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Prepping your home for winter

Fall is here and we know winter’s not far behind. But before temperatures plunge, it’s a good idea to look around your home and check to make sure you’re ready for the winter weather.

Here are several items T.W. Ellis recommends taking care of before winter. It’s always a good idea to have a qualified professional tackle any major projects to make sure it’s being handled safely and skillfully.

Consider an energy audit

The fall is a good time to have your home checked for energy efficiency. As an NAHB Certified Master Green Professional, T.W. Ellis is trained in the latest techniques to improve the sustainability of your home. (Read more here on why you should choose a Certified Green Professional.)

Looking for leaks and improving your insulation will help cut winter heating bills. There’s a good chance you’re losing energy through your attic. Improving insulation by keeping the heat in your home where it belongs instead of rising to the attic can cut energy costs by up to 10 percent.

Doors & Windows

Doors and windows present several potential problem areas. Most notably, check for air leaks around the frames of both. Do you feel cool air on windy days? Most likely you’ve noticed these drafts in the past. Check for deteriorating outdoor moulding, caulk and weatherstripping. New windows can make a big difference, especially in an older home. We can walk you through all your options or help you address these issues.

Prepare for a freeze

The most common winter home problem is frozen pipes. Be sure to shut off and drain outdoor water faucets. Protect indoor pipes by insulating those in unconditioned areas, such as basements or crawlspaces. Pay special attention to exposed pipes that face an outside wall, such as those under the kitchen sink.

Inspect fireplace and chimney

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 17,000 chimney fires occur every year. Having your chimney inspected annually by a professional and cleaned as needed is the best way to prevent potential chimney fires. It’s also important to look for loose bricks, cracks or other damage to the fireplace.

Also check the chimney cap to make sure animals can’t make their way into the home and the flashing around the chimney, as that is a common area for leaks. It’s a good idea to hire a professional instead of heading up to the roof yourself. (More common signs of roof trouble: 11 Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Shingled Roof.)

Furnace check-up

Fall is the best time to have your furnace inspected to make sure it’s ready for another harsh winter. At the very least, turn on the heat and run it for several minutes to make sure it’s working.

Inspect and clean interior vents and exterior exhaust to ensure they are open and free of obstructions. Replace the furnace filter before winter for optimal operation.

Clean and inspect gutters

Clogged gutters can cause a number of problems. Regular maintenance will help prevent water damage to your home. After the leaves have fallen is a good time to clean them out to remove those and other debris. The clutter will add weight if water freezes, increasing the change of damage to the gutters. It also makes it more likely the gutters will back up and cause ice dams and other damage to your roof.

Check for dead branches

Take a look outside. If there are any dead trees or dead branches, especially near the house, fall is a good time to think about removing them. A snow- or ice-covered dead branch may snap under the extra weight, risking injury to people or damage to your home.

Test smoke and CO detectors

With houses closed up tight and fireplaces and furnaces running, winter creates a higher risk of both fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Test your smoke and CO detectors and change batteries where necessary. Replace any detectors that aren’t functioning.

T.W. Ellis is here to help you get ready for any season. Contact us today to discuss your remodeling needs!

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