Whether you’re a young homeowner or a senior retired in your own home, preparing your largest investment for the winter months is important and a good cost-effective preventative measure. Gold Key Home Inspection’s, Inc. is committed to helping homeowners stay educated on the care of their home with quick tips and money saving advice. This winter, make sure your home is ready for the long cold days to come.
1. Check your Heating System: Have a professional do a routine check before winter sets in. Vacuum vents and other heating components. Replace your furnace filter—depending on your furnace model, you may need to change the filter every 30-60 days. Program your thermostat between 68-72 degrees while at home and 60-65 degrees when away. This is one way to be more economic during the winter months and keep a little extra $ in your pocket. Check your thermostat batteries if you have a battery-powered one…they may need to be changed as well. If you have a propane or oil tank, make sure you have enough to keep everyone warm this winter. If you have a boiler, never cover it or block its air vents and ensure the outside flues aren’t blocked either.
2. Check your doors and windows: Seal or prevent air leaks. Check locks on all windows in the house and do not forget to check the basement windows too. In older homes, install storm windows to add another layer of protection from the cold temperatures. Add or replace worn weather-stripping around doors and windows. Caulk gaps where necessary. Replace worn door sweeps at the bottom of doors. Use caulking and weather-stripping around entry points for all pipes and ducts that travel through exterior walls.
3. Check your fireplace: If you have not used your chimney in a long time, it may be a good idea to have a Chimney Sweep Specialist come and take a look at it if you want to use it this winter. When not in use, keep the damper airtight to keep warm air from escaping your home.
4. Check your roof and gutters: It is always a good idea to take a peek at the condition of your roof during the fall and winter seasons. Replace loose shingles. Make sure the flashing around the chimney or vent pipes is watertight. Check the bricks and mortar for signs of deterioration. Make sure the gutters are still clear of debris and the downspouts are faced away from the house with extensions to move water away from the foundation. Trim tree limbs and bushes so that the house remains free from any moisture caused by foliage. It will also lessen the chance of severe damage caused by limbs due to heavy icing.
5. Check the outdoor care areas: Drain water from outdoor spigots and sprinklers. Bring pumps indoors. Unhook hoses from water faucets. Roll up hoses and store them inside. Give decks an additional coat of sealer (in colder climates, this will need to be done in October or early November. Check foundation and siding for cracks or gaps and repair as necessary. Window AC units should have special attention given to their care. If you take the appliance out of the window, be careful not to bend or damage the cooling fins on the back. Do not store the A/C unit on the garage floor where it might come into contact with corrosive de-icing salts left behind by vehicle tires.
6. Check your insulation levels: The largest amount of heat that escapes from your home leaves through the attic. It is estimated at almost 45% loss. Experts agree that an R-30 rated insulation is the minimum requirement for insulation. Newer homes usually have this standard, but older home may need more.
7. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: It is a good idea to replace batteries on all your smoke detectors in your house. Test them. Because homes in the winter time are closed up, it is also a good idea to have a working carbon monoxide detector.
8. Senior checklist: For further warmth and comfort during the winter months, place several throw blankets on the couches and chairs in your home where you spend the most time. The soft, easy to use throws help a person to stay warm when the heater shuts down and the room begins to cool. It prevents the constant movement of standing, walking, and constant adjustment of the heat in order to keep the body warm as it ages. In climates where snow is more prolific, make sure you keep a bag of salt and a shovel in an accessible spot for clearing sidewalks, steps and drives, or have a contact person/company available to complete this task for you. It is also a good idea to have a family member or neighbor regularly check up on you during the winter months in case of an emergency or accidental fall.
We hope you find these tips helpful. Have a warm and cozy winter season!