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Home Improvement: Will You Be Prepared For Winter?

Home Improvement: Will You Be Prepared For Winter?
Our Home Services Link columnist takes you through the key steps to readying your home for the coming winter months. Don't leave your house in the cold, unprotected!

 

I know I told you last week we would cover DIY or DIR, but the weather is turning, and I would hate for you to not be ready. Getting the home ready for winter is usually not very high on people's priority lists. You always think you have another week or month before you need to get things buttoned up, and then surprise: A cold wave or the unpredicted snow storm rolls through. So, what are the items you can get away with procrastinating on, and which items are critical?

 

Critical Tasks
You will probably be amazed, but one of the most critical items to take care of is cleaning your gutters. If you put this off and the wet mass of leaves freeze, you are stuck with them until spring or an extended warm spell in mid-winter thaws them. Once frozen, there is no removing the mass without doing major damage to your gutters. This is a fairly inexpensive job to hire out and much safer especially if you have a two-story house. My doctor informed me a fall from two feet off the ground is enough to break a hip.

 

The only other critical item I have on my list deals with caulking and painting. You want to make sure any open channels in the exterior envelope of your home that can allow moisture penetration are sealed. The damage can come in a couple ways. Expansion as the moisture freezes can cause damage as the material swells or the material will rot from the extended exposure to moisture for three to five months. It will be well into spring or possibly the summer months before things dry out enough to caulk and paint.

 

The next item on my priority list is to service the furnace. This would include cleaning the blower, replacing or cleaning filters and checking that all systems are functioning at optimum levels. Annual furnace service does two things: It maximizes the life of your equipment and potentially saves money on your energy bills. Replacing or cleaning filters is something you can do on your own. Proper checking and service of the system usually requires the skill and diagnostic equipment of a professional. The most cost-effective way to handle this is with an annual service agreement.

 

Another item people wait too long to address is winterization of an irrigation system. Once it begins to cool off, don't hesitate to have the system drained and blown out. It's definitely much less expensive than replacing the damaged components.

 

Less Important Items on the Checklist (That Still Deserve Your Attention)
Now that the key items are taken care of, here are a couple more to consider. If you have a wood-burning fireplace and plan to use it, you should consider having the chimney cleaned, especially if it has been a couple years since it was last inspected.

 

Also, make sure you disconnect the hoses from your outside hose bibs. Even though the water is turned off, water in the hose can freeze and back up into the faucet, splitting the faucet stem. You won't know it happened until you turn on the faucet next spring and water floods into your house.

 

Finally, I would check the weather stripping and seals around the doors and windows to keep the cold winter air outside where it belongs. It is inexpensive to replace weather stripping, compared to the increased energy costs from the drafty doors and windows. If your windows and doors are drafty, the proper solution may be replacement windows and doors. This is a more costly solution, but these usually also enhance the curb appeal of your home.

 

These few items should prepare you for old man winter. The past couple years we have also seen many homes with ice damming issues, resulting in water staining of interior walls and ceilings. Ice damming occurs when heat escapes from the house into the attic, melting snow on the roof, which then freezes again in the gutter area, forming a dam holding water on the roof. The water works its way under the shingles and leaks into the attic and soffit. Preventing ice dams is accomplished with better insulation in the attic installed properly. If you have seen large icicles hanging from your gutters in past years, you may be vulnerable to ice damming.

 

So, getting your home ready for winter is not that big of a task and one that you should not put off. It doesn't hurt to be ready early. If you require professional assistance with any of these items from quality service providers, Home Services Link is here and ready to help you. Stay tuned, as next week we will debate the issue of DIY or DIR.

Jim Bextermueller -

Jim Bextermueller is the home improvement and repair columnist for Cincy Chic and owner of Home Services Link, a locally owned service for finding insured, quality contractors and service providers that you can trust to do the work and trust in your home. To learn more, visit www.homeserviceslink.com or email Jim at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ?subject=Cincy%20Chic%20Inquiry" target="_self" data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ?subject=Cincy'; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text34664 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Chic Inquiry"> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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