Home experts tell us the fixes to make now so all you have to worry about is who's making the hot chocolate later.
Clean the gutters: Gutters collect leaves and twigs which block rainwater and melting snow from flowing freely. If melting ice can't drain it seeps into the walls and ceilings of your home and can damage the foundation. In addition to cleaning out the debris, have gutter protection installed, advises John Stephenson, vice president of marketing for home exterior manufacturers Ply Gem. He recommends a continuous hanging system such as Ply Gem's Gutter Warrior, which is strong enough to withstand high winds and heavy amounts of snow and ice.
Check your windows: Now is the time to make sure your windows are in order, advises Chris Pickering, vice president of marketing for Ply Gem Windows. He recommends walking around your home on a windy day to see if there are any breezy spots and to check for cracks in window frames. "If you do notice a draft coming in, one easy fix is to pick up some weather stripping at your local hardware store," says Pickering. "Expanding foam is another option -- but it's crucial to make sure you get 'low expansion,' which is designed for windows and doors. Also, make sure to caulk cracks from the outside. A more advanced project, for someone with a bit of carpentery skill, would be to add storm windows for extra protection." However, if your windows are in really bad shape you'll want to do a full window replacement. "That's when you call up an expert," says Pickering. Those living in the East Coast should get windows with an Energy Star Rating for the Northern Climate Zone. This has a U factor of 0.30 or below.
Get your heating system serviced: "Just as a tune-up can improve gas mileage or a car's performance, a yearly tune-up of the heating system can improve efficiency," says Myles Meehan, senior vice president of emergency repair provider HomeServe USA. "Cold temperatures cause central heating systems to work harder to supply warm air throughout the home. Now is the time to schedule a tune-up with a certified HVAC technician to ensure everything is working and prevent the hassle of repairs in the dead of winter."
If your window frames are in good condition but you have single-pane glass and want a more modern and energy-efficient double-pane glass, you need to pick up a sash replacement system, says Pickering.
Full winterizing exterior makeover
Want to fix it all in one go? The Designed Exterior by Ply Gem helps take your aging home and make it new and energy efficient. Plus, they work with you to create a customized look within your budget. Find out more at www.plygem.com.
Prevent freezing pipes
Turn off exterior faucets since water that is not drained can freeze, causing pipes to expand and possibly burst, says Meehan. You can start by disconnecting garden hoses and sprinklers and draining water that is remaining in faucets. If you don’t have frost-proof faucets, remember to turn off the water shut-off valve inside your home as well.