Prepare Your Home for Winter.
Halloween is right around the corner, and after that, it’s officially winter for most of us. And wintertime is a lovely time of the year. It’s the season of hot cocoa and beautiful snowy landscapes. Everyone gets ready to bundle down and relax for the winter months, celebrate the holidays, and see family members. But cold winter weather can wreak havoc on your home if you’re not prepared for it. Unless you live in the southern hemisphere, your house probably dreads the onset of November. So before we officially close the playbook on fall, be sure to take advantage of the last few weeks of good weather and cross all those “winter prep” jobs off your to-do list.
Seal those windows
Perhaps the most common and important bit of winter prep is your windows and doors. Anywhere there’s an opening to your house, there should be an adequately sealed border. Sealants wear off with time so it’s vital that you check your windows every year. Checking the edges of your windows can be as simple as holding a candle near the window. If you’ve determined that any of your windows or doors are creating a draft, then get ready to reseal them now while you have the chance.
Sealing your windows up won’t just keep you warm in the winter, it will keep you from going bankrupt. Excess drafts can send your energy bill skyrocketing as your heater tries desperately to warm up your entire neighborhood. Be sure to use a high quality sealant to get the most out of your caulk job. Silicone is a great choice for windows as it lasts the longest and is weather-resilient. Sealing windows is usually a quick job that you can finish in a day.
- Remove old caulk
Unless your window is brand new, you’ll likely need to remove the failing caulk before resealing. Putty knives come in handy here for the stubborn bits of sealant that may give you trouble.
- Repair surfaces if needed
You’ll want to make sure the surface you’re caulking is smooth and undamaged. The wonkier the surface, the harder it will be for the sealant to work properly.
- Lay new sealant
Put down the new caulk in one continuous strip if you can. You want the sealant to be just thick enough to fill the gap.
- Smooth sealant and remove excess
You don’t want sealant sticking out all over your window. Flatten it down quickly before it sets. If you want to flatten caulk with your finger, be sure you’re wearing a glove or using a rag, don’t use your exposed skin.
- Let dry and enjoy
Your window is now ready for winter! Don’t mess with anything for about 24 hours as the caulk needs to set, but after that, you’re good to use your window as normal.
Check your ducts
Air ducts are another big energy-waster during the winter. Ideally they should be inspected once a year. Many people choose to have this service done professionally, but the savvy homeowner can get by with checking most ducts on their own. Be sure to use a heat-resistant tape like aluminum foil tape if you do come across any leaks. If you choose to look over your ducts yourself, realize that there may be a few you cannot reach, but you should be able to get enough of them to put a dent in your winter heating bills.
Clean your gutters
Autumn is the last call to clean out your gutters. If your gutters stay backed up with leaves and gunk all winter, it’s very likely that water (or worse, ice) could back up on your roof. Ice dams cause a lot of expensive damage so it’s best to avoid them. Cleaning your gutters is something else you can do on your own in a few easy steps, so long as you have a ladder and your outdoor water is still running.
- Clean your groundspout
It’s easiest to start cleaning your gutter from the ground and work your way up. Start by removing what you can with your hands. You should be able to get most of it.
- Remove all large debris
Continue along your whole gutter, brushing out all the leaves and sticks that have likely accumulated. Don’t worry about getting absolutely everything, because your last step will clear out all the smaller junk or stubbornly stuck bits of debris.
- Flush with water
Start at the end of your gutters opposite the groundspout and blast water through it with a hose. Special gutter cleaning attachments can be purchased at the hardware store if you’re feeling fancy. This should clear everything, but if anything’s stuck, try flushing up from the bottom of the groundspout or using a long plumber’s tool to knock the blockage loose.