Is Your Home Ready for Winter?
  • Unlike the transition between other seasons, getting your home ready for winter takes special preparation Relocation Today Fall Leavesin many parts of the country. Whether you were ready or not, some parts of the U.S. are not far from winter storms! The end of October is perfect timing for readying your home for the change winter brings. Get started now – there is a lot to do before you can snuggle in for a long winter's night... and feel secure that your home can weather the season! Check out our recommendations below:

    Start Outside:

    A sunny, crisp fall day is perfect for prepping the exterior of your home. If you wait too long, you may be out in some cold blustery air or even sleet trying to beat the winter clock. Below is a list of 'Must-Do's' for winter climates, and 'Should-Do's" for many other areas.

    1. Clean Gutters
    Gutters fill up with leaves, twigs, dirt, and miscellaneous debris. If you are heading into your area's rainy season, your gutters should flow freely so they do not overflow. For those in freezing climates, it is important to have clear gutters to avoid blockages that freeze, possibly causing ice dams. Check out these helpful hints:

    • Use a spatula to scoop out leaves.
    • Once the gutters are clear of debris, rinse with a hose and look for leaks. Seal any leaking areas with the appropriate sealant for the climate and the gutters.
    • Cover gutters with mesh to avoid having to do as much gutter cleaning next year!
    • Be sure downspouts are set to drain at least 10 feet away from your foundation.

    2. Block Leaks
    Check weather stripping around doors, windows, and garage doors. If it is brittle, dry, or cracking it may need replacement for best function. Use weather resistant caulk and masonry sealer as needed to fill voids that may allow cold air or moisture to penetrate the house.

    3. Windows
    In cool climates, taking off screens and storing inside will help the life of your screens. Check for drafty areas and caulk as needed.

    4. Air Conditioner
    Cover the Air Conditioner unit if you will not be using it for the winter season. Before covering, be sure you have cleaned it out. Use a shop vac to suck out any leaves.

    5. Shut off exterior water
    Water to hose bibs must be shut off in freezing climates to avoid possible pipe bursts. Be sure to drain the lines. Store hoses in a garage or shed for the winter so they last longer.

    • In warmer climates, an extra safety measure may be to cover the hose bib with a Styrofoam cup to give a little coverage for those rare freezing nights.

    6. Landscaping
    Cut down landscape and bushes as needed. It is recommended you research the specific plant or bush to determine if fall is the best time for pruning or if you should wait until spring.

    • Bulbs should be planted before the first frost for spring blooms.
    • Add mulch. It adds a buffer to protect against extreme cold (and heat). It also allows for best moisture retention for the plant roots.

    7. Equipment
    Service season-specific equipment like lawn mowers and snow blowers. Be sure your rakes and shovels are in good working order and replace before that big snow storm if needed! It is a good idea to buy ice melt or sand now, as well. You will hate to be stuck that first snow storm and not have what you need.

    • Run the gas out of any gas-fueled lawn mower, leaf blower, or other equipment before storing for the winter.
    • Have your snow blower serviced.
    • Run your generator, if you have one, and be sure it is properly functioning. Most are not stored with fuel.

    Head Inside:
    It is not just the outside that needs attention. Making some preparations inside will help to keep you safe and warm.

    1. Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors
    Test your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector operation, prior to turning your furnace on. Minimally, they should be replaced every 10 years. If they are battery operated, have a stash of batteries ready for when that battery warning starts beeping in the middle of the night. It is easy to just take it down, but you do not want to be without it!

    2. Furnace
    It is a good idea to have an HVAC company come by for a maintenance service. They will be able to confirm your furnace is in proper working order. At the same time, change or clean the filters for best operation.

    3. Interior Pipes
    Insulate or wrap water pipes in garage and basement. Pre-molded foam pipe covers can be purchased at many hardware stores.

    4. Windows
    Those with single pane windows often purchase a kit at the hardware store with an insulating shrink-film to seal the windows from the inside. This process is a very inexpensive and easy way to block window drafts. Of course, you can still utilize these kits if you have dual or triple pane windows, but the need declines accordingly. Also check for drafts that can be reduced by caulking.

    5. Chimneys
    Ah... a nice cozy fire on a cold winter's night... If you enjoy your fireplace, have it cleaned before the winter burning season. For wood-burning fireplaces, creosote can build up; this flammable material can cause chimney fires. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends a "Level 1" safety inspection and cleaning once per year. They will also be able to investigate if the chimney structure is safe. This goes for gas fireplaces as well; although a gas fireplace will not have a creosote build-up, there could be a bird's nest or other blockage high in your chimney. Woodstoves require more frequent cleaning.

    6. Ceiling Fans
    Your ceiling fans were a great help cooling you off a bit over the hot summer, but they can be put to good use in the winter as well. Reverse the ceiling fan rotation in the winter to bring the cold air up and push the warm air into the room. Keep at low speed; in the winter, the blades should turn clockwise – when you are looking up at it - to be considered in reverse. Be sure you have dusted those blades recently!

    7. Emergency Supplies
    Stock up on a few necessities in the pantry in case of a snow or ice storm. Keep an emergency kit in your car, including a space blanket, flares, hand warmer packs (air activated), water, and perhaps a few snacks. A shovel and sand in the car is also a good idea in case you get stuck in a tough spot.

    Vacant Houses
    A vacant house requires an extra level of winterization to avoid issues with frozen pipes. Have a professional go through your home to be sure your investment is as safe as possible during the winter. Arrange for snow removal as needed, and ask someone you trust to regularly check your home. Also, check with your insurance agent on coverage for a vacant home. You may be surprised to find the coverage is more limited than you expect. Put precautions in where you can. Some of these ideas apply even if you are just heading out for a winter vacation.

Is Your Home Ready for Winter?
  • Unlike the transition between other seasons, getting your home ready for winter takes special preparation Relocation Today Fall Leavesin many parts of the country. Whether you were ready or not, some parts of the U.S. are not far from winter storms! The end of October is perfect timing for readying your home for the change winter brings. Get started now – there is a lot to do before you can snuggle in for a long winter's night... and feel secure that your home can weather the season! Check out our recommendations below:

    Start Outside:

    A sunny, crisp fall day is perfect for prepping the exterior of your home. If you wait too long, you may be out in some cold blustery air or even sleet trying to beat the winter clock. Below is a list of 'Must-Do's' for winter climates, and 'Should-Do's" for many other areas.

    1. Clean Gutters
    Gutters fill up with leaves, twigs, dirt, and miscellaneous debris. If you are heading into your area's rainy season, your gutters should flow freely so they do not overflow. For those in freezing climates, it is important to have clear gutters to avoid blockages that freeze, possibly causing ice dams. Check out these helpful hints:

    • Use a spatula to scoop out leaves.
    • Once the gutters are clear of debris, rinse with a hose and look for leaks. Seal any leaking areas with the appropriate sealant for the climate and the gutters.
    • Cover gutters with mesh to avoid having to do as much gutter cleaning next year!
    • Be sure downspouts are set to drain at least 10 feet away from your foundation.

    2. Block Leaks
    Check weather stripping around doors, windows, and garage doors. If it is brittle, dry, or cracking it may need replacement for best function. Use weather resistant caulk and masonry sealer as needed to fill voids that may allow cold air or moisture to penetrate the house.

    3. Windows
    In cool climates, taking off screens and storing inside will help the life of your screens. Check for drafty areas and caulk as needed.

    4. Air Conditioner
    Cover the Air Conditioner unit if you will not be using it for the winter season. Before covering, be sure you have cleaned it out. Use a shop vac to suck out any leaves.

    5. Shut off exterior water
    Water to hose bibs must be shut off in freezing climates to avoid possible pipe bursts. Be sure to drain the lines. Store hoses in a garage or shed for the winter so they last longer.

    • In warmer climates, an extra safety measure may be to cover the hose bib with a Styrofoam cup to give a little coverage for those rare freezing nights.

    6. Landscaping
    Cut down landscape and bushes as needed. It is recommended you research the specific plant or bush to determine if fall is the best time for pruning or if you should wait until spring.

    • Bulbs should be planted before the first frost for spring blooms.
    • Add mulch. It adds a buffer to protect against extreme cold (and heat). It also allows for best moisture retention for the plant roots.

    7. Equipment
    Service season-specific equipment like lawn mowers and snow blowers. Be sure your rakes and shovels are in good working order and replace before that big snow storm if needed! It is a good idea to buy ice melt or sand now, as well. You will hate to be stuck that first snow storm and not have what you need.

    • Run the gas out of any gas-fueled lawn mower, leaf blower, or other equipment before storing for the winter.
    • Have your snow blower serviced.
    • Run your generator, if you have one, and be sure it is properly functioning. Most are not stored with fuel.

    Head Inside:
    It is not just the outside that needs attention. Making some preparations inside will help to keep you safe and warm.

    1. Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors
    Test your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector operation, prior to turning your furnace on. Minimally, they should be replaced every 10 years. If they are battery operated, have a stash of batteries ready for when that battery warning starts beeping in the middle of the night. It is easy to just take it down, but you do not want to be without it!

    2. Furnace
    It is a good idea to have an HVAC company come by for a maintenance service. They will be able to confirm your furnace is in proper working order. At the same time, change or clean the filters for best operation.

    3. Interior Pipes
    Insulate or wrap water pipes in garage and basement. Pre-molded foam pipe covers can be purchased at many hardware stores.

    4. Windows
    Those with single pane windows often purchase a kit at the hardware store with an insulating shrink-film to seal the windows from the inside. This process is a very inexpensive and easy way to block window drafts. Of course, you can still utilize these kits if you have dual or triple pane windows, but the need declines accordingly. Also check for drafts that can be reduced by caulking.

    5. Chimneys
    Ah... a nice cozy fire on a cold winter's night... If you enjoy your fireplace, have it cleaned before the winter burning season. For wood-burning fireplaces, creosote can build up; this flammable material can cause chimney fires. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends a "Level 1" safety inspection and cleaning once per year. They will also be able to investigate if the chimney structure is safe. This goes for gas fireplaces as well; although a gas fireplace will not have a creosote build-up, there could be a bird's nest or other blockage high in your chimney. Woodstoves require more frequent cleaning.

    6. Ceiling Fans
    Your ceiling fans were a great help cooling you off a bit over the hot summer, but they can be put to good use in the winter as well. Reverse the ceiling fan rotation in the winter to bring the cold air up and push the warm air into the room. Keep at low speed; in the winter, the blades should turn clockwise – when you are looking up at it - to be considered in reverse. Be sure you have dusted those blades recently!

    7. Emergency Supplies
    Stock up on a few necessities in the pantry in case of a snow or ice storm. Keep an emergency kit in your car, including a space blanket, flares, hand warmer packs (air activated), water, and perhaps a few snacks. A shovel and sand in the car is also a good idea in case you get stuck in a tough spot.

    Vacant Houses
    A vacant house requires an extra level of winterization to avoid issues with frozen pipes. Have a professional go through your home to be sure your investment is as safe as possible during the winter. Arrange for snow removal as needed, and ask someone you trust to regularly check your home. Also, check with your insurance agent on coverage for a vacant home. You may be surprised to find the coverage is more limited than you expect. Put precautions in where you can. Some of these ideas apply even if you are just heading out for a winter vacation.