Give your home a once-over and tend to winter preparation tasks and repairs before the year’s first frost. “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,” says Reggie Marston, president of Residential Equity Management Home Inspections in Springfield, VA. By being proactive, you’ll lower your energy bills, increase the efficiency and lifespan of your home’s components, and make your property safer.
Windows and Doors
- Check all the weatherstripping around windows and doorframes for leaks to prevent heat loss. Replace weatherstripping, if necessary.
- Replace all screen doors with storm doors.
- Replace all window screens with storm windows.
- Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay. Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity.
- 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.
- Aerate the lawn, reseed, and apply a winterizing fertilizer to promote deep-root growth come spring.
- 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 extra dirt to low areas, as necessary.
- Clean and dry patio furniture. Cover with a heavy tarp or store inside a shed or garage to protect it from the elements.
- 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.
- Dig up flower bulbs, brush off soil, and label. Store bulbs in a bag or box with peat moss in a cool, dry place for spring replanting.
- 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.
- 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.
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