Fall has arrived in the Midwest, and we all know that winter isn’t far away. It’s time to get your home ready for the cold weather. So, what should you do to make sure your home is ready for winter?
First, if you haven’t done so already, replace your old, inefficient windows and doors. You will notice a considerable reduction in your heating costs, and you may qualify for rebates from your energy company (see my previous post for more information on this subject). In addition, many manufacturers are offering incentives, such as free high efficiency glass upgrades or internal blinds in their windows.
If you have already replaced windows and doors, here’s a hint – do not remove your screens for the season. While it used to be recommended to take down screens for the winter, and, of course, to install storm windows, the new, efficient windows don’t require storm windows. And, new screens are designed to withstand harsh weather, making removal completely unnecessary. Leave the screens in place, and then you won’t have to worry about trying to get them back in place properly in the spring.
Next, make sure you clean out your gutters. Nothing causes ice backup more than leaves and debris in your gutters. Also, if you have flexible diverters attached to your gutters, make sure you remove them. Otherwise, water may build up in them, turning to ice when it freezes, making it impossible for your gutters to drain properly. And, if you are concerned about ice forming in your gutters, you can always look into having electrical wiring installed to thaw them. Remember, this is mixing electricity with water, so make sure you have a professional do this installation – this is not a job for an amateur. Check online or in the yellow pages for a certified electrician with experience in this type of installation, and make sure they know what they’re doing.
Obviously, now is the time to have your furnace checked out by a professional. Make sure all the seasonal services are performed before cold weather sets in, replace filters, and, if you have a combination heating/air conditioner unit, make sure you set it to “winter” so that the humidifier will work. If your furnace is getting on in years, now is also the time to look into replacing it. HVAC contractors are offering preseason specials right now, plus, you may qualify for energy rebates, just like for new windows.
Don’t forget to check trees on your property for dead or overhanging branches. The last thing you want in the dead of winter is for a branch to break and cause damage to your roof or take out a power line! And, if you have a wood burning fireplace, have the chimney cleaned before you start using it for the season to eliminate fire hazards. If you have a gas fireplace, it’s also a good idea to periodically have all the connections checked out by a professional for safety.
Enjoy the autumn weather with occasional warm days while you can, but don’t forget to prepare for the winter that’s just around the corner!