Home Guru

Gearing Up the Home for the Winter Months

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By Bill Primavera

Now that I live in a maintenance-free condo, all I have to do to transition from the summer and fall months to winter is switch the HVAC from air conditioning to heat. It’s as simple as that, save to bundle up with warmer clothing when I step outside.

But when I was the owner of a single-family house, it was a much more involved process. I learned that it was best to give my home a once-over and tend to winter preparation tasks and repairs before the year’s first frost.   

Getting the exterior of a home ready for the cold winds, snow and ice is critical for keeping winter out and keeping it warm inside. By being proactive, one can lower a home’s energy bills, increase the efficiency and lifespan of all components and make the property safer. 

Frequency I have referred to Bob Vila, TV’s famous home expert, for home maintenance details and I defer below to his expertise in preparing one’s home for winter.

Windows and Doors

  • Check weatherstripping around windows and doorframes for leaks to prevent heat loss. Replace weatherstripping, if necessary.
  • Replace all screen doors with storm windows.
  • Replace all window screens with storm windows. (This step and the one above were always the biggest chores of the year.)
  • Check window frames for signs of rot or decay. Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity.
  • Check for drafts around windows and doors. Caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping.
  • Inspect windows for cracks, broken glass or gaps. Repair or replace, if needed.

Lawn, Garden and Deck

  • Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires to prevent iced-over or wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem.
  • Aerate the lawn, reseed and apply a winterizing fertilizer to promote deep-root growth come spring. (After a few years of this practice, I engaged a trusty lawn service to do the job, which is formidable.)
  • Ensure rain or snow drains away from the house to avoid damage to the foundation. The dirt grade – around the exterior of your home – should slope away from the house. Add extra dirt to low areas as necessary.
  • Clean and dry patio furniture. In my case, I stored it inside my garage to protect it from the elements.
  • Clean soil from planters. Bring pots made of clay or other fragile materials indoors. (I laugh as I write this because I remember that when I would bring in a big planter from my patio to the dining room, my cat, Mitsey, assumed that it was meant for her as an alternate litter box.)
  • Dig up flower bulbs, brush off soil and label. Store bulbs in a bag or box with peat moss in a cool, dry place for spring replanting. (After a few years of toiling to do this, I just left them where they were in the ground and found that I lost very few of them. Why bother?)
  • Remove any attached hoses and store them for the winter to prevent cracks, preserve their shape and prolong their life. Wrap outside faucets with covers to prevent water damage. (How well I remember the house I had listed for sale where the owner forgot to detach his hose, only to have an interior water pipe burst through expansion and ruin an entire family room of the house.)

That about covers it. After all this is done, you as a homeowner will be justified in hibernating like a bear from household chores for the winter.

Bill Primavera, while a publicist and journalist, is also a realtor associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. (www.PrimaveraPR.com). To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.

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