Morning frost covers the windshield, the leaves have browned and fallen, and it’s hard to get out of your cozy bed in the morning – all signs that winter is coming. Before the snow flies and winter weather really settles in, these late fall days are the perfect time to prepare your home for the cold season. By the time the forecast shows below freezing overnight temps, you should already be thinking ahead towards your home’s winter needs and taking steps to get your house winterized. Key areas to consider include cleaning, pest control, insulating and sealing, heating system and grounds. Read on for helpful tips to help you get organized and learn how to prepare your home for winter.
Cleaning Home and Pest Control
Temperature drops often lead to rodents and pests seeking out warm and dry shelter for the winter months. This might mean unwanted visitors inside your home. Rodents like mice, chipmunks and squirrels can enter homes in late fall as they search for warmth and opportunity for easy food sources like crumbs and scraps, especially if your home has any crevices that allow them to sneak in. To deter these pests from taking up residence for the winter, keep your home clean, seal any cracks or openings, and use traps or other deterrents as needed to protect your home from rodent-caused damage.
Changing Windows and Sealing Up
Screened windows and porches are a common feature, and one of the most essential aspects, of many original Adirondack homes. These are perfect to enjoy warmer weather and make the most of the short summer season while at the same time keeping the home cool at night and the insects out. While these open air spaces are perfect for late spring through early fall, screen porches often allow for significant heat loss from homes during the winter. To combat this, many large windowed areas and screen porches have the option to switch out screens for glass panes as the seasons change. Most homes also have the option to replace regular window screens with storm windows to provide an extra layer of insulation for the winter. For screened porches that do not have the option to switch out to glass panes, home owners can add plastic sheeting to the interior window frame to insulate and protect the area from the winter elements. Property owners may also choose to add temporary sealers around windows and unused doors throughout the home to best insulate the home from the harsh winter cold.
Prepare For Heating Your Home
Adirondack winters are always chilly, so preparing your heating source to run efficiently and reliably for the duration of the cold season is a must to keep your home and family safe and comfortable. It is often helpful to think of your heating source as a machine that needs regular and routine maintenance, just like your vehicle. No matter what type of heating system you have, all run best with yearly cleaning and regular maintenance check-ups by a knowledgeable technician. Taking the steps listed below for each type of heating system will help keep your equipment in tip-top shape, especially for those times when you need it most, like the common negative cold snaps we get in the North Country.
Gas, Oil, Hot Water, Boiler
Each year, an important fall task included in how to prepare your home for winter is to call your oil service company to have your system serviced and cleaned. To create an easy reminder for yourself, make a recurring yearly appointment with an alert on your family’s digital calendar. Remembering to complete this yearly maintenance will protect your unit from burning excess fuel and running inefficiently. In the long run, this will save you money on fuel as well as future maintenance costs. During this yearly check up, your service company will check lines and make sure nothing has built up in lines or vents during the summer months when the heat was turned off.
Wood Burning Fireplace, Wood Stove & Pellet Stoves
Fall is the perfect time to have your chimney or exhaust pipes cleaned. Also, if you didn’t get your wood shed filled up over the summer or your pellet storage stocked, it’s also time to reach out to a local company to place your order. When ordering firewood make sure it is seasoned so you can avoid burning un-seasoned green wood that can cause creosote buildup in the chimney which can lead to an exhaust fire and put your house at risk for burning down. Once your wood or pellets arrive, it is time to stack everything up in a storage area that will keep materials dry and accessible for the season.
For seasoned firewood, stack outside but be sure the stack is lifted off the ground as well as partially covered. Keeping it off the ground will protect it from additional ground moisture that makes it harder to ignite and more likely to burn smoky in your stove. Stacking your wood in an easy to reach location will make for easy access when a large snowstorm arrives or when you need to dash out for additional pieces to bank the stove when it’s extra chilly. To store your wood pellets, an indoor location is ideal to protect them from moisture in case of bag breakage. Moisture can rot pellets making them unusable and wasting money. Keeping them inside offers extra protection against loss and keeps them out of the elements.
Similar to the Closing Up Your Adirondack Camp For The Winter , you should walk your property and visually inspect all structures and grounds areas to see what maintenance and care might be needed in these areas. The first thing to do is rake and mow to be sure the yard is ready to thrive at spring thaw and to cut back on your clean up time. Next, clear any lawn art, hoses or anything else that could freeze or be damaged in the winter elements. Also, inspect any trees around your home and property and clear dead limbs that could damage your home or other structures when snow and ice arrive. Any branches overhanging your house or outbuilding could break off due to additional weight from snow and ice causing costly damage to your roof.
Finally, make sure that you winterize your gas powered summer maintenance tools by running them dry. Leaving old gas in these tools is not ideal as it can gum up and shorten the equipment’s lifespan and cause long-term maintenance issues. Lastly, pull out all the winter equipment you are likely to need when the first big storm hits – movable generators and snowblowers- and test to make sure everything is running smoothly. If they need any service, now is the time to have that done. It’s better to find out that the snowblower is running rough while the weather’s good instead of when there is a foot of snow and the wind is howling.
Learning about and planning how to prepare your home for winter can be a big job, but keeping a checklist of the tasks above in your phone or posted at your property can be a good start. With some careful planning and hard work, you can head into winter with confidence that your home will stay safe and comfortable all winter long.