As the leaves start changing colors and falling off the trees, nature gives us a not-so-subtle reminder that winter is coming. And with the change of seasons, those of us who own a home need to be doing what the squirrels are doing as they hide away acorns. We need to get ourselves and our houses ready for fall and winter weather.
Thankfully, it’s not too hard or too soon to get started on the process of prepping your home for cooler weather. There are some practical ways to make repairs and fixes that will help you have a happy fall and winter. And it’s best to get started now, while the warmth of summer hasn’t entirely faded. Use this handy checklist to make sure your home is ready to face the cold before it ever gets here.
Do a perimeter check of your home’s exterior, looking for the following areas to be in good condition:
- Check roof and siding. Oklahoma’s windy weather and hailstorms can wreak damage on your roof tiles. Make sure everything is tightly in place. Check for cracks and have them repaired. Remove any debris. If you have a chimney/fireplace, have it cleaned and inspected before attempting to make your first fire of the winter season.
- Clear gutters and water drainage systems. Make sure all the gutters and downspouts are clear of dead leaves and fallen branches, and point drainage away from your driveway and sidewalk, where water will turn to ice in freezing temperatures. If you have sprinklers, check them for leakages and turn them off once the temps get colder. And while you’re at it, shut off outside faucets or seal them with a winter cover to prevent freezing and broken pipes.
- Weather seal doors and windows. Drafty houses cost more to heat, draining your checking account. Make sure the windows and doors close fully. Apply caulking and sealant to cracks.
- Prepare landscaping for winter. Trim hanging tree branches and be sure all power lines are clear. Rake and dispose of fallen leaves by bagging them for removal or creating a compost pile. Cut back any bushes, roses, and other plants that need trimming. If you’re a gardener, plant your spring bulbs now, before the ground freezes. Apply lawn fertilizer to help your grass survive the cold and limit the growth of weeds.
- Store summer furnishings. Move the summer chairs, kiddie pools, hammocks and other summer-only items into your shed. Tip: take time to organize your shed so it’s easy to remove everything next spring. Then lock it all up.
Prepare your garage and all vehicles for winter weather with these tips:
- Organize the garage. While you’re organizing around your house, don’t leave out the garage. Move all the summer tools into storage and bring out the winter items — the snow blowers, leaf blowers, rock salt and shovels — where they’ll be easy to access. Do maintenance on summer vehicles a final time before you store them, so they’ll be ready to go next year.
- Winterize your car. Have your car inspected for winter-preparedness. Replace worn tires before icy weather puts you in danger of a spin-out. Make sure the wiper blades are working properly, and if they’re leaving streaks or are cracked, replace them. Put an ice scraper, de-icer, blanket, and other winter items in your car in case you get stuck or stalled out. Have your mechanic do routine maintenance, including a check of the fluids, battery, engine, and headlights.
Make sure your home’s interior is in tip-top shape by reviewing the following areas:
- Replace batteries and bulbs where needed. It’s a good rule of thumb to replace the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide every fall and every spring. In addition, check and replace batteries and light bulbs on your porch, in your garage, and anywhere else that you have items that help you walk safely around your home.
- Clean or replace air filters and humidifiers. Some air filter systems need to be vacuumed regularly, and some have filters that need replacement. Either way, take care of yours at least every 3-6 months, especially at the start of fall/winter and spring/summer. If you use a humidifier, clean it according to instructions and set it up for the dry winter months.
- Inspect your furnace and HVAC systems. Have your heating system inspected by an HVAC professional before you turn on the heat. And do it soon, before the first freeze hits and HVAC firms get flooded with repair calls. Don’t neglect ducts and pipes in the garage, water closets, attic and other hidden spots around your home. Make sure they are properly insulated and sealed to prevent breakage during freezes.
With a reasonable amount of work, organization, and forethought, your home (and car) can be prepared for and ready to endure the coming winter months.
This is why we do what we do at Oklahoma Technical College. We love training people to meet the needs of our fellow Oklahomans, to make their lives better and safer. No doubt you’ll see some of our HVAC program graduates this fall as you have them check your heating. And if you’ve ever thought that could be you — that you could be doing HVAC work or maintaining cars and trucks, or even welding — let us help you find out how you can transition into a career of helping others care for their homes and cars. We’re here to answer your questions. Call us at 918-895-7500 to speak with our career advisors or submit a request for information on our training programs today.