It's getting to be that time of year, so before the temperatures drop any further, we have put together a checklist for winterizing your New England Home.
Outside Winterization Projects
1. Get Rid of Leaves
To begin winterizing your New England home, get rid of the leaves on the property. This doesn’t just mean the yard. Clearing the leaves from the roof is important too as it prevents the gutters from clogging and freezing. Damp leaves can deteriorate the roof and cause leaks in the spring. To get the leaves off the roof, climb up a ladder and use a leaf blower. If the leaves are too damp and stuck to the roof, use a hose to wash the leaves off. While cleaning off the roof, it is also important to clean out the gutters.
Be sure to bring tools, sprinklers, ornaments, and furniture inside during the winter months. The cold and snow will cause rust and external damage to furniture and outdoor tools. To prevent having to buy new furniture every year, put it in the garage! (unless you want an excuse to buy new lawn furniture next spring) Garage already a little crowded?
3. Prepare Lawn Mower for Winter
This is an important one. Lawn mowers cost thousands of dollars, and are easily damaged by the cold of winter. Protect your lawn mower by following these simple steps.
Clean out the deck
The blades should be cleaned of grass and moisture before being put away for winter. Moisture on the lawn mower blades and undercarriage causes rust and corrosion. Use a hose to wash off the clippings or use a paint scraper to get the dried grass off the blade. Place moth ball near the deck to avoid mice making a home in there over winter.
If you keep the lawn mower inside of winter, fill the tank with gas and add a fuel stabilizer. Fuel stabilizer can be purchased at any hardware store and is an easy solution to avoid paying $100 for an engine cleaning. After the stabilizer has been added, run the engine for a few minutes to allow the stabilized fuel to work its way through the carburetor.
4. Winterize Hoses and Irrigation Systems
Leaving water in hoses and irrigation systems can cause the pipes to burst. Be sure to turn off the water manually and drain irrigation systems before the first freeze. This type of preparation may require the help of a professional. The whole process usually costs anywhere from $50 to $150.
Inside Winterization Projects
5. Insulate Windows
In winter, the utility bill goes up due to the heat getting turned on. Drafty windows let heat escape, making this cost even steeper. Insulating the windows is a great way to decrease the monthly electric/gas bill while keeping the house warm for winter. There are several ways that the windows can be prepared for winter.
· Rubber weather sealing
· Cellular shades
· Insulation window shields
· Thick curtains
· Draft snakes
All of these methods have their pros and cons. Draft snakes are an easy DIY project, but only insulate the window sill. Window sealing is cheap and effective, but may leave marks when peeled off for spring. The method chosen to insulate the windows is often decided by budget and difficulty level.
6. Clean and Repair Fireplace
Chimneys contribute to 42% of home-heating fires. This is because many people aren’t aware of the routine maintenance that needs to be done on the chimney for winter. Here’s a quick task list.
- Hire a chimney sweep to clean the chimney
- Check for damage
- Cover chimney with screen
- Clean the base of the fireplace
Also a few safety tips:
- Don’t overload the fireplace
- Only use seasoned hardwoods
- Use a spark guard
- Know how to build the fire correctly
- Keep flammable items away from the flame
7. Plan a Furnace Tune-up
Why should you plan an annual furnace tune-up? Aside from increasing the efficiency of the furnace, an annual tune-up is useful because it:
- Saves money on heating bills
- Saves the furnace warranty (most warranties require annual tune-ups)
- Ensures that the furnace will operate safely
- Reduce the chance of the heat going out
- Prevent long-term damage from neglect
8. Replace Air Filter and Clean Humidifier
Are you turning on the humidifier for the winter to avoid air dryness? Change the wick on the humidifier every few months to keep it working properly and be sure to clean the inside of the humidifier every few weeks to avoid mold and bacteria growing in it. Change the filter as well if the humidifier has one. Humidifiers that aren’t properly cared for cause too much moisture in the home, which can lead to mildew, mold, and damage to the walls.