Preparing Your Home For Winter

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It’s that time again! Winter is coming quickly, and here in Kenai and Soldotna we deal with some pretty harsh weather. It’s very smart to prepare for these winter conditions so you don’t face any challenges with your home. Here are 10 tips to help you winterize your home!

1) Get a Furnace Inspection– Call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and clean ducts. Stock up on your furnace filters and change them monthly. You might also want to consider switching out your thermostat for a programmable thermostat. If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly and when water appears, close them. You should remove all flammable material from the area surrounding your furnace.

2)Get the Fireplace Ready– Cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds. If the chimney hasn’t been cleaned for a while, call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote. Buy or chop your firewood. Store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home. Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing. Also, check the mortar between bricks and tuck point, if necessary.

3)Check the Exterior, Doors and Windows– Inspect exterior for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes; seal them if necessary. Use weather stripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering your home and caulk windows. Replace cracked glass in windows and, if you end up replacing the entire window, prime and paint exposed wood. If your home has a basement, consider protecting its window wells by covering them with plastic shields. Switch out summer screens with glass replacements from storage. If you have storm windows, install them.

4)Inspect Roof, Gutters, and Downspouts– Our weather temperature will more than always fall below 32 degrees in the winter, so adding extra insulation to the attic will prevent warm air from creeping to your roof and causing ice dams. Check flashing to ensure water cannot enter the home. Replace worn roof shingles or tiles. Clean out the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away debris. Consider installing leaf guards on the gutters or extensions on the downspouts to direct water away from your home.

5)Service Weather-Specific Equipment– Drain your gas from your lawnmowers. Service or tune-up your snow blowers. Replace worn rakes and snow shovels. Clean, dry and store summer gardening equipment. Sharpen ice choppers and buy bags of ice-melt / sand.

6)Check Foundations– Rake away all debris and edible vegetation from the foundation. Seal up entry points to keep small animals from crawling under the house. Tuck point or seal foundation cracks because mice can slip through space as thin as a dime. Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation. Also, secure your crawlspace entrances.

7)Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors– Some cities require a smoke detector in every room. Make sure to buy extra smoke detector batteries and change them when daylight savings ends. Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and / or water heater. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly to make sure they work. Buy a fire extinguisher or replace an extinguisher older than 10 years.

8)Prevent Plumbing Freezes– Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency. Drain all garden hoses. Insulate exposed plumbing pipes. Drain air conditioner pipes and, if your AC has a water shut-off valve, turn it off. If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, set to at least 55 degrees.

9)Prepare Landscaping and Outdoor Surfaces– If your tree branches hang too close to the house or electrical wires make sure to trim them. Ask a gardener when your trees should be pruned to prevent winter injury. Plant spring flower bulbs and lift bulbs that cannot winter over in areas where the ground freezes. Seal driveways, brick patios and wood decks. Don’t automatically remove dead vegetation from gardens as some provide attractive scenery in an otherwise dreary, snow-drenched yard. Move sensitive potted plants indoors or to a sheltered area.

10)Prepare an Emergency Kit– Buy indoor candles and matches / lighter for use during a power shortage. Find the phone numbers for your utility companies and tape them near your phone or inside the phone book. Buy a battery back-up to protect your computer and sensitive electronic equipment. Store extra bottled water and non-perishable food supplies (including pet food, if you have a pet), blankets and a first-aid kit in a dry and easy-to-access location. Prepare an evacuation plan in the event of an emergency.

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