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"Winterizing" Your Home to Keep Old Man Winter out in the Cold

As the nights turn chilly and the days become shorter, we know all too well that winter is on its way. Homeowners should take the time now to ready both their summer and permanent homes for the upcoming cold weather. Using the guidelines prepared below, DIY'ers can learn how important winterizing is and which areas should be prepared. From the roof to the inside out, this handy guide gives you a quick listing of just what it takes to winterize your home. Follow these handy tips to keep Old Man Winter out in the cold where he belongs!

Up On the Roof

  • Check chimney for loose masonry.
  • Check chimney and chimney cap for signs of smoke or water damage or leaks.
  • Inspect the roof for loose, damaged or missing pieces.
  • HANDY TIP: Use a good pair of binoculars, it's easier and much safer than using a shaky old ladder.

  • Check soffits for signs of moisture build-up. Soffit is the underside of an eave.
  • Check flashings for lifting or poor seals. Flashing is a covering used to seal the base of chimneys and vent pipes.
  • Clean out accumulated leaves and messy "gunk" from gutters and drainpipes.
  • Run water through to make sure they drain properly and don't leak. Repair and replace if needed.
  • Check attic vent openings for nests or other blockages.
  • Make sure vents and/or attic fans work properly.
  • Look for signs of roof or flashing leaks on rafters and insulation.

Inside Your Home

  • If you plan to use your wood stove or fireplace this year, check your chimney before hand for soot build-up. It should be cleaned before it reaches one-fourth inch thickness inside the chimney flu.
  • Make sure fireplace and wood stove doors seal tightly, or install doors or covers to seal them.
  • Close dampers, but don't forget to open them before you light the fires!
  • Check all windows and doors for air leaks.
  • Putty, caulk or add weatherstripping as needed.
  • Clean and lubricate window channels for smoother sliding.
  • Check basement and cellars for _ and seal _ cracks or leaks in walls and floor.
  • Make sure all vents are clean and operating properly.
  • Test, clean and lubricate sump pumps.
  • Discard accumulated junk.
  • Clean permanent furnace filters and replace paper or disposable filters. Do this monthly through the heating system during winter months.
  • Have furnace systems serviced once a year or as recommended by your manufacturer (or gas or oil company). Many chores, such as lubricating pumps, fans and motors, draining radiators, etc., are relatively easy. You might want to have a professional service them, and show you how, so you can do it in the future.
  • Clean and vacuum baseboard heaters, heating ducts and vents.
  • Remove or winterize air conditioners, following manufacturers' directions.
  • Check hot water heaters for leaks.

Outside Your Home

  • Put away or cover outdoor furniture and barbecues.
  • Check porch, patio and deck supports and foundations for rot, missing connections or other problems.
  • Add slip-proof strips to steps, stairs or other slippery spots.
  • Reset exterior light timers and make sure all outdoor lights are working.
  • Check exterior walls for missing or loose siding.
  • Caulk joints and minor cracks on exterior walls and siding.
  • Look for deteriorating finishes. Minor problems can be patched to preserve the wood. Put bigger jobs, such as scraping and refinishing painted or stained areas, on the calendar for next spring or early summer.
  • If you have storm windows, they should go up now before the weather turns.
  • Drain and shut off sprinkler systems and other exterior water lines to avoid frozen and broken pipes. Leave all taps slightly open.
  • Insulate exterior spigots and other pipes that are subject to freezing but can't be drained or shut off.
  • Rake and compost leaves and garden debris, or put out for yard-waste pickup.
  • Trim trees and shrubbery.
  • Plant spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips.
  • Divide perennials.
  • Clean storm drains and other drain pipes.
  • Check the foundation for proper drainage. Spray with a hose, or watch closely during a rainstorm, to see if water runs away from the house. A little shoveling to reshape the earth next to the house may make the water run away from the foundation.
  • Make sure the downspouts carry water at least three feet away from the house and onto ground that slopes and drains away from the house.
  • Make sure dirt or piles of wood don't come into contact with or touch siding. That can bring termites and carpenter ants into the house.
  • Clean out window wells thoroughly.
  • Seal driveway and walkway cracks, if needed, before ground freezes regularly.


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