Image courtesy of Key Group.
Autumn is officially here, as the ubiquitous sound of leaf blowers and incessant scent of pumpkin spice (detectable even through your hospital-quality N95) will attest. It all means cold weather is fast approaching and it’s time to properly prepare your home for winter. For pointers on how to ensure a house’s integrity throughout the most demanding season, we asked advice from a trio of experts who know a thing or two about winter weather: Scott Bayens, realtor at Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty in Aspen, Colorado; Kelly Kontz, realtor and owner of Key Group in Omaha, Nebraska; and Christopher Lydon, co-owner of James Lydon Sons & Daughters, a roofing-and-siding company in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Here they share their top tips to keep your abode in fine form throughout the months ahead—seasonal latte entirely optional.
Clean and repair gutters. Once your trees are bare, it’s time to properly clear them of leaves, pine needles, and other debris, Kontz shares. “When water can’t flow freely through your gutter and downspout system you run the risk of ice dams once the weather gets cold,” Lydon says. Now is also a good time to install gutter guards, Kontz advises, making next year’s clean up a breeze.
Check drainage around your home. After addressing your gutters, turn your attention to your home’s drainage, Bayens says, especially if you live in a snowy climate. Make sure there’s piping from gutters that directs water away from your house and there aren’t areas where water could roll backward toward your home. “The last thing you want is negative drainage,” he says, “as it impacts the foundation and siding.”
Assess your roof’s health. “If you’re starting to notice a missing shingle here or there, or roof debris in your yard, it’s a good idea to have your roofer come take a look,” Lydon shares. A professional can tell you if you have issues that need addressing immediately. Winter storm season can quickly turn some minor roof damage into a bigger problem.
Be mindful of low hanging branches. Walk around your home, looking for tree branches or other landscaping that may rub against or hang over your roof. Strong winter winds and heavy snow-laden branches could cause branches to break, causing damage to your roof and the exterior of your home, Lydon advises. It’s a good idea to get a tree expert out to ensure your home is free from any potential damage.
Turn off exterior water faucets and disconnect hoses. “When water pipes freeze and burst, they can cause extensive water damage,” Kontz reports. Avoid flooding and a messy cleanup by insulating your water pipes and hose bibs with kits found at hardware stores. Bayens also recommends blowing water out of your hoses to ensure their longevity.
Give yard equipment a little attention. “Gas powered mowers, edgers, and blowers should be drained of gasoline and oil in an environmentally conscious way,” Bayens says. If you’re unable to drain them, add a fuel stabilizer or to avoid start up problems come spring.
Clean your chimney and check your heating system. Every season your chimney needs a proper cleaning, to ensure it will operate effectively and safely, Kontz says. Also make sure your furnace is working and filters are being changed. “A poorly maintained furnace can produce dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide,” she warns.
Seal windows and check weatherstripping. Keep cold drafts away by preventing cold air from leaking into your home. Not only will this keep you toasty all winter long, Kontz says, but it will save you money on your energy bills.
Reverse your ceiling fans. If you enjoy having air movement year round, toggle the switch on your fans to reverse their direction, Kontz advises. This will produce a gentle updraft, which forces warm air near the ceiling down into the occupied space. Clean the blades first to avoid the disbursement of dust.
TSG Tip 385 from Christopher Lydon, co-owner of James Lydon Sons & Daughters in Nantucket, Massachusetts; Scott Bayens, realtor at Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty; and Kelly Kontz, realtor and owner of Key Group in Omaha, Nebraska. James Lydon Sons & Daughters is featured in The Scout Guide Nantucket. Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty is featured in The Scout Guide Aspen. Key Group is featured in The Scout Guide Omaha.