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Winter is here in Des Moines and with it comes freezing temperatures, grey skies, and shorter days. Understandably, the winter months are usually spent in the comfort of our homes, away from the elements, but if your home is not ready for the cold, you may find yourself wishing you had been better prepared. Now is the time to determine if your home is up to winter’s standards. Here are a few things to look for:
Inspect Your Heating System
Maintaining your HVAC system year round is a good way to make sure it lasts, however, many don’t think about it until there’s an issue. It’s a good idea to have a professional contractor inspect the unit, clean it, and change the filters on a more regular basis. Most HVAC systems will last about ten years, and with biannual maintenance, you can increase its shelf life up to twenty years, so it’s definitely worth it in the long run.
Check for Drafts
Take a tour around your home and inspect your windows, doors, basements, and attics for drafts. What’s the point of paying to heat your home if it’s not sealed up from the elements? Replace weather stripping and caulk around windows and doors where needed. Sealing your house up tight will not only keep you warm, but it will also keep your heating bill affordable.
Protect the Exterior
Having to replace rotten wood on your trim, windowsills, or decks can be very tricky and quite pricey. Avoid this headache by protecting the wood on your home by painting, caulking, or sealing it. Inspect the exterior of the home, and if there are areas where the paint is chipping or caulk is old and cracking, prep the area and touch it up. Decks are typically covered in snow or rain throughout the winter months, so it’s good practice to reseal your deck each fall to avoid the damage created by wood rot.
Clean Out the Gutters
It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. The fall season wreaks havoc on your gutters with the large amount of falling leaves. Make sure your gutters are clean and free of debris, but be careful when clearing them out as critters do love to make a home in them. Once your gutters are clean, use your hose to check the water flow and drainage areas – it’s important to deter any pooling near the foundation of your home. If you notice the excess water routing itself toward the home, it may be a good idea to add gutter extenders or dig out a drainage path away from the structure.
Check Your Detectors
Now is the time to change the batteries and test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. In the winter months, we’re more likely to push the furnace or light a fire, which can lead to a house fire. Additionally, in the winter, our homes are sealed up tight, so if there’s a carbon monoxide leak, there’s no fresh air to deter it. It’s best to have the alarm system in place and functioning to assure peace of mind.
Prep the Pipes
Freezing temperatures lead to frozen water in your pipes, so if you have any residual water in your sprinkler system or hoses, you might end up with some damage. Remove your hoses from the faucets and drain any excess water out. Wrap your exposed faucets with plastic and heat tape to keep them from freezing your interior pipes. Your sprinkler system is a bit more tricky – you’ll need to either hire someone to blow the water out of the system of use an air compressor to do it yourself. It’s a good idea to make yourself aware of the location of the main water valve just in case you need to turn it off if a pipe bursts.
Preparing your home for the winter months can be a chore, but it’s well worth it once those cold temperatures hit. The last thing you need to do is make sure your snow shovel is handy. What do you do to prep your home for the winter?