Winter Preparation Checklist

Whether you’re ready for it or not, the slippery sidewalks, chilled-to-the-bone mornings, and shoveling of the puffy white stuff is right around the corner. To ensure a smooth transition, start winterizing your home now before the cold sets in and the hibernation begins.  Take a quick peek at this checklist to get everything ready in your home and rest assured all systems are a go for those chilly months. The only maintenance you should be doing this winter is adjusting the carrot nose on your snowman!

Winterizing your Home

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Heating Systems

Give your heating system a test run now to make sure it will run smoothly when you need it! Start by turning your thermostat to 80 degrees, set it to heat mode, and listen for the sound of your furnace turning on. If you feel warm air blowing within a few minutes then your system is running smoothly. If not, you will need to diagnose the problem and either try and fix it yourself or call a technician.

While you are checking your heating system, it might be a good idea to replace your furnace air filter. This is something that should be done every 3-4 months and only takes a couple of minutes! Simply turn the furnace off, remove the cover, and pull the filter out. The dimensions of the filter should be printed on the frame. Replace the filter and double check that you are inserting it the right way. Put the cover back in place and you are all set!

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. Be sure to protect your home with a carbon monoxide detector that will keep you and your family will be safe this winter! Change the batteries in it and your smoke detector in the spring and fall when you change your clocks is a handy habit to remind yourself.

Give your air conditioning unit a little TLC  too. Although it may seem like a distant dream, summer will, in fact, come back in a few months and having a working AC unit is a must! Clean it out using a hose with a spray-head set to the highest pressure. Make sure to clear the fan blades and condensing coils of any dirt or residue for the best results. During the winter your condensing unit can become damaged by debris that freezes over and causes rusting. Using a breathable waterproof cover can protect your condensing unit from the harsh weather and extend its life overall!

The next heating system you should check is your wood-burning fireplace and chimney. If ignored, your chimney can become a source of cold air leaks. Take the time to check your chimney for any small animal nests. Then run a test to see if it has any drafts that will keep it from drawing up the fire and smoke. Switch your fireplace damper to the open position, take some rolled up newspaper sheets, and light them. If the smoke rises out of the chimney, you will know that it is working properly. If it does not, your chimney will most likely need professional cleaning. You should also inspect the brick in the fireplace for open mortar joints. Repair any openings immediately to avoid fire spreading into the stud wall behind the brick.

Insulation Tips

There are a couple of easy ways to insulate your home and keep it toasty warm in the winter. Use foam sealant to insulate exterior outlets and switch plates. You can also insulate your water heater with an insulation blanket to keep those warm showers flowing a little bit longer.

man in large fur coatWere there a couple of extra zeroes on your heating bill last year? Your windows and doors might be to blame! Check for air leaks on a windy day. Close your windows and feel for any cold drafts. You can also use an incense stick – if the smoke trail isn’t vertical, you have an air leak. Air leaks tend to be at the edges of windows, so be sure to check every corner well! To seal any leaks, you can use tape or rope caulk, depending on your preference. Repeat the process with doors – check for air drafts and patch them up with weather stripping.

Landscaping

Raccon playing in sprinklerThe end of October is the perfect time to winterize your sprinkler system. This includes turning off the water supply and cleaning sprinkler lines with compressed air to clear debris.

It’s also a good idea to prepare your yard for snowfall. Start by covering all patio furniture. You might also consider giving your driveway or patio a coat of sealer to protect it from cracks and damage from the winter chill.

Now that your home is winterized, it’s time to turn your attention elsewhere! Here are some tips on how to winterize your RVs and automobiles.

Winterizing your RVs and Automobiles

RVs

It’s time to turn that sweet ride full of summer memories in for a winter nap. To start, drain the black water holding tank, followed by the grey and fresh water holding tanks. Don’t forget to  clean the black tank out with a wand. Open all the hot and cold faucets, including the toilet valve and outside shower. Bypass the water heater and install a water pump converter kit. Connect the tubing from the water pump kit to a gallon of RV antifreeze. Turn the water pump on and pressurize the system. Check to see that the antifreeze appears in the toilet after flushing and is coming out of the hot and cold faucets. Then make sure all faucets are closed before saying goodbye to your RV for the winter.

Automobiles

The winter can be tough on cars. Don’t wait until that snowy morning when your car won’t start and you’re late to work. Check your car’s battery by having a mechanic run a battery load test. If there is any corrosion, now is the time to have your battery replaced! While in the shop, also be sure to have the mechanic check your tire treads so you’ll be able to take on the changing road conditions that come along with the winter months.

Changing your wiper blades and refilling your wiper fluid is another important step to keep your car in tiptop shape and ready to take on anything winter throws its way!. Wiper blades tend to need replacement every year. Now that you know your car will start and your visibility will be clear, you’ve got the green light to drive your car this winter!