degrees. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the locations and operations of your home’s utility shut-off valves. You never know when you might need to access them.
Check the chimney
Enjoying a nice, cozy fire is a great way to warm up on cold days and a good way to keep the heating bills down. But it’s very important to inspect and clean out a chimney to prevent fire hazards like creosote buildup and bird/animal nests. If you do leave your home for a time or when you’re done using the fireplace for the season, close the chimney flue and the hearth doors to keep out critters and drafts.
Down with drafts
Speaking of drafts, cold days are when it’s easiest to locate the areas in your home that are not well sealed—normally around doors and windows. Fresh caulking, foam tape or weatherstripping are quick, easy fixes. Hanging insulated curtains or installing storm windows can also help keep your house warm.
And don’t forget the crawl space. When you open the hatch, is it warm or cool under the house? Make sure the air ducts aren’t damaged or disconnected and the insulation is in good shape. The last thing you want is to be providing a warm, comfortable place for pests to spend the winter.
Preserve the plants
Most trees and plants will survive the winter, but, if you’re hoping to save less hardy potted plants, be sure to move them indoors or to a protected location. And have a tree specialist check the trees on your property to make sure they are in good shape and able to withstand wind, snow, rain and/or icy conditions.
Handy house sitter
If you are fortunate enough to able to escape the cold weather, even for a short time, consider hiring a house sitter or asking a friend to check on your home while you’re away. It’s a good idea not to leave your home unattended for more than a week or two. A house sitter can water your plants, collect your mail and provide peace of mind for you that your home is safe and secure.