5 Simple Tips to Prepare Your Home For Winter
1. Stop The Drafts and Keep It Warm
Chicago is the windy city! Whether you’re in a single family home, townhome, loft, or high rise condo, you can’t always escape the sudden changes in temperature and blustery gusts that hit communities along the lake. Check your home for air leaks, including windows, doors, and cracks in the walls. Also inspect areas outside your home, including your balcony. This involves taking a good look at faucets and air vents. Drafts not only bring the chill inside but can also put a hole in your wallet causing a big drain on your heating bill. Consider adding weather stripping or door sweeps around and under exterior doors, caulk any gaps, and if applicable, install storm doors and windows. A draft stopper is a quick and easy way to stop drafts, especially those coming from your front door, garage access, or balcony.
Floor to ceiling windows offer striking views and lots of natural light in the South Loop. However, all that glass can make your condo feel colder in winter. In addition, while modern high-rises offer excellent insulation, lofts and older buildings may be lacking. If you want to keep the warm air in, consider using insulated curtains to keep the cold air outside! If drafts are really bad, invest in some self-stick plastic on windows you don’t use that often.
Reversing your ceiling fans can also help keep your home warm. Check for a switch to change them so they push the heated air down. Also, change your air filters to ensure optimum efficiency. Dirty filters can cause heating problems.
2. Protect Your Pipes from Freezing and Bursting
Before you do anything else, unhook all your hoses from outside faucets. Then, drain and check your exterior pipes. Replace any parts that show signs of weakness or moisture. Also consider insulating exterior and basement pipes.
Preparing your home for winter should also include insulating pipes in your home that are near windows and doors or areas that are unheated. Make sure you know how to turn off your water in case pipes do freeze and burst. It’s also recommended to keep your thermostat set to at least 55 degrees (F). In fact, you should keep your heat on, even if you go out of town. This can help prevent your pipes from freezing and believe it or not, even save money on your heating bill. Consider installing a programmable thermostat to set temperatures for when you are home and away.
You should also flush your hot water tank to remove sediment and insulate older hot water tanks to conserve energy and save money.
3. Clean Your Dryer Vents
You may not realize it, but dryer vents can be a major fire hazard. In addition to cleaning your lint filter after each load, you should also clean the lint vent. You will be shocked at how much lint gathers here. These vents can be located at the back or front of the dryer. Check your manufacturer’s instructions for how to clean the vent.
4. Check Your Roof and Outdoor Lighting
It’s important to do this before winter takes its toll. Make sure to clear your roof of debris including leaves and stray tree limbs. Also, trim limbs that could fall and damage your roof. Check for loose shingles and clear your gutters and downspouts. Leaves, sticks, etc., can prevent melting snow from draining and create ice dams which in turn can leak into your roof and cause damage. Check the seals around your chimney and vents. Consider hiring a chimney sweep to remove debris that could become a fire hazard. Make sure outside lighting is in working order. This is especially important as temperatures drop and sidewalks and driveways could be covered in snow and ice.
5. Be Prepared for Winter Storms and Emergencies
You never know when the next big storm will hit. Protect your entryway and avoid slipping hazards with boot trays, rugs, and outdoor mats. Check your batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You should have a smoke alarm in every room, including hallways. It’s also a good idea to review your home insurance to ensure coverage for storm damage.
Make sure you are prepared for winter with a good supply of snow shovels, salt, window scrapers, batteries, flashlights, etc. Don’t forget to clear your decks and balconies after a snow storm. Check with your building management on how to do this if you live in a high-rise condo with a balcony. Make sure your snow blower is in working order.
Be prepared for outages. It may seem old-fashioned, but it’s smart to keep a battery-operated radio on hand if power goes out and you can’t recharge your phone or electronic devices. Keep a supply of bottled water and non-perishable food on hand so you don’t have to leave your house in terrible weather.
Keeping your home well maintained during any season will help you save money in the long run. Preparing your home for winter now means you can avoid costly repairs later on and be ready to go when you decide to sell your home. So, take care of this list today and then relax knowing you’ll be ready for a long Chicago winter!
If you’re looking to sell your home in the winter, reach out to Terri to get started.