Living in the majestic Northwest truly makes us feel fortunate. It’s a region with incredible geography, and we enjoy the best of all seasons – especially wintertime. It’s indeed a wonderland here in North Idaho, whether you’re all in for skiing, snowboarding, or snowmobiling, or if you simply like to appreciate the scenery from the coziness of home with your feet up, and your coffee filled up. Yet along with the wintry weather you enjoy, it’s also weather that you should prepare for, particularly when it comes to taking care of your house. One must take winterizing their home seriously, as it will help avoid issues caused by the cold, snow and ice, and ensure comfortable living throughout the season.
Here are some essential winterization steps to take before winter sets in:
- Service your heating system
Nobody wants their heating system conking out in the middle of a Northwest winter. Make sure to get your furnace or heat pump inspected so it’s clean and in good condition. An important aspect of a professional inspection is that it can also measure carbon monoxide leakage. Additionally, check your furnace filters on a monthly basis, and regularly vacuum out the floor grates.
- Get your fireplace cleaned and chimney swept
Before you enjoy the glow of a crackling fire, make sure your fireplace, chimney and vents are clean and in good repair. This will prevent chimney fires and prevent carbon monoxide from seeping into the house.
- Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
When your heat is on, putting your ceiling fan in reverse mode – clockwise direction – will create an updraft and push heated air down into the room from the ceiling. This is very effective in areas with high ceilings, and can possibly enable you to turn down the thermostat a degree or two. Doing so can save you on energy costs throughout the winter.
- Make Your Roof Right
Assess your roof – in a safe manner – for damaged, loose or missing shingles that may leak during a winter storm from melting snow. It’s also crucial to check and repair breaks in the flashing seals around vent stacks and chimneys, as well.
- Consider More Caulking
This is an ideal time to check the gaps between siding and window or door frames. If they are bigger than the width of a nickel, you need to reapply exterior caulk. We recommend using silicone caulk as it won’t shrink or be weathered by the cold, snow, or ice.
- Clean the Gutters
Gutters can turn out to be the major culprit of causing damage. If they are full of debris, water can back up against the house and damage roofing, siding and wood trim, or cause leaks and ice dams. It’s essential to identify missing or damaged gutters and repair or replace them.
- Disconnect Hoses and Turn Off Exterior Faucets
Here’s an easy one. Disconnect all garden hoses and drain the water that remains in faucets, as remaining water in pipes can freeze, which will cause pipes to burst as the ice expands. If your house doesn’t have frost-proof faucets, turn off the shut-off valve inside your home.
- Blow Out Your Lawn Irrigation System
Blow out sprinkler-system pipes will help avoid freezing and leaks.
- Check Your Sump Pump
Testing to see if stuff works – especially important systems – is always a good idea. To test your sump pump, slowly pour several gallons of water into the sump pit to see whether the pump turns on.
- Get Down and Dirty
Most likely you don’t often visit your crawl space, but the perfect time to do so is in January. This is where moisture and drainage problems can cause the most damage – and as the summer is often so dry in the Northwest, standing water typically doesn’t show up until January, when the soil has been fully re-saturated. In the case that you notice standing water, determine if it’s coming from pipes inside the house or from water flowing in through cracks in the foundation.
- Prune Your Trees
You want to keep your trees away from the house. Contact with trees is bad for roofs and siding, as friction and trapped moisture wreak havoc on building materials. Do the majority of your pruning in the winter, when trees are dormant.
- Close Garage Doors
Of course, your garage is typically the coldest space of your house – odds are you don’t keep it heated. When the garage shares ceilings and walls with adjacent rooms, if you forget to close those garage doors, pipes located in the garage ceiling may freeze. Make sure the kids stay on top of this, too!
Putting in some extra work now can potentially save you some challenging and costly work a few months down the road. By taking these precautionary winterizing steps you’ll enjoy greater peace of mind, and be able to focus on enjoying all the fun that comes with a Northwest winter.