Bergen County Home Design News: Preparing Your Home for Winter
Preparing Your Home for Winter

As winter approaches, preparations should be considered both inside and outside your home to protect your investment, maintain your safety, and provide comfort throughout the colder winter months.

Indoor Preparations

The most obvious items to address as the winter months approach center largely around ensuring that your home remains warm. Regardless of your heat source there are preventative measures that should be taken to ensure that you remain warm and safe inside your home. Some of the most important areas to assess include:

• Furnaces - regular annual furnace inspections will help keep your furnace in good repair. Cleaning or replacing furnace filters monthly during the operating months will also keep your furnace operating efficiently.

• Oil Heaters - like furnaces, oil heaters require annual inspections and maintenance. Annual inspections should include: inspecting the chimney, cleaning the pipes to remove soot build up, replacing the air filter, checking oil pressure and cleaning the oil filter bowl. Oil supplies will need to be replenished.

• Fireplaces - periodic cleanings should be performed by a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote buildup to prevent chimney fires. It is also a good time to ensure that woodpiles are sufficiently stocked for the winter months with well-seasoned wood. Woodpiles should be located in a dry location and in an area away from structures to prevent granting wood-eating insects, such as termites, easy access to your home.

• Inspect windows and door for leaks - replacing cracked windows, or sealing air leaks around doors and windows will not only make the winter months more comfortable, but will also lower the costs of heating your home. One method of sealing leaks around windows is by using a removable caulking product which allows for easy removal and restoration of functionality for windows with the return of warmer weather in the spring.

• Evaluate smoke detectors and related safety equipment - the ending of daylight savings time is an ideal time to replace batteries in smoke detectors and any other battery-powered safety or emergency equipment. It is also a good time to evaluate existing smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers in terms of lifespan and whether they provide an adequate level of coverage. Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are generally considered to have a lifespan of 10 years, whereas carbon monoxide detectors have a lifespan generally ranging from 2 to 5 years. Beware that batteries in the carbon monoxide detectors may still function after the actual carbon monoxide sensor has ceased being operational.

Outdoor Preparations

Outdoor preparations should include a walk around your property with an eye for cracks in foundations, the mortar in brick structures, and caulking or weather stripping that has failed. Other things to look for include: evidence of uninvited guests in the form of rodents or birds living or nesting in unsafe or unwanted locations, exposed wood that may need some type of protective treatment applied, and items that are too close to heat sources that could become fire hazards. In addition to this general evaluation, here is a list of specific items to consider:

• Hoses/hose bibs - in regions where temperatures drop below freezing, it is important to disconnect and drain your garden hoses, and either wrap hose bibs or cover them with insulating covers to prevent freezing pipes. A quick inspection for other exposed pipes that may need insulating will prevent the headache of dealing with broken pipes later.

• Sprinkler systems - in colder climates, sprinkler systems will