Cold mornings followed by warm sunny afternoons must mean it’s fall in Montana. And with occasional white-tipped mountains, it reminds us that winter is on its way.
Just like we (try to) prepare ourselves for endless ski runs at high elevation, we need to get our homes ready for whatever winter has in store for us this year. In order to protect your investment and keep it in tip-top shape, consider these five suggestions to get your home ready for winter:
Prepare the home’s exterior: Making sure everything is in good shape on the outside will help keep the “weather” on the outside, where it belongs. Check gutters to make sure they are clear. Ensure that roof shingles and siding are secure; high winds can loosen them over time. If you have heat tape or something similar to prevent ice dams on the roof, ensure that it’s in working order and secure before it’s covered in snow so it will be effective. Drain irrigation systems, and all exterior spigots if they aren’t frost proof. Water can freeze and crack the fixture.
Weatherproof doors and windows: A simple and inexpensive way to make sure cold air isn’t seeping in is by making sure the weather strips on doors and windows are in good shape. That means not cracked, in one piece, and fitting snugly when the door or window closes. In older homes, adding storm doors and windows adds another layer or weather protection and helps keep energy costs down.
Check the heating system: Furnaces and other heating sources should be serviced annually. Furnace filters need to be cleaned, and the efficiency should be monitored to make sure it’s operating effectively. Gas-burning fireplaces and stoves should be checked and cleaned. Companies like Ambient Air Solutions offer maintenance programs to keep your home on an annual schedule so you don’t have to remember.
Maintain Chimneys: There’s nothing like relaxing in front of a cozy fireplace or wood stove after a successful day on the mountain, but chimneys that are used regularly need to be kept clean of dangerous creosote buildup to prevent chimney fires. Have your chimney swept and inspected for foreign objects each year before you use it; and if you own a wood stove, make sure and clean it on a very regular basis to keep it energy-efficient.
Stock up on winter necessities: Don’t wait until the last minute to make sure you have salt or ice melt, shovels and other handy items for winter. Many of us wait until the first big storm to rush out and buy them, but we often find the stores are out of stock. It’s never too early once you begin to see those items in the stores. And don’t forget things like candles and matches, and batteries for flashlights in the event of a power loss.
Remember, the sooner you prepare your home for winter, the sooner you can start praying for snow!