Winterizing Your Home
To prepare their property for winter, many homeowners simply apply new caulking, replace damaged weatherstripping, and install an additional layer of insulation in the attic or basement. In actuality, though, there are a host of tasks and duties you’re probably forgetting, which may lead to expensive hassles and time-consuming repairs next spring. Take note of these 10 spots many homeowners forget to winter-proof, and make sure you don't make the same mistake!
Outdoor Faucets, Pipes, and Hoses
Water damage from burst pipes and cracked fittings can be devastating. In fact, it’s one of the primary causes of homeowner insurance claims, according to the Insurance Information Institute. To head off problems before temperatures plummet, turn off the water supply and drain all outside faucets; unhook and drain all hoses and connecting pipes; and, as a final precaution, use an air compressor to blow any leftover water out of the system.
Sprinkler and Irrigation Systems
It's pretty easy to forget about that underground sprinkler system once the lawn goes dormant in the fall, but you still need to winterize it to prevent damage. Unhook and drain the feeder line from the water supply, then use an air compressor to blow any remaining water out of the system. Alternatively, you can purchase environmentally safe antifreeze and run that through the sprinkler system.
Fountains and Other Water Features
Listening to the gentle splish-splash of a water fountain is a relaxing summer pleasure. If you want this charming garden feature to keep going strong for years to come, proper winterization is key. Fountains should be drained, cleaned, and stored in a freeze-proof location at some point in the fall. If you have a pond, drain and clean it, then remove and clean the pump and filter systems.
Related: 10 Ways to Weather-Proof Your Garden
Once the dog days of summer are over, the outside components of your air conditioner should be protected against snow, ice, and other cold-weather threats. Clean and cover the exterior condensing units. Make sure all drain hoses are free of water, and cover the ends with wire mesh to prevent insects from taking residence inside. If you have a window unit, remove it, clean the filter, and store the air conditioner in a freeze-proof area. If removal isn't an option, close the vents and protect the unit with a waterproof cover.
Snow, ice, and freezing rain can wreak havoc on your expensive grill. Before cold weather hits, thoroughly clean the appliance's interior, because moisture can combine with charred food residue to create an acidic sludge that will rot the grates and burners. If you have a gas grill, close the valve to the propane tank and disconnect the tank from the grill. Store the grill and tank in a protected area, or purchase specially made covers for them. Charcoal grills should also be cleaned and stored in a protected location, such as the garage or basement.
Snow and ice can damage upholstered patio furniture and cause glass-topped tables to crack. To protect these pricey pieces, move them indoors or cover them with tarps. In addition, it’s smart to store outdoor umbrellas upright in a canvas bag, or secure them with bungee cords.
The last thing you need on a cold, snowy day is a car that just won't start. Keep your vehicle running smoothly by putting the correct antifreeze in the engine, replacing your battery and spark plugs if necessary, and using freeze-resistant windshield washer fluid in the reservoir.
A generator can be a real lifesaver when the power cuts out in a winter storm—unless it hasn't been properly maintained. Before the cold weather hits, check the spark plugs, change the oil, and fill up the gas tank so this vital appliance will always be at the ready.
Lawn Mowers and Other Power Equipment
During the fall, homeowners should clean, repair, and winterize their lawn mower, weed whacker, hedge trimmer, and other lawn and garden equipment. Drain the gas and oil, or use stabilizer fluid designed for these power tools, then store them in the garage, basement, or another well-protected spot.
Trees, Shrubs, and Garden Beds
If you fail to maintain your landscaping before the frigid temps hit, you may be left with dead foliage come springtime. Remove damaged or diseased limbs from trees and shrubs, cover and tie any sensitive plantings with burlap, and put a protective layer of mulch around trees, shrubs, and garden beds. For an environmentally friendly alternative to bags of mulch, chop up any fallen leaves and spread them in your beds instead.
While you’re going around the house tacking care of these winter-proofing musts make sure you aren’t making any of these common mistakes. When it’s dark and chilly, it’s understandable to want to speed through the chores, but you don’t want to skip over anything important or follow a hack that could cause more harm than good.
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