Monday, October 24, 2005

Winterizing Your Home

Man, it was pretty freakin' chilly out here this weekend. I spent most of it with my hands wrapped around a beer, watching all me teams lose at the last freakin' second. Sheesh. Anyway, everytime I ran outside to find a nut (or other food) I realized that I really haven't been preparing for winter yet, and you know us Squirrels, preparedness is our watchword. So, in anticipation, I have developed this list for winterizing your own tree.

1. Make sure your furnace is in working order. Check that the furnace filter is clean. Even if it is, just replace the damn thing, it only costs a couple bucks. Ensure that your thermostat and pilot light are working properly and that the pipe bringing fuel to your furnace isn't leaking or loose. If it is, call a pro.

2. Feel around your indoor electrical outlets and switch-plates for cold air, add insulation where necessary.

3. Check the cauling around doors and windows to make sure there's no cracking or peeling. Recaulking if needed prevents cold air from entering your home. Keep that heating bill a bit lower.

4. Have your heating ducts cleaned. It is recommended that the ducts be vacuumed every five years (the cleaning guys will tell you every three).

5. Put a insulation jacket on your hot-water heater to save more heating money.

6. Keep your temperature set no lower than 65 degrees. This is the temperature recommended to keep your indoor pipes from freezing.

7. Get to know your plumbing. Learn how to shut water off and know where your pipes are located. If your pipes do freeze, time is essential. The quicker you can shut off the water, or direct your plumber to the problem, the better chance you have to prevent pipes from bursting.

8. Close any vents in your home that may have been opened for the warm weather.

9. Trim trees and remove dead branches. Ice, snow, and wind could cause weak trees or branches to break, damaging your home or car, or injuring someone walking on your property.

10. Remember all the leaves that are falling off your trees? Well, lots of them are snuggled in your gutters. Cleaning them out should prevent water from building up and subsequently freezing.

11. While you're up there cleaning out leaves, you should check your chimney and ensure that it is clog free. Consider installing a screen over the chimney top to prevent this (after cleaning). Maybe even contact a chimney sweep and have the job done properly.

12. Test the flue on your chimney for each fireplace for a tight seal when closed.

13. Keep snow and ice from building up around the bottom of your garage door so that it closes completely and doesn't warp.

14. Disconnect and drain hoses from outside faucets and turn off the water.

15. Make sure steps and handrails are in good shape. Broken stairs and banisters can become dangerous when covered with ice and snow. Make repairs now to prevent someone from falling and being seriously injured.

16. Drain the gasoline from lawnmowers, weed wackers, and other engines that won't be used until summer.

17. Buy a snow shovel, salts, and other winter supplies before the messy weather hits.

18. Keep extra water, canned food, and warmth items in storage... just in case.