Winter is Almost Upon us Here in Northern Virginia. Is Your House Ready For the Cold, Windy Months Ahead?
As fall ends and winter begins, it’s time to get your home ready for the cold months ahead. Here is a simple checklist that I go through every year at my own home to ensure that we’re ready:
1) Turn off and drain all exterior faucets (hose bibs).
There are two types of exterior faucets: non-frost proof and frost proof. In my opinion it is good practice to turn off and drain all exterior faucets regardless of type. Here’s why: Typically the shut-off valve is installed in conditioned (heated) space. The water supply from the shut-off valve to the exterior faucet may run thru un-conditioned (un-heated) space, thus be susceptible to freezing.
My recommended winterizing procedure is:
Locate and turn off the interior shut-off valve
Open and drain the faucet(s)
Disconnect garden hose(s) from the exterior faucets. Drain and store the hoses in a dry location.
Leave the faucet(s) open to allow any trapped moisture/ water to escape
2) Check The Gutters & Downspouts
Winter is tough on the gutter system of your home. Now that the trees have finally shed their leaves, it’s a good time to go inspect the gutters and address any issues that are present before the snow starts to fall.
Here’s what I do:
Clean out leaves and other debris
Repair any sagging sections using gutter hangers
Check your gutters and downspouts for any blockages, and make sure your gutter leads extend at least 5′ from the foundation.
While you’re up on that ladder, take a look at the roof. You want to look for anything that sticks out (cracks, missing or curling shingles, any signs of rot on the soffit, trim, etc.)
Consider installing gutter guards to prevent debris from getting into the gutter system in the first place.
3) Make Sure Drainage is running away from the foundation
The best time to evaluate whether or not your lot is draining properly is after a heavy rain. Take a walk around your property and look for any drainage issues:
Water pooling near or against the foundation
Large areas of water pooling anywhere on your property
Water pooling around gutter downspouts
Drainage issues around the foundation of your home need to be dealt with correctly in order to ensure long-term structural integrity, and to prevent flooding. It’s all about achieving a proper grade, with your home foundation as the high point and the surrounding lot sloping down from that high point. If you’re having drainage issues around the foundation, I would recommend hiring someone to remedy the situation as soon as possible.
Drainage issues in other areas of your property can affect your landscaping, lead to increased levels of insect activity, and cause other issues that affect your quality of life. While not as critical, they should still be addressed if possible.
4) Check Air Filters and Smoke Detectors
The transition from fall to winter is also a great time to take care of a few basic maintenance tasks inside your home.
Check and replace HVAC air filters
Check Smoke Detector Batteries
If you don’t have them already, consider installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home as well. This is especially important in the winter, as many homes use combustable fuel heating. In reality, every home with at least one fuel-burning appliance/heater, attached garage or fireplace should have a carbon monoxide alarm.
If you have any questions about your home, and what you should check, please feel free to call me or shoot me a message. I’m always happy to lend my expertise.