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How to Prepare Your Home for Winter

2-story home in the snow

Love it or you hate it, the winter months are here! As a homeowner, this time of year can be especially trying. There’s already a host of important maintenance tasks you should keep up with year-round. Winter adds a whole new list of obligations to keep your home in good shape. Unsure where to start? Here are some important ways to prepare your home for winter.    

Tend to Your HVAC System

Nothing is worse than getting ready to spend a cozy night in only to find out that your HVAC system is on the fritz. Get ahead of any issues with regular maintenance – especially before the winter months. While heating and air systems are projected to last 12 to 15 years, maintenance can extend that lifetime. Homeowners should change their air filters at least every six months and have a contractor inspect the entire system right before the weather gets cold. 

Reverse Your Ceiling Fans 

It may seem counterintuitive to use your ceiling fan in the winter but it can actually be a great asset to you in heating your home. As basic physics states, heat rises. Sometimes it can get trapped above leaving you wondering why you have to turn the heat up so high before feeling warm. If you reverse your ceiling fan to spin clockwise to produce an updraft, it will push down all that heated air. This can be especially helpful in homes with high ceilings.  

Clean Out Your Gutters

An overflowing, clogged gutter is a recipe for disaster in the winter. As snow melts off the roof, it will either get trapped or seep down the home’s siding. This can lead to the deterioration of your exterior walls and foundation. It can also breech your basement if this water saturates the ground around your home. When freezing temperatures hit, a clogged gutter can also cause an ice dam. Be sure to clear out leaves, dirt, and other debris before the height of winter. 

Trim Tree Branches 

Dead, loose tree branches can result in costly damage if a winter storm causes them to break. Roof damage isn’t something you want to deal with in the middle of winter. Overhanging limbs can also cause excess water to fall in a steady stream on your roof which could lead to water damage. Before disaster strikes, trim any tree branches within a three-foot radius of your home. 

Be Mindful of Drainage 

When’s the last time you took a look at the drainage around your home? This all too important yet often forgotten feature of your home helps water drain away from your home rather than towards it. If the drainage isn’t graded correctly, water can collect around the foundation of your home and damage its structural integrity. Be sure the soil around your home hasn’t settled. Fill any low spots with soil before snowfall so the melted water doesn’t get into your home. Also, make sure your rain gutter downspout is flowing away from the home too. Get a downspout extender if possible.

Mow Instead of Raking 

Raking is a long-held standard in lawn maintenance. But there is an easier alternative that can actually help your lawn in the next growing season. Instead of raking, try mowing your leaves with the bag detached. A recent study conducted by the University of Michigan and Purdue found that the cut-up leaves will decompose easier in your lawn and nourish your lawn throughout the winter. 

Clean and Inspect Fireplace

Cleaning your fireplace chimney is a vital housekeeping task that you’ll want to do before the heating season. Over time, soot, creosote, and other foreign objects can collect in the chimney. This can be a major fire hazard if left unchecked. Be sure to have a professional service your chimney once a year or every 50 uses. 

Get Your Essentials in Order

There are a few essentials that will make your winter a lot easier as a homeowner. Be sure to gather these items before winter or at the beginning of the winter to start the season off right:

  • Salt or ice melt
  • Ice scraper and shovel 
  • Firewood if you use a fireplace 
  • Draft guard for door 
  • Leak detector 

While there’s no guarantee that this winter will go off without any issues, you’ll be a lot more likely to have a more enjoyable season if you follow the suggestions above. Do the work now so you don’t end up kicking yourself over avoidable catastrophes down the road. Good luck and have a great holiday season! 

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