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7 Hot Tips to Get Your Home Winter-Ready

Winter is coming…and very soon to Wisconsin. We love our seasons, but they can be tough on our homes and yards. Being prepared helps (cue the Boy Scouts). Whether or not you are selling your home or getting ready to spend even longer hours in it, there are several things you can do now to prepare your home for the winter ahead. My tips will help you ensure you and your home have a smooth and safe winter season, and they should reduce your concerns during the cold winter months.

  1. HEATING SYSTEM TUNE-UP: Heating system maintenance may be the most important thing you do all fall. It’s critical to keep the heat coming, and it’s so stressful when systems fail in the cold winter months. Some homeowners choose to conduct tune-ups themselves (there are many good online tutorials), however, there are good professional HVAC companies in our area who perform these services regularly.  And if you’re seeing any irregularities with your system (irregular flames, short-cycling or lots of soot), be sure to call a professional.

  2. GARAGE CLEAN-OUT: Perhaps one of the most overlooked and essential cleaning tasks for fall is cleaning the garage. Store bikes and toys, wash out all the garbage cans, properly dispose of any gasoline or oil, and consider getting a garage-organizing system like GarageTek and epoxying your garage floor – at minimum sweep it well removing any debris. Outdoor mats in and outside the garage will help prevent slipping and water intrusion into your home. Go one step further and not only clean your garage, but get your car ready as well with floor and trunk mats (I like the WeatherTech brand) to protect the inside of your car from all the ice, snow, and salt. And very importantly, remember to stash a snow scraper and brush in your car…do it now.

  3. LIGHTING INSPECTION and SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM INSTALLATION: Make sure all your outdoor lighting is working properly. The North Shore Police Department has issued recommendations to homeowners on how they can reduce their risk of home invasions, and outdoor lighting tops their list. It is so much easier to check and fix your lighting when the temperature is 60as opposed to -6o. Go out this weekend and make sure all the lightbulbs have been recently changed, replace any burned out bulbs and adjust your lighting settings for daylight savings. Have back-up bulbs on hand to avoid having to hunt for them in the harsh weather. If you don’t have lighting on all sides of your home, add it. Also, consider adding a home surveillance system. There are so many affordable options today, and these not only help keep your home and family safer but can put your mind at ease. Ring and Nest are popular, as well as monitoring systems like the ones offered by ADT and SimpliSafe.  And remember that simply being visible can reduce your risk of a home invasion.

  4. GUTTER CLEANING: Clean the gutters! I know it’s a messy job, but it’s worth it. Most water intrusion in the fall months is due to the gutters being filled with leaves and debris. In home inspections, clogged gutters are the most cited problem of water intrusion. Once those gutters freeze with debris, it is too late, and clogged gutters can lead to BIG winter issues for your home. Clogged gutters spill water down the front of the gutter next to the foundation of your home and can lead to repeated water intrusion through the winter. This promotes mold growth, split gutters, and bigger issues that could have been avoided with a simple cleaning. And if you shy away from ladders, hire someone for this task. It’s well worth it.

  5. PATIO FURNITURE CLEANING: Clean your patio furniture including umbrellas to extend their life by avoiding stains, rot, mold, mildew, etc. Wipe down (use mild soap or what your manufacturer recommends to clean it; don’t use water only) the furniture, wash the umbrellas and cushions, let them dry thoroughly, and store them in a dry setting. If you cannot store your patio furniture inside, invest in my favorite patio covers for your furniture. Covermates (from Coverstore) come in many size and shape options or can be custom ordered for every piece of furniture you have including fire pits., They are durable, look great, and survive harsh Wisconsin winters with ease. For detailed cleaning instructions for outdoor furniture, check out this great post: https://decorinteriorsus.com/blog/in-depth-articles/patio-furniture-cleaning-care-guide/

  6. PLANTER AND POT CARE: Empty your outdoor planters and pots. This is more important than it seems. Pots and planters that are not emptied of their dirt will crack and chip in the winter. One of the most unsightly outdoor looks is summer plantings frozen on the front porch in December. Take the time to properly care for and dispose of summer plants. It will be very difficult to save your favorite front porch planters if you do not properly care for them. Remove the plant, empty the dirt, wash out the inside, let it dry thoroughly, and consider getting seasonal plantings for the holidays from one of the local garden shops or Sendik’s Food Market. My favorite seasonal plantings are from Sendik’s. Their ready-to-go winter plantings are fresh and last the entire season with no planting required. Their sturdy planters fit inside most decorative pots and help create a welcoming entry.

  7. CHIMNEY INSPECTION and FIREWOOD STOCKING: This one is for all the natural-wood fireplace owners and enthusiasts. Have your firebox evaluated every wood-burning season to make sure it is safe to burn a fire in your fireplace, and get it done in October before the chimney cleaning services get super busy. Once the firebox checks out, make sure you have enough wood for the winter. A face cord (4 feet high, 8 feet wide and one 12-36-inch log deep) is generally enough for most people, however, if you like a lot of fires or have a fire pit, you may want to consider a full cord. Also, consider investing in a firewood rack instead of stacking the wood against the house. Firewood stacked along the garage or side of the house without the benefit of a carrier damages and stains siding, attracts rodents, and can lead to moisture problems. Moisture is not great for burning fires and especially not helpful to the side of your home. It can also stain brick exteriors and stimulate mold growth.

Harsh Wisconsin winters are no fun if you are not prepared. Protect your home investment by keeping it and your family safe from water, fire, and home intrusion.  And if you’re considering selling and want to talk about what you should consider doing to prepare your specific home to get it ready for the spring market, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. Hope to see you around this winter!

 

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