Your home is an investment that requires year-round maintenance. Protecting it from the elements is essential, especially during the winter. Whether you’re staying around or moving south to warmer weather, you’ll want to follow this checklist to ensure your home is prepped and ready for the upcoming months.
Test Smoke Alarms + Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Did you know most house fires happen during the winter months? Now is the time to check them to ensure they are working and have new batteries. You can test your fire alarm by pressing and holding the test button on the smoke detector. It can take a few seconds to begin, but a loud, ear-piercing siren should emanate from the smoke detector while the button is pressed. If the sound is weak or nonexistent, replace your batteries! You can learn how to test your carbon monoxide detectors here.
Check the Heating and Air Conditioning System
Your home’s heating and air conditioning system has a lifetime of 10-15 years. Proper maintenance will save you in the long run on the cost of repairs and potentially having to prematurely replace the system. Before temperatures drop, be sure to have your system checked by a professional. It’s best to be proactive about this every year so you can be confident your heat will work when you need it.
- Consider buying a programmable thermostat to customize heating when you need it.
- Replace your filter every three months to keep your furnace running efficiently
Clean the Chimney
Before you start building fires this winter, have your chimney professionally cleaned and inspected to make sure it’s safe to use. Now is the time to get fresh firewood for the season and check your old firewood to make sure it isn’t producing mold.
Keeping the cold out is important to reduce energy bills. Weatherstripping or installing storm doors and windows will help prevent cold air from entering your home or heat from escaping it. Caulk around windows and use foam outlet protectors to prevent cold air from entering your home. It’s also advisable to check to make sure that you have enough insulation in the attic.
Clean the Gutters
Backed up gutters will create overflow that runs down the sides of your home, causing the exterior to deteriorate faster. Once the trees look like they have lost most of their leaves, it’s time to clean your gutters. Also, check that downspouts are directing water away from your home. Wet soil around the foundation can cause damage as it freezes and thaws throughout the winter months.
Close Up the Pool
This can be worth paying a professional to do so they can inspect the system before shutting it down for the year. This way, if any repairs need to be made you can take care of it right away, or budget for them in the spring.
Tend to the Lawn
Taking care of your lawn in the fall will give you a fresher look when the snow melts. Applying a fertilizer with winterizer in late October will lead you to a healthier lawn in the spring.
Paint and Seal Exterior Wood
Materials used on decks are usually rot-resistant or pressure treated, but the trim around the exterior of your home will deteriorate quickly if it isn’t painted and caulked. Touching up cracked caulk or chipped paint on trim is a simple task you can do yourself before the cold hits.
Protect Your Pipes From Freezing
Insulate unprotected pipes with pipe sleeves. Keep the pieces tight against each other and seal the slits and joints with duct tape.
Outdoor Water Faucets and Hoses
Disconnect garden hoses from exterior faucets, drain and store them protected from the cold to prevent water from freezing in the hose and damaging the faucet. If the exterior faucets have cut-off valves, close them and drain the faucets. If they don’t, insulate them with foam faucet covers.
Protect Outdoor Furniture and Grills
If possible, store them in the garage or basement. If you have a gas grill with a propane tank, close the tank valve and disconnect the tank first. It must be stored outside. If you don’t have storage space for your items, purchase covers to protect them from the elements.
Maintain Your Outdoor Equipment
Clean and fix any outdoor power tools such as mowers and weed trimmers before storing them for the winter. If you have a snow blower, tune it up now and add gas/oil so it will be ready when you need it.
If you are relocating south for the winter, there are additional things you’ll want to do. Check out the list below. MyDwelling, one of our Shorewest companies, can help you manage your property while you’re away with its Home and Condo Management program. They will visit your property weekly and take all the worry out of the home being vacant. They can also assist if you choose to rent the property while you’re away, by coordinating maintenance repairs, move-in/out checklists, rent collection, security deposit, and accounting management. They can also monitor furnaces, walk-throughs following a rain storm, schedule gutter cleanings and more!
- Forward your mail, stop your newspaper deliveries or ask a friend or relative to collect things that are left on your doorstep.
- Arrange for someone to shovel the driveway after a snow storm.
- To make sure your home looks like it is continuously occupied, set some interior lights on a timer, and put motion-sensor lights on the exterior.
- Confirm that your alarm systems are in working order and have been turned on. Or download an app to your phone that can control the alarm from anywhere.
- Depending on how long you will be gone, you can protect your pipes by turning off your water. Hire a plumber to blow compressed air through the pipes to make sure there is no excess water left.
- Otherwise, if your home will only be vacant for a short amount of time, you will need to keep your home at a minimum of 55°F to keep pipes from freezing. Leaving room doors and under the sink cabinets open will also help the circulation.
- Clean, defrost and unplug refrigerators and freezers by wiping them dry and leaving doors propped open to prevent mildew.
- Store valuables that you are not taking with you in a safe or an offsite location.
- Unplug all unnecessary appliances before you leave.
Winter is right around the corner in Wisconsin. Take the time now to get your home — inside and out — ready for the cold weather.