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How to winterize your home 

Winterize your home now  - while you can still walk on your roofing without slipping on ice.

The few hours spent surveying your home and making minor repairs now could save you a bundle on expensive and inconvenient emergency repairs later.

Preparing your home for the chilly days and nights ahead will make it more comfortable and energy efficient in the days ahead.

Here's how to winterize your home. Let's start at the top.

Winterizing Your  Roof

A roof that is clear of debris and intact is essential to the well-being of your home and everything in it. If your roof is flat enough to walk on safely, you can perform a roof inspection yourself with a broom.

Don't wait until the first storm to make sure that your roof gutters are clear of debris and that all roofing materials and flashing (those metal seams along the edges) are intact.

Using a broom, a lightweight leaf blower, or a hose with a spray attachment, remove leaves and dirt from the rooftop.

Next, use your (gloved) hands and a small brush to remove debris from gutters and downspouts.

When all the visible debris is removed, pour water through the gutters and spouts to make sure they drain freely. 

Check the flashing around chimneys, vents, skylights, or parapet walls. Look for gaps, cracks, and missing shingles.

If you discover any problems with your roofing system or notice any rain leaking into the house, be sure to call and arrange for a roofing repair now - before any issues become expensive repair emergencies.

Check for Fireplace or Chimney Problems

Next, check for fireplace or chimney problems. Newer fireplaces and stoves are better than traditional open hearths at controlling airflow and thus providing heat and warm air efficiently. 

But whatever the age of your fireplace or stove, professional chimney inspection and cleaning each year is a must to keep soot and creosote from building up and leading to a chimney fire. 

While you'll want to have expert chimney services handle the major maintenance, you can undertake minor maintenance yourself.

If you burn wood, clean the stove or firebox between fires. Scoop up cold ashes and place them in a metal container. Close the flue or air intake after each use to keep the warm air from escaping up the chimney.

Winterize Your Home Heating System

On a cold night, your heating system is the last thing you want to have broken down. 

Not only could such a mishap be uncomfortable and expensive, but it could also be dangerous: A faulty gas or oil furnace may emit deadly carbon monoxide gas.

A fall tune-up for your furnace will prolong its life and keep your family safe while your home is closed up against the chill outdoors. 

Furnaces that are less than ten years old should be serviced every 3 to 5 years. You'll need a professional to check for leaks and to test the safety controls.

Even well-maintained residential heating and cooling systems can emit toxic carbon monoxide (which is both odorless and colorless), making carbon monoxide detectors essential.Test detectors monthly, and replace the batteries once a year.

Check for Leaks and Mildew

Spot check your home's exterior and interior. If you see any cracks in masonry or stucco, between siding and window or door frames, or in corners, seal them with caulk to keep air and water out of your walls.

Check your home's exterior for leaks and mildew.At least twice a year, use a bleach solution to scrub clean any mildewed areas of your home's exterior.

At least twice a year, use a bleach solution to scrub clean any mildewed areas of your home's exterior.

If unattended to, mildew will eat away at exterior paint, resulting in an expensive "fix-up" later. 

As needed, sweep up and remove any debris from outdoor walkways and steps. If you notice any algae or other growths, scrub them off with a hard-bristled brush and bleach.

Pedestrian surfaces covered with algae, moss, or other substances can be slippery and dangerous when wet. 

Winterizing Doors and Windows

In many homes during cold weather, warm indoor air escapes outside through numerous little holes and gaps surrounding pipes and vents; along seams between walls and floors; and between masonry and siding materials.

Wind gusts can also force cold air through these openings and into your house, raising your heating bill.

As your house ages and settles, or expands and contracts from changes in temperature or humidity,  these gaps can open and admit moisture into your walls.

If you see the light around your doors and windows from inside or feel a draft, it' time to seal with weather stripping or caulk to save money on utility bills. 

Weather stripping - a narrow piece of metal, vinyl, rubber, felt, or foam that seals the space between the door and the frame - can be installed on the interior to winterize your windows and doors.

Experts recommend weather stripping the entire perimeter of exterior doors: Affix one continuous strip along the top and sides and attach a floor "sweep" to the inside bottom of the door. 

OK, so get out your winterization checklist and get started.

As an incentive, picture this lovely holiday scene: The guests are arriving, the heater is on the blink, the roof is leaking, and the chimney catches fire.

This is no time to be a Scrooge. 

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› How to Winterize Your Home


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