Home Winterizing Tips From A General Contractor – Forbes Advisor

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There is a seemingly endless supply of articles and tips for wintering your home available online. Every topic and situation is covered from any angle. A common theme to many of them is wintering for a vacant position while snowbirding in a warmer climate for the duration. What about us? What are the most important things to think about? We asked our expert for advice on winterizing a house for those of us who are considering using our house as a shelter this winter. Here is what he had to say.

Q: What happens in the wintering of your house?

A: The list gets very long depending on its level of detail. I like to keep it simple and as inexpensive as possible. This is my current cut and paste list that I use every year for my home. I added some notes and changed some words for clarity.

  • Change batteries and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Have the furnace (or boiler) inspected and maintained
  • Change the furnace filter
  • Clean the gutters: this to avoid ice dams that can cause leaks on the roof
  • Prune trees if necessary: ​​To prevent tree branches from falling on the roof during a heavy snowfall
  • Turn off the water at the outdoor taps
  • Cover exterior faucets: I use polystyrene type insulating covers to prevent freezing and condensation
  • Check all door and window weatherstripping for damage: replace any damaged weatherstripping
  • Check and repair any worn or damaged weatherstripping caulking
  • Install insulating plastic on windows
  • Move all boxes to the center of the attic: This is to ensure that the attic ventilation is working properly
  • Place marker stakes at the end of driveway and sidewalks: So I can find my walks and driveway when shoveling snow.
  • Put a shovel near the back door: To quickly clear a path after a snowfall

This is my list. You may need to do some or all of the above. There are a few other common things that you may need to take care of depending on the amenities in your home. They can include the following.

  • Blow the lawn sprinkler system to remove water from the pipes
  • Store or protect outdoor patio furniture
  • Wrap or protect delicate shrubs or gardens
  • Cover or remove window mounted air conditioners

If you are the new owner of a home, especially an older home, I recommend that you get an energy audit done. Most energy providers offer them for free with no obligation to their customers. Following the audit recommendations will make your annual wintering efforts even more effective.

Q: When should you winter your house?

A: Winterizing your home should be done before the first deep frost of the season. Usually this means from early to mid-October. As soon as I see the first Halloween decorations popping up in my neighborhood, I know it’s time to get to work.

Q: How much does it cost to winterize your house?

A: Winterizing costs are highly dependent on what you do yourself and how much you rent. Doing it yourself only requires the cost of materials and any necessary service on your furnace or boiler. Batteries, furnace filters, plastic and caulking can be purchased for $ 50 to $ 100 each year.

Professional furnace or boiler inspections and cleaning are often included in the price of service contracts purchased from your local energy supplier. Prepare for around $ 200 to $ 300 for inspection and tune-up if you don’t have a contract.

Hiring a professional service to clean the gutters or perform annual irrigation services will cost at least around $ 150 for each.

Q: What do people do wrong when it comes to winterizing their homes?

A: Assuming that all is well for this winter because nothing bad happened last year is the most common mistake I see happening. Many people believe that the savings later from winterizing, again this fall, will not be enough to justify the money and effort made today. Eventually, something bad that could have been avoided will go wrong.

Q: Is there an ideal temperature that you should winterize your home at?

A: Homes today are built to be energy efficient. The 65 degrees Fahrenheit rule of years ago has become more lenient. Today, 68 degrees is considered energy efficient for an occupied home. However, everyone has different comfort needs. If you like to be warmer, consider installing a programmable thermostat that automatically lowers the heat when you’re not around.

If you leave your home unoccupied for more than a few days in a row, setting your thermostat to 55 degrees while you are away will save energy and prevent freezing.

Q: What, if any, common wintering steps could be skipped? Which steps are the most crucial?

A: Newer windows are designed to be very energy efficient. If your home has one, chances are you can avoid applying plastic wrap to it every year. Energy savings are minimal for new windows.

A lack of trees on or near your property means you probably won’t have to clean your gutters every year.

The most critical step to take before winter is to replace the batteries and test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Everything else we talk about today can be fixed after a catastrophic event. This is often not the case if a dead battery renders an alarm inoperable and your safety is sacrificed.

Beyond that, it is important to have your furnace or boiler inspected and maintained. Other problems are solved more easily if the heater is still on.

Q: What could happen if you don’t winterize your house?

A: Winterizing your home is insurance against costly repairs. Hiring a contractor can be expensive. They get much more expensive if you have to call them for an emergency in the middle of the night, during a snowstorm. Having to make quick decisions during a stressful situation may not be an effective money management system.

Beyond financial reasons, an owner can risk the general safety of their family by not wintering every year.

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