9 Green Tips – How to Winterize the Outside of your Home
There are a variety of things you should prepare outside your home for winter. These include checking your chimney, cleaning your gutters, inspecting your roof and foundation, preparing your landscaping, and making sure your snow blower and shovel are ready and waiting.
✔ Prepare your fireplace and chimney – Your fireplace can provide your home with not only heat during the winter but can also act as the central focus and gathering point of your home. Before it gets too cold, you should take the following steps to make sure that your fireplace is ready for the winter season.
- Have your chimney inspected – Contact a local chimney sweep and ask for a Level 1 inspection. They will inspect your chimney for obstructions and other fire hazards. This should be done at the beginning of every season.
- Buy or Inspect your chimney cap and/or screen – Chimney caps and screens prevent foreign objects or animals from entering your chimney. If you have one in place, make sure there is not anything blocking the airflow.
- Inspect your damper – Make sure that your damper can fully open and close. Your damper should close tightly, preventing any air from entering or leaving.
- Buy Certified Fire Wood – If available in your area, buy firewood sourced from a sustainable forest.
- Check the mortar – Inspect your chimney’s bricks and mortar. Repair any cracks or broken mortar.
- Close your damper – When not in use, be sure to close your damper (but be sure to remember to open it before using it). If your damper seal is not tight, use some insulation to prevent drafts.
✔ Clean your gutters – Once the majority of the leaves have fallen, be sure to clean out your gutters. Once all leaves and debris have been removed, give your gutters a good rinse to remove the remaining dirt and sediment. While cleaning your gutters, inspect them for leaks and misaligned pipes. Clogged gutters can form ice dams, which will cause water to back up. If too much ice forms, your gutters can either tear away from your home or crack. Finally, make sure that the downspouts take water well away from the house. Water that gathers around your foundation could cause damage and cracks.
✔ Inspect your roof – When inspecting your roof, check the flashing to ensure water cannot enter the home. Also, replace any worn roof shingles or tiles.
✔ Prepare your landscaping for winter – Once your trees have shed their leaves, give your yard one last mowing. Inspect your yard for any trees or shrubs that may collect ice and fall on your electric lines – trim these if needed. Take an inventory of your trees and shrubs and check online which should be trimmed to prevent damage during the winter months. Finally, bring in all potted plants that could be damaged by frost.
✔ Drain and disconnect your hoses – Be sure to drain all garden hoses and disconnect them from your home. If hoses are left connected to your home, water can freeze in them and bust your outdoor pipes.
✔ Check your foundation – Clear away all leaves and vegetation from around your foundation. Find all exterior entry points and crawlspace entrances and make sure they are sealed to keep the heat in and the rodents out. Also, inspect the entire foundation and tuck-points for cracks – seal these as needed. Finally, inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestations.
✔ Prepare your outdoor surfaces – Inspect your driveway, brick and patios and wood decks. If they are in need of sealing, try to do this before the first frost.
✔ Store your summer equipment – After you mow your lawn for the last time, be sure to drain all gas from your mower. Gather all your summer gardening equipment (mower, blowers, weed-eaters, trimmers, etc.), clean them, and then find a dry place to store them until spring.
✔ Ready your winter equipment – If you have a snow blower, give it a tune-up and fill it with fuel so it will be ready when you need it. Make sure your snow shovel and ice choppers are in good condition. Finally, buy a couple bags of ice-melt so you will have this on hand when needed.