9 Homeowner Tasks to Prepare for Winter

Time is a wheel and it turns us around and around, like a ride at the amusement park, or in some cases for those with winter-phobia, a torture device. Summer has dwindled. Autumn has tiptoed in and taken its place. That is, if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere that experiences all four seasons.

Yes, lucky, though the bad news is that even gorgeous autumns can’t last forever, and now you’re looking at your yard and your house, wondering how it’s all come to this: winter is coming. 

Again.

This inescapable cycle spawns yet another inescapable fact: it is time. Time to do all the Things for Winter. 

We know you—you weren’t the grasshopper who played her (or his) fiddle all summer—you’re ready for this! And we’re right there with you, making lists and prepping for the future. So, keep reading to get our hot hits for how to ready your house for the brutally cold season before the endless nights and storms set in too deep. 

Install weather stripping. Doors and windows are the weakest points in your home for heat loss. If you haven’t done it already, now is a great time to install door sweeps on the bottom of outside-leading doors and put weather stripping in sashes and cracks around doors (e.g., along the jamb) to provide tighter seals. 

Caulk around windows. As a home ages, flexing and contracting materials during various hot and cold periods create gaps around windows. Fill in any openings that have developed to prevent heat escaping. 

Chimney balloon. What the what? That’s what we said when we first heard about a chimney balloon. This very steampunk-sounding device can’t be real, can it? Yes! It’s real and no it doesn’t lead to Diagon Alley or Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Harry Potter references aside, a chimney balloon is a device for homeowners who aren’t using their fireplace and therefore the chimney. This handy object is meant to seal off the drafty chimney and keep your house cozy and hygge, rather than drafty and frigid. So if you’re not burning wood or coal to stay warm, try one out.

Flush sediment in water heater. This one doesn’t necessarily have a major impact on energy loss, but it can affect the efficiency of your water heater as well as clog the drain valve. Additionally, sediment can displace water as it collects at the bottom of a water heater. Prevent this becoming a problem and causing further untimely issues by taking a moment to flush it out. 

Change air filters. Like with the water heater, prevention is a good way to keep those expensive systems in top condition. You can encourage healthy air circulating throughout your home by changing the air filters so that air can easily pass through them. We’ve heard horror stories about HVAC systems being ruined by extremely clogged air filters. But that won’t be you, because you’re here, getting a handle on this homeownership business. 

Change batteries in fire alarms and test them. According to the National Fire Protection Association, from 2012 to 2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 355,400 home structure fires per year. No one wants to get caught unaware, and this period of seasonal change is a great way to keep up with the easy-to-overlook details. So, while you’re swapping air filters, flushing sediment, and being a responsible adult, why not tackle this one too? 

Clean out rain gutters. Water is ideal for a cooling swim, hydrating, making coffee, and so much more. But it’s not ideal in your walls or dripping into your attic. So, check your rain gutters and clean out any built up detritus so that water can flow away from the walls of your home. Water flowing away from your house. That’s a beautiful sight. 

Heavier drapes. Curtains used to be more than a way to block out light or maintain privacy—they were meant to keep out the cold during the winter. Bring the past back! Switching out your light summer drapes and hanging curtains with better insulation properties can help staunch all that heat loss.

Bring in or cover your outside stuff. And while you’re doing that to the garden tools, pack up the patio furniture and stash it in the garage. If storage space is hard to come by, grab a tarp or waterproof canvas and drape it over the furniture in a sheltered spot in the yard. Meanwhile, drain the garden hose and store that as well.

A list like this could go on forever. We’ve heard it said the housework expands to fit how much time you have. Which means, infinite housework and yard work. But does anyone want that? These things are like masterpieces: they’re never truly finished. So, at some point, we encourage you to stop and say, “That was a job well done,” grab a salted-caramel mocha coffee beverage from the local cafe, and relax in front of the fire, so long as there’s not a chimney balloon in there. 

  

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