Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. With more heater use and wood fires in the fireplace, it is especially important during winter to make sure those smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Use the test button on each device, and change batteries as needed.
Protect pipes from freezing. Frozen pipes can burst, leading to costly repairs. Insulate any exposed outdoor pipes. And if you’re planning to be away from home, ask a friend or neighbor to turn on your water to a trickle. Locate your home’s water shut-off valve so you can cut off the water quickly if a pipe does burst — and be sure to show your house sitter where it is.
If you do nothing else in fall to get ready for winter, clean your gutters. Take steps to prevent ice dams. Ice dams are areas of built-up ice that can accumulate around your roof line, causing leaks when the backed-up snow behind them begins to melt. Remove snow after each storm.
If your windows and doors are set flush with your home's facade, and there are no large roof overhangs to keep rain away, then you will be depending on proper installation and caulk to keep the water out. Proper installation depends a lot on the type of window and siding, but generally it includes head flashing that directs any water that gets behind the siding around the window, and weep holes at the bottom of the window wherever water could be trapped. The type of caulk you use will depend on whether it will need to be painted and what materials it will need to bond to, but a few tips are universal. Remove old caulk that is not well bonded and make sure the surface is clean and dry before caulking.
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Natalie A. Gauci
Licensed Interior Designer working in the Tampa Bay, Florida area.