Preparing the house for winter is one of the most neglected home repairs. Since the winter months are a sign of the coming Christmas season, people wouldn’t spend their time doing home maintenance. They’d rather prepare for Thanksgiving, do Christmas shopping, decorate the Christmas tree, or maybe just lounge by the warm fire. Clearing out gutters does not even make the cut on their winter checklist.
But here’s the fact: your home is at its most vulnerable during winter. If you want to keep your home “winter-proofed” and fully prepared for the cold weather, the last thing you can do is to procrastinate.
The cold weather, snow, and ice are damaging elements that will deteriorate your home quickly, especially if it is not getting the attention it needs. Here are the parts of your home that need protection during the winter to enjoy worry-free holidays.
1. Gutters and downspouts
Dirty rain gutters and clogged downspouts can seriously damage your home’s foundation or cause ice dams and icicles. Worse, if the melting ice cannot pass through the gutters, water will find its way inside your home, speeding up the deterioration of your interior and exterior. These damages can lead to major repairs and expensive costs.
When the fall is over, get some tools and start cleaning. Remove all the elements inside the gutter that might cause clogging, such as leaves, twigs, and gunk. Ensure that the gutters are not sagging and trapping water. Take the time to tighten downspout brackets and gutter hangers and replace any damaged materials.
For added safety, add extensions to downspouts to divert water away from your home. Make sure that the extension is three to four feet away from the house.
Take the time to replace the siding as well. Quality siding serves as an additional layer of insulation and defense against nature’s harshest elements. In cold temperatures, the siding can easily become brittle, leading to leaks, loose wallpaper, and high energy bills.
But if you are not confident about your DIY skills and your gutter needs a major repair, don’t hesitate to hire a company specializing in rain gutters and siding repairs. These experts do a great job in managing the entire rain gutter and ice melting systems.
Before the first snowfall, have your chimney inspected and the fireplace cleaned. Start by doing a visual inspection by checking the inside and outside of your home. Check if the chimney cap is in good shape and make sure that there is no debris buildup on the cap. Inside your home, confirm if the fireplace has no missing mortar or cracked bricks.
This is also a great time to stack loads of firewood. But make sure to cover the firewood and place it in a dry storage area to prevent it from rotting. To make the job easier, hire a chimney sweep company for full maintenance of your chimney.
Aside from the exterior parts of the house, don’t forget to give utmost attention to your patio, driveways, or walkways. Keep your exterior concrete surfaces protected by applying a concrete sealer. But before applying a sealer, inspect the concrete surfaces and fill any cracks. This way, water will not get in and freeze during winter.
Keep in mind that concrete flatwork eventually develops cracks, so doing minor repairs makes a difference. Filling any cracks will ensure that the concrete work will last a long time.
4. HVAC system
An HVAC unit includes all the heating and air conditioning systems of the house. Most heating and cooling systems often last up to 12 to 15 years. But some units can’t get past 10 years, and units that are still going strong at 20 years. The lifespan of an HVAC unit depends on how you maintain it.
Before the cold weather comes, devote time to change the filters. This task is the only maintenance you can do for your HVAC unit. If you don’t want to incur further damage, it is best to leave the job to a professional HVAC contractor. The contractor will inspect the system to make sure every part is functioning well.
Winter drafts incur high energy costs and detract you from the cozy vibe you want for your home. According to the U.S. Energy Department, increasing your home’s insulation is the quickest and most-effective way to cut use energy use from 20% to 50%.
There are simple repairs you can do to insulate your windows without going over $10. If your windows have air leaks, use a V-seal weather stripping by attaching it along the sides of the sashes. The windows can open and shut evenly despite having the V-seal in place. Other cheaper alternatives include rope caulk, shrink film, nail polish, and draft snake.
These are just some parts of your home that need protection the most during cold weather. If you have time, take a moment to inspect other parts of your house, such as the roof, exterior wall paints, and drainage. It may seem extra work, but keep in mind that preventative measures go a long way.