Are you ready for the winter?
Winter is just around the corner. With the first few snowflakes that landed this morning and melting as it hit the ground we start thinking about the last minute fixes and things we needed to get done before the winter hits. Are you and your home ready for the cold weather? Have you done any upgrades during the summer that will allow your home to hold in more heat? Upgraded from a chimney vented furnace to an energy efficient? These type of upgrades are great however, they may cause higher humidity and in turn condensation at any cold spots such as where the drywall meets the ceiling. Getting the exterior of the home ready for the cold winds, snow and ice is critical for keeping Old Man Winter out and keeping it warm and toasty inside.
Windows and Doors
- Check and replace if necessary all the weatherstripping around windows and doorframes for leaks to prevent heat loss, condensation and frost build up.
- Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay. Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity. If you believe it is mold infested and has wicked into your walls contact a professional for a mold inspection – Thermal Imaging may be necessary and the best time to detect heat loss in your home is when it is cold outside.
- Check for drafts around windows and doors. Caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping.
- Inspect windows for cracks, broken glass, or gaps. Repair or replace, if needed.
Lawn, Garden, and Deck
- Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires to prevent iced-over or wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem. In some cases it could be the cities responsibility to do this and all you usually have to do is report it. .
- Ensure rain or snow drains away from the house to avoid foundation problems. The dirt grade — around the exterior of your home — should slope away from the house. Add clay and or extra dirt to lower areas, as necessary.
- Clean and dry patio furniture. Cover with a heavy tarp or store inside a shed or garage to protect it from water damage or rusting.
- Clean soil from planters. Bring pots made of clay or other fragile materials indoors. Because terra cotta pots can swell and crack, lay them on their sides in a wood carton or better yet a plastic tote.
- Remove any attached hoses and store them away for the winter to prevent cracks, preserve their shapes, and prolong their life. Wrap outside faucets with covers to prevent water damage.
- Shut off exterior faucets. Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to protect against pipe bursts. Have your sprinklers professionally blown out.
- Inspect decks for splintering, decay, or insect damage and treat, if needed, to prevent further deterioration over the winter.
- Clean leaves, dirt, and pine needles between the boards of wooden decks to thwart mold and mildew growth.
- Inspect outdoor lighting around the property. Good illumination will help minimize the chance of accidents on icy walkways at night.
- Check handrails on exterior stairs to make sure they’re well secured.
Tools and Machinery
- Bring all your seasonal tools inside and spray them with a coating of lightweight oil to prevent rust. Pam cooking oils work great for this.
- Move your snow blower and shovels to the front of the garage or shed for easy access.
- Prepare the snow blower for the first snowfall by changing the oil and replacing the spark plug.
- Sharpen ice chopper and inspect snow shovels to make sure they’re ready for another season of work. There is nothing worse then finding out your shovel is broken when you need it most!
- Make sure you have an ample supply of ice melt or sand on hand for steps, walkways, and the driveway. If you rent – make sure your landlord is okay with you using salt on your walkways and always make sure to keep the salt off the grass to keep the lawn nice and green in the spring.
Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning
- Inspect the firebox and flue system to ensure that they’re clean of any soot or creosote and that there aren’t any cracks or voids that could cause a fire hazard.
- Check fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may be warped, worn, or rusted. Consider installing a Chimney Balloon into the flue to air seal the area tightly. Check to see where the chimney is vented into as well.
- Clean or replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum efficiency and improved indoor air quality. The filter should be replaced every month for best efficiency.
- Clean any humidifiers and replace the evaporator pad.
- Bleed valves on any hot-water radiators to increase heating efficiency by releasing air that may be trapped inside.
- Check that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order. You should replace the batteries regularly just to be safe!
- Remove air conditioners from windows or cover them with insulated liners, to prevent drafts. You should also clean them after they are done being used for the season to prevent any mold growth while being stored. Clean out any water inside of them and empty and dry out any water that drains in the window vented systems.
- Install foam-insulating sheets behind outlets and switch plates on exterior walls to reduce outside airflow.
- Make sure fans are switched to the reverse or clockwise position, which will blow warm air down to the floor for enhanced energy efficiency and comfort. This is also important in the bathrooms to make sure the fans are working properly to reduce condensation.
- Flush a hot water heater tank to remove sediment, and check the pressure relief valve to make sure it’s in proper working order.
- Examine exposed ducts in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces, and use a sealant such as spray foam to plug up any leaks.
- Check and make sure the insulation in the attic is not being compromised by mice, bats or other rodents. This is a lot more common then you think!
Gutters, Roof, and Drains
- Check for missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace, as necessary before you get stuck with a leak.
- Check for deteriorated flashing at the chimney, walls, and skylights and around vent pipes. Seal joints where water could penetrate, using roofing cement and a caulking gun.
- Check the gutters and downspouts for proper fastening, and re-secure if loose or sagging. The weight of snow and ice can pull gutters off the house.
- Clean gutters of any debris. Make sure downspouts extend away from the house by at least 5 feet to prevent flooding of the foundation and water damage from snowmelt.
- Rake up leaves and debris from the yard and pool storm drains to prevent blockages.
- Check all vents and openings and make sure they are covered to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from getting inside to nest in a warm place.
For a mold inspection to ensure the air quality of your home is safe call us today! Peace of mind is just a phone call away! 1-888-909-6653 a friendly knowledgeable representative is always available for information and advise.