Last year the eastern United States experienced one of the snowiest and at times coldest winters on record, and according to predictions from the Farmers’ Almanac, this winter will be no different. The Farmers’ Almanac predicts Pennsylvania and the rest of the northeast will endure a snowy and unseasonably cold winter. The second weeks of January and February are anticipated to have heavy winter weather, and a long spell of stormy weather is expected to extend through the first half of March.
It is likely that last winter is fresh in your mind, and if it is, you know you don’t want the cold, snowy weather to catch you off guard. Now that we are well into fall, it won’t be long before the colder temperatures arrive. With that said, you should start preparing your home for the colder weather now. Along with stocking up on long johns, sweaters and wool socks, here’s how you should be getting ready for winter:
- Inspect the roof
If you have a steep roof or multi-story home, use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground. Look for loose, missing or damaged shingles, rust spots on the flashing, and other signs of damage or decay. A damaged roofing system can cause leaks during winter storms or from melting snow. If you spot any problems, hire a professional roofing technician to inspect your roof and fix any repairs.
- Examine the fireplace
Use a flashlight to inspect the fireplace flue and check that the damper is opening and closing properly. When you open the damper, look up the flue to ensure it’s free of obstructions, such as branches and leaves. If you see daylight at the top of the chimney, that’s a good sign. Also inspect the firebox for damage, such as missing or cracked bricks and mortar. If you see any damage, schedule a professional inspection.
- Check for drafts
Examine the edges of your doors and windows for drafts. Survey the siding and window and door frames to make sure there are no gaps larger than a nickel. If you have a gap, you will need to reapply exterior caulk. Also inspect the joints of the window and door frames, and seal any cracks. This will prevent air and moisture from entering your walls and save energy.
- Reverse the ceiling fans
Many ceiling fans have a reverse switch that enables the fan’s blades to move in a clockwise direction. Since hot air rises, the fan will generate an updraft and push down hot air from the ceiling. This is particularly beneficial for homes with high ceilings.
- Clean the rain gutters
When the leaves fall in autumn, they can build up in your rain gutters and downspouts. Buildup of debris can cause ice dams to form in the winter, which can lead to damage and costly repairs. It’s important that you de-gunk your rain gutters once the leaves have fallen to prevent the accumulation of dirt and debris. Once you clean your gutters, pour water down your system to make sure it is working efficiently, and replace any worn or damaged parts.
- Winterize your propane tank
Propane is more cost- and energy-efficient than the alternatives, and using propane in Montgomery County is one of the best investments you can make. Before winter comes, there are several things you need to do to prep your propane tank. Whether you have an underground or aboveground tank, you want to plow a clear path to its location so that is easily accessible for your propane supplier. For underground tanks, keep the opening clear of snow; for aboveground tanks, keep the tank itself cleared. Attach a colored flag to your tank and make sure it is large enough to stick out above the snow. If you haven’t already, contact your propane company to refill your tank once it becomes 30% full.
- Prep the plumbing
Disconnect your garden hoses from the outdoor spigots, and drain any excess water from the hoses and faucets. Not disconnecting the hoses can cause water to build up in the faucets and pipes, and when the frigid winter temperatures hit, the water can freeze and crack the pipes and faucets. Also turn off any valves that supply water to the exterior faucets to prevent leaks from entering the faucet. Roll up your hoses and store them inside the garage or shed. Also arrange to have your in-ground sprinkler system shut down and winterized.
By following these steps, you’ll be prepared for the harsh winter season ahead.