Hand cleaning leaves out of a gutter.

Prepare your home for the coming winter weather

As winter approaches, there are some things you can do on the inside and outside of your home to protect your investment, save money, and keep your family comfortable. Best of all, these ten tips are quick and easy to complete on your own or with a professional.

1. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

This is probably the easiest item on the whole list. During the summer, you want your fans to blow down and cool the room, but in the winter they should turn the opposite direction to air move upwards. This will create an updraft that works well in rooms with high ceilings.

  • Ceiling fans should move air upward in fall and winter

2. Clean and Inspect Your Heating System and Fireplace

Whether you have a forced-air furnace, a heat pump, wood stove, or pellet stove, you’ll want to bring in a professional to clean and inspect it. This should include removing soot and creosote accumulation in your chimney (this usually requires a chimney sweep).

  • Check fireplace flue for a tight seal when closed
  • Replace air filters on furnaces
  • Hire a professional to test your system to maximize performance and safety
  • Optional: using a vacuum hose, clean the openings of heating ducts to improve efficiency

3. Check Your Roof

The last thing you want in the middle of winter is a leak. Remove moss from shaded areas, clear debris from corners, and look for damaged shingles. Replace or repair them as needed.

  • Look for chipped or cracked shingles and replace as needed
  • Inspect rubber exhaust flashing for cracks and carefully replace

4. Clean the Gutters Regularly

As fall progresses, nearby trees can fill your gutters with debris. Schedule a time every other week to clean out the gutters. That way, when winter does hit, your gutters will be clean and ready for the rain and other weather conditions.

  • Make sure water is not going behind your gutters
  • Ensure that all gutters are securely attached to the side of your home before they get weighed down by water

5. Turn Off Outside Water and Remove Hoses

If you’re done using your hoses for the rest of the year, remove them from outside faucets. Be sure to drain them and store them in a shed, overhang, or garage. Then, turn your outside faucets off completely. In some areas, you might need to use a faucet cover to help avoid frozen pipes.

  • Remove and store outside hoses
  • Turn the water off to outside faucets to protect against frozen pipes
  • Locate your water shut-off valve in case of a frozen pipe this coming winter

6. Check the Attic and Crawlspace

Look for unwanted critters, cracks in the foundation, mold, ducting that has come undone, and standing water. Fix any issues as needed to protect your home.

  • Install a sump pump to remove water from crawlspaces
  • Remove pests (insects or rodents) from your home to avoid an infestation during the colder months
  • Close foundation vents as needed to keep water or sub-zero temperatures from entering your crawlspace

7. Put New Batteries into Smoke and Carbon-monoxide Detectors

Fall is a great time to install new batteries in all smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors. While some units come with 10-year batteries, be sure to test them to ensure they are working.

  • Check your fire extinguishers to ensure they are fully charged

8. Look for Drafts Around Windows and Doors

The likely culprits will be cracked caulking and weather stripping that has come undone or worn away. By sealing those leaks, you’ll keep your house warmer and save money in the long run.

  • Remove old caulking and replace if necessary
  • Add weather stripping to the bottom and sides of exterior doors
  • Check electrical outlets and switches on exterior walls for drafts

9. Get your yard ready for the colder weather

As the weather cools, the roots on your grass will grow deeper, which makes it a smart time to add fertilizer. Additionally, trim away any dead limbs on trees, and ensure all vegetation (plants and shrubs) are not touching any part of your house.

10. Inspect the Front Entry, Walkways, and Porch (or Deck)

Repair any uneven areas, screw down loose boards, and repair cracked or broken concrete before the elements make things works.

Get More Done with Help from Rivermark

When you’re facing a large repair on your home, such as a new furnace or expensive roof repair, Rivermark can help you finance it. Ask about a Home Equity Loan and Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) at any branch or give us a call at 503.626.6600.

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