Hines Building Supply

Is your home ready for winter

Dec 5, 2016

Hines Windows

Winter is upon us, and for many people this means the joy of the holidays, hot chocolate and sitting by the warmth of a fire as it becomes dark early. To properly enjoy the winter, however, you need to ensure that your home is ready for the cold weather. Too many homeowners find themselves forced to deal with high utility bills from leaky windows and even damage to their property caused by not being properly prepared. Here are a few ways you can prepare your home for winter:

1.   Check the doors and windows!

Your first step in winter-proofing your home for the year should be to check the seals on all your doors and windows. Old or improperly attached weather stripping can let warm air out and cold air in, producing drafts and needlessly driving up your heating costs.

Do a thorough inspection of every door and window in your home; check the seals for any holes or cracks. If necessary, add new weather stripping or caulk to close gaps that are letting cold air in. Silicone caulk is best for filling small gaps as it does not shrink, even in very cold weather.

You will also want to look for signs of rot in any wooden window frames and replace any damaged parts. If you are feeling particularly ambitious, you can also install new storm windows or energy-efficient windows to give your home that extra protection. Look for a reputable local building supply company – such as Hines Supply, if you live in the Chicago area – and consult with experts to discuss upgrades that could benefit you and your home.

2.   Prevent ice damage!

Any standing water left in gutters, hoses or elsewhere can freeze when it gets cold. As it freezes, the water will expand. If a pipe freezes and breaks, it can potentially do catastrophic damage to your home. To prevent this, check all the pipes in your home. Use heat tape to wrap any that seem like they will be vulnerable to the cold weather. It’s also a good idea to make sure there is no standing water in any hoses, gutters or other areas. Leaves stuck in a gutter can trap water and freeze, so take steps to clear your gutters out before it gets too cold. Try to make sure that any rain or snow that falls is drained well away from the house and foundation. Over time excess water can cause severe damage. In many cases you may be able to use gutter accessories and simple tactics to guide water away.  In more severe instances you may need to rework gutter systems or have underground drainage installed.

3.   Check your heater!

The best time to make sure that your heating system is functioning properly is before it gets cold. If your heater breaks during the cold season then you may have to wait to get it repaired. Have a professional come and do an inspection of your heater, heat pump and thermostats. They can ensure that your system is running properly and efficiently to help you save on your heating bill. They can also make any necessary repairs so that you won’t have to worry when it’s freezing outside.

4.   Inspect the roof!

Before the winter chill sets in it’s also important to check your roof. Damaged or missing shingles can allow cold air into your home and can also interfere with water and snow drainage. Replace any missing shingles and take care to remove any debris from your roof that has accumulated. Piles of leaves and other obstructions can cause ice dams to form, potentially damaging your roof and allowing cold water to drip into your home.

5.   Make sure the area around your home is safe!

When you are preparing your home for winter, don’t forget about external risks, such as nearby trees. If there are trees on your property it’s a good idea to have an arborist come take a look before the winter months to see if any limbs appear vulnerable to upcoming inclement weather. The last thing you want during winter is for unsafe tree limbs to break windows or cause other damage your property.

Another step you can take is to mulch the leaves that accumulate on your lawn rather than simply raking them away. The mulched leaves add a layer of insulation for plants and  will slowly decompose over the winter months, providing your lawn with much needed nutrition. You should also make sure that paths and walkways are well lit. As it gets dark early in the wintertime, improperly lit paths can ice over and become a hazard for pedestrians. If you need to install new lights, head to a company such as Hines Supply to acquire the necessary items.

6.   Keep wildlife away!

Building on the previous point, you will also want to keep wildlife from overrunning and harming your property in their search for food. The cold weather can force insects, spiders, rodent, and other pests into your home as they search for warmth and food. The trick is to make sure there is nothing around your home that seems inviting to them. Clean up any clutter in your garage; rats and mice can use the little nooks and crannies that clutter creates to hide in. Sweep up and vacuum regularly as well.