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Get Your Home Ready for Winter 2020!

December 16, 2019

Is Your Home Ready for Winter?  Make Sure Your Home Stays Cozy and Warm.

Whether you do-it-yourself or have someone tackle it for you, the point is to get it done before snow and really cold weather arrive.


1. Have Your Furnace Checked

Have you had your furnace checked this year.  Winter 2019 does not officially arrive until December 21st, 2019 and it has not been really cold so far.   Is your furnace working well?  If so then great.  However, your furnace will have to operate consistently for the next several months so don't forget to schedule a checkup which may include replacing the filter and validation that there are no carbon monoxide leaks.  It is not too late!  Having a system check by a trained HVAC professional will also ensure that your system is running at maximum efficiency so your home is warm and you aren’t wasting money.

2. Make Sure That the Water Pipes Stay Warm (Enough)

DO NOT turn off your heat completely if you plan to be away.  Setting the thermostat at 60°F is usually sufficient.  Does your home have any “cold spots” such as crawl spaces or closets where plumbing/pipes may go through?  These may necessitate leaving closet doors open so these spaces get air (heat) flow.  Every house is different - know what is unique about yours!

When pipes freeze, they can then burst.  If that is not bad enough – what if this happens when you are not around?  (Have Golden Rule watch your home for you when you are away--but that is another story...;-)  Water leaks from burst pipes can cause $$$ thousands in damage to ceilings, drywall, carpet and irreplaceable belongings.

If you are very concerned about freezing pipes then shut off the water at the main valve (in your house) AND drain the pipes.  Don’t forget to drain the hose bibs outside your house and close the valves to those spigots if possible.  If you are not comfortable with doing this then call a reputable plumber or contractor that you trust.

3. Don’t Forget About Plants and Gardening Equipment

Garden hoses left outside with water in them may split or rupture.  Hose end attachments will be damaged from ice expansion too.  If you leave your hose outside then remove the hose end attachment at the very least or plan to buy a new one in the spring...:-)  Bring everything else inside that could be damaged from low temperatures and winter weather (perennial potted plants, ceramic planters and tools that may rust).

4. Clean Gutters and Cover the Air Conditioning Unit

After the leaves are done falling, have your gutters cleaned (do-it-yourself or have someone do it for you).   Full gutters lead to ice dams (when water freezes in the gutter and the ice backs up to your roof or under your shingles leading to water damage to your roof).   Also, if your gutters are full of leaves or debris then water will not drain properly, instead going toward your foundation which may cause basement foundation problems.

You should also cover your outside AC unit to prevent, leaves, snow, ice and other debris from getting in over the winter.  Covers are inexpensive, just remember to remove them before you use the air conditioning again.

5. Have The Roof Inspected

If you think about what is between you and mother nature then the roof of your home is pretty important.   Additionally, you don’t want to be faced with a major roof leak in the winter when it is much harder to fix (and getting someone to fix the problem when it is cold and icy may be more difficult as well).  Have a professional climb up on the roof and inspect it for any damaged shingles, damage from fallen branches, cracked caulking, loose flashing around chimney and for the overall condition of the roof.  As with all repairs get as much detail and documentation as possible.

6. Hire a Chimney Sweep

Do you burn oil, wood, coal for heat or have a wood burning fireplace? If yes then your chimney should be cleaned regularly.  Burning these fuels results in the deposition of creosote.  If this substance is not removed then extremely hot fires in the chimney can result leading to house fires and/or can compromise the integrity of the stone or brick.    Also, make sure that your chimney is capped so debris, birds, small animals and your neighbor's Frisbee can’t fall in.  Haha....

7. Make Sure Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors are in Perfect Working Order

Since the windows and doors will remain closed then it is vitally important for the safety of you and your family that you make sure all CO2 and smoke detectors are working and have fresh batteries.  Many detectors have a test function button – test regularly!

8. Invest in Insulation and Weather Seals

Cold air will find a way into your house. You want to stop this since it makes things less comfortable (cold floors) and it will cost you more (your furnace will run and run ) over the course of the winter.

Again, weather do-it-yourself or if you pay a someone to check the doors and windows it will be well worth it come January when the temperature is colder and stays very cold.  Think of self-stick foam insulation around windows and doors and door sweeps on the floor.    Cold air coming in from light fixtures and wall power receptacles may need to be addressed as well.  These fixes are not costly and will help get your home ready for winter, increase comfort and decrease cost.

You may also benefit from additional layers of insulation in your attic.  Think of R values.  Per Wikipedia, "the R-value is a measure of how well an object, per unit of its exposed area, resists conductive[5] flow of heat:[6] the greater the R-value, the greater the resistance, and so the better the thermal insulating properties of the object. R-values are used in describing effectiveness of insulation and in analysis of heat flow across assemblies (such as walls, roofs, and windows) under steady-state conditions.

The recommended R value in your geography can be found here:

9. Try for a Comfortable Humidity level in Winter

With the doors and windows closed and the furnace running consistently, the humidity level in your home will likely drop.    If humidity drops too low then you and your family may develop sinus problems.   Warm air with excessively low humidity can dry out the sinuses which sometimes leads to respiratory problems that include asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, and nosebleeds.  Interesting fact - Low humidity can also cause wine corks to shrink, allowing the seal to be broken ...ever open a bottle of wine that has gone "bad" and you did not know why?  Low humidity may have been the reason.     If you are concerned about low humidity then consider a local or whole house humidifier.

10. Oh....and Do You Have a Snow Blower?

Have it serviced and ready to go so when the big storm hits, then you are ready.  When there is 12 inches of snow already on the ground is not the time to see if your machine is still ready from last year….


Plan for the above areas and you will save time and money.  Problems with the roof, furnace or other home system may cause frustration but they can be fixed.  Making sure that CO2 and smoke detectors are in working order will save your life!

Have a question on how to get your home ready for winter?  Going away for Winter?  Call the Golden Rule Team - we watch and monitor unoccupied homes.

We have lots of knowledge and we also know some great contractors experts who can help you with any of the above

855-928-2424 Ext 2

Get Your Home Ready For Winter!