Is your home ready for Winter?
After having one of the hottest summers on record AGAIN here in Parker County and DFW, surely everyone is welcoming the cooler weather that has arrived. But once again, it won’t be long before even cooler temps arrive. Hopefully we aren’t in for another Snowmageddon like in 2021. Only time will tell.
Winter is Coming
And while temperatures are still pleasant, this is a perfect time to prepare your home for the coming winter. Doing these things can save you on energy bills, help keep you comfortable when the weather does turn cold, and can save you money in expensive repairs that can become necessary after bad weather comes.
Protect your indoor pipes
Any water pipes in your house that are on an exterior wall, or in an uninsulated garage or utility closet can be impacted by the cooler weather. Exposed hot water pipes waste heat by cooling off the water running through them. Add pipe insulation to the hot and cold lines to save energy on these now, as well as to protect against freezing temperatures later. The same applies to any pipes running through a crawl space under the house.
Cover outdoor faucets
Just like your indoor water pipes need protection, your outdoor pipes and faucets need it more. Every year when the first freeze hits, people scramble to their nearest home improvement store to get faucet covers only to find out they are out of stock. Don’t wait! Pick up new covers now. Already have some? Make sure you know where they are and have not dry rotted or broken since last year.
Locate your water shutoff valve and know how to turn it off
In the event it gets so cold your pipes freeze, be prepared to turn off the water to your entire house. Make sure you know where your water shutoff valve is located and make sure you know how it works. If it hasn’t been turned off in a long time, go ahead and make sure the valve is in good working condition by turning the handle off and on. While it is possible to turn your water off with pliers or an adjustable wrench, it could be a good idea to get a water meter key. These make it much easier to turn the water off and on, and cost about $10-$20 depending on the model.
Insulate your attic or crawl space
How much insulation do you have in your attic? And how much should you have? And how about your crawl space? Is it insulated? Is the insulation in good shape? In north Texas, Energy Star guidelines suggest insulation of R-30 to R-60 in the attic and R-19 to R-25 under the floor. This equates to about 8″-11″ of blown or batt insulation for R-30 in the attic (16″-22″ for R-60), and 6″-8″ of batt insulation for the crawl space to achieve R-19 to R25. For some additional information from EnergyStar.gov on proper insulation and air sealing, click here.
Repair loose shingles and clean off the roof.
Do a thorough overlook of your roof (or hire a trusted, qualified roofing professional, so you don’t have to climb up there) and look for any loose shingles or flashings. A loose shingle now can turn into several loose or missing shingles with moderate wind. Add in rain, sleet or snow, and now you have the recipe for a roof leak that can cause interior damage. And leaves left on the roof can create dams that cause water to back up under shingles. These can lead to leaks, as well as be an invitation for bugs and critters to go exploring under the roofing.
Clean and inspect gutters
Once the leaves have fallen, be sure to get any gutters cleaned out as well. Leaving these leaves will impede water flow, which adds extra weight to the gutters, causing them to sag or tear off the roof. Add some ice to this and it really becomes a big mess.
Cut back tree limbs
A good rule of thumb is to keep any tree limbs cut back at least 4′ from your house. Closer than this and they can sag under snow or blow with the wind until they contact the house and cause damage.
Re-caulk windows, doors and wood trim
If the caulk around your house is cracking, chipping or flaking away, it is time to recaulk. This will not only help with air infiltration but also will preserve your wood and paint longer. And keep in mind that caulk is one of those things that you get what you pay for. Skip over the $4 painter’s caulk and go with the caulks intended for exterior sealing.
Check door and window weatherstripping
Are you losing a lot of heat around your doors and windows? Inspect the weatherstripping to make sure it’s still in good condition. Take a look under and around doors for any gaps that you can see daylight through. Windows can be a little trickier to weatherproof. In a pinch, cover them with plastic to make them temporarily weathertight.
Have your chimney and furnace inspected; check your space heaters
Have a reputable HVAC company do an inspection on your heating system. This can head off some expensive future repairs and keep your system running at peak performance. Also, have a chimney sweep come out to clean and inspect your chimney, making sure there aren’t any blockages or hazards that could create a fire or fill your house with smoke. And do you have space heaters? Take a look at these tips.
Check your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
Check to make sure your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are working properly and have good batteries. Homes should have a smoke detector in each bedroom plus each hallway outside the bedrooms and on every level of the house. And smoke detectors should be located at or near the highest point in the room. Carbon monoxide detectors should be near every bedroom, on every floor, near attached garages, and near (but not too close to) any gas or fuel burning appliance such as a water heater, stove, oven, space heater or furnace.
Check insurance coverages
Now is as good a time as any to check the coverages on your home. Are you insured against a severe storm with long power outages like we experienced in 2021? During that storm, many homeowners found out the hard way they didn’t have proper insurance coverage. Ask your agent a lot of questions to understand what is and isn’t covered so you can make any adjustments needed. Are you covered for frozen and broken pipes? Ice damage to the roof? Fence or shed damage? Spoiled food? Swimming pool equipment? Hotel stays during any necessary repair? How much is your deductible? Do you have full replacement coverage? Do you have a roof payment schedule on your policy?
Drain lawn mowers & other small engine gas or add fuel stabilizer
Now that the bulk of yard maintenance is coming to an end for the year, don’t just stick the mower back in the shed. Drain the gas from the tank and carburetor or add a fuel stabilizer to preserve your lawn equipment through the winter. Today’s gasoline with ethanol added to it really can cause problems when it sits in an engine for a long period of time.
Drain your lawn sprinklers
Have an irrigation company come out and shut down your sprinkler system and blow the water out of your sprinkler pipes for the winter to prevent frozen and cracked pipes.
Trim perennials and mulch flower beds
Some perennials like peonies and daylilies need to be pruned in the fall to avoid winter damage. And applying mulch after the first hard freeze can aid in maintaining soil temperatures to help prevent plant growth during a warm spell.
Winterize your swimming pool
Properly winterizing your swimming pool will help make sure your pool is in great shape when it’s time to use it again in the spring. Take our all the pool accessories, give it a good thorough cleaning, adjust your water chemistry, lower the water level if needed, drain/disconnect/store your equipment, add shock and algaecide, and install your cover.
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