15 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter

We’ve been lucky to have a wonderfully mild (even hot at times!) fall in the Chicagoland area, but we’ve heard word that it’s going to be a doozy of a winter. In fact, we’re looking at below-zero temperatures for a few days later this week! That got us thinking: what are our favorite tips for getting a house ready for winter? And, yeah, we probably should’ve gotten this list going a little sooner, so for that reason, not only are we going to provide you a timeline for next year, we’re going to give you a few things you can do TODAY. Keep an eye out for the steps marked with “➔” – this means that if you haven’t done it yet, you should get it done ASAP (and, they are all do-able from inside!).

Late September

September is the time to get things done outside while the weather is still nice and you have time to hire someone to help you with the work, if needed.

  • Trim branches from trees near the house or any electrical lines that have grown over the summer and could cause damage during icy and windy winter conditions.

  • While you’re still using it regularly, inspect your deck for any damage. Even splintering or insect damage can present a bigger problem when, over the winter, moisture gets into the boards, freezes, and expands. Repair and, if needed, treat your deck to protect it from winter damage.

  • Check handrails on exterior stairs. Are they tight and undamaged? If there are any loose areas, get them fixed now.

Early October

The heat of the summer has likely drifted away by now but if we’re lucky, it’s still mild enough that we haven’t turned the heat on yet. It’s a great time to inspect the roof and exterior of your home.

  • How’s your roof? Early October is a great time of year to have Apex Exteriors out to see if you need any roof repairs. Even a single missing shingle can cause a leak!

  • And while we’re on the subject of roofs, make sure you check places like the chimney, skylights, and around vent pipes for cracks where water could get in.

  • Have a specialist out to inspect the inside of your chimney. After all, you’d hate for Santa to have a problem getting down it! (You’d also hate to have any problems that could be fire risks.)

Mid October

Depending on the year, it could still be warm or it could already be getting pretty chilly, so these steps are a mix of indoor and outdoor items to take care of.

  • The sun is setting earlier and earlier so take the time now to inspect outdoor lighting around your home. Keep walkways well-lit.

  • Think about snow removal. Do you need a snow blower? If you have one, make sure it’s in working order now and that you have fuel for it. And where are those snow shovels? Did them out from the back of the shed and keep them where they are easy to get to. Don’t forget to keep one in the trunk of each car.

  • ➔Inspect windows – both frames and panes – for any potential problem areas where heat might escape. Rotted wooden window frames, cracked windowpanes, gaps between panes and the frame, and proper weather-stripping are a few things you should be on the lookout for. Repair as necessary.

  • ➔When was the last time you cleaned or replaced the air filter for your furnace? A fresh air filter means better furnace efficiency and cleaner air inside your home.

Late October / Early November

If it’s a warm fall, like this year was, these items can wait until early November. But if the chill sets in earlier, you’ll want to get some of them done before Halloween.

  • Once the majority of the trees have given up their leaves, clean your gutters, or hire someone to do it. But don’t wait too long – once snow starts piling, cleaning your gutters can be a real pain. While you (or someone you hire) is at it, make sure gutters and downspouts are not loose. If they are, repair before the first serious freeze.

  • Take the screens out of doors and windows and get your storm doors in place.

  • ➔Shut off exterior faucets. Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to protect against pipe bursts.

  • ➔Check your de-icing supplies for steps, walkways, and the driveway.

  • ➔Give your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors their annual (or even better, semi-annual) check.

So keep this checklist around and next year you’ll be ready to spend the fall slowly getting ready for the arctic temperature of a Chicagoland winter. Meanwhile, get done what you can in the next day or two to make sure you keep your home as cozy and warm as possible while we get blasted by a Polar Vortex.

As always, those of us at Apex Exteriors are here to help you prepare and repair the exterior of your home. If we can be of further assistance in your winter prep, give us a call at 847.531.8960. We’d love to hear from you!

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