Winter is here—and that means it’s time to prepare your home to stand up against the elements. The good news is, the steps you take now to maintain your home exterior will help it last, retain its value, and look beautiful.
Use this checklist, from the pros here at Siding & Windows Group, to keep your Chicago home in great winter shape, and to spot any issues that may need the care of a home exterior remodeling contractor before they result in costly damage down the road.
Check Attic Insulation
Inspect your attic to see if insulation is intact and in good shape. It shouldn’t be thin, missing, or wet. Without enough insulation, heat escapes through your attic to the outside, driving up utility costs and increasing the likelihood of moisture damage underneath the roof.
Getting new or additional insulation will improve your energy efficiency this winter, as well as help your roof function at its best.
Clear Out Gutters
At this time of year, the leaves from your trees have fallen—and many of them may be stuck in your home’s gutter system. Leaves and debris can clog your downspouts, leading to water buildup and during the coldest days, ice dams.
Call a reliable professional for a good gutter cleaning, or add gutter guards to prevent clogs from being an issue in the future.
Cover Patio Furniture
To preserve your outdoor furnishings, cover items with lightweight tarps. Or, store your outdoor furniture in a basement, shed, or garage until warmer months arrive. Another fun option: Bring outdoor furniture inside and use them indoors.
Don’t wait until the cold winter months to discover your furnace isn’t working properly. The best time for a furnace inspection and tune-up is before things get too cold.
Have a professional check your furnace to make sure it’s clean and in proper working condition. That same technician can check carbon monoxide levels and replace HVAC filters if needed.
Over the years as you warm your home with a sturdy fireplace, a build-up of creosote can build up. Creosote is highly flammable and can pose a danger. In addition, a blocked chimney or flue can lead to a life-threatening fire or carbon monoxide seepage.
To eliminate these issues, make sure your chimney and vents are brushed clean and free from debris. Before you set fires blazing in your fireplace, clean it out. If it’s been a while before you’ve had it inspected, hire a professional to do so.
Prepare for Snow Removal
Before the season’s first heavy snow, make sure you’re stocked up on needed supplies, such as salt that you can spread on driveways and sidewalks. Using de-icer makes snow removal easier and prevents ice accumulation beneath snow-covered areas. Kitty litter also works in a pinch. Locate and pull out snow shovels and other snow removal tools for easy access.
The paint on your siding acts as a protective barrier to harsh winter elements. Peeling or scratched paint doesn’t fully prevent water from damaging siding material over time. A pre-winter touch up can be an important part of protecting your home’s exterior.
A home exterior contractor can make it easy to give your home a new look and preserve it with fresh, attractive paint.
Your roof is an important line of defense against moisture damage. To ensure your roof is in good condition, inspect it from the ground with binoculars, or have it checked by a professional roofer before inclement weather arrives. Look for damaged shingles, cracked flashing, and missing caulk.
In addition, head up to the attic to look for drafty areas and light coming through from above. If you spot issues, contact a home exterior contractor with roofing experience for repairs.
Also, if your roof is a flat, asphalt and pebble treated surface, as many in Chicago are, brush or blow off leaves and pine needles, which can retain moisture from snow.
Eliminate Window Drafts
Windows are a common source of drafts that drive up your energy costs, which is why it is extremely important to address issues with windows before winter arrives. Consider an upgrade to beautiful new energy-efficient windows to keep valuable heat inside where it belongs.
If you’re not ready for new windows, replace seals and recaulk around windows to improve insulation. Silicone caulk is the best for your home’s exterior because it is impervious to the elements and doesn’t shrink.
Rubber Weather Window Sealing
You can buy strips of self-stick rubber weather sealing at a hardware store or online. Cut long strips down to fit your window dimensions, then peel and stick to the frame to close any gaps and keep out drafts. This tool is cheap and effective. But when peeling away the rubber strips, it could cause damage to the paint.
Window Insulation Film
These kits usually include plastic shrink film that is applied to the indoor window frame with double-stick tape, and then heated with a hair dryer to shrink the film and remove any wrinkles. The only con about this product is that it leaves a cloudy, shrink-wrapped look to your window.
Draft snakes are fabric tubes places on a windowsill or under a door to prevent cold air from creeping in. You can make on by sewing a tube of fabric to fit the width of your window and filling it with dried rice. This is a cheap and easy to make project.
Weather Strip Doors
Cold drafts are not only uncomfortable in wintertime; they are also expensive. When the space around doors and windows leak valuable heat, it’s the same as your money in your bank account pouring out of your home during the cold winter nights.
Add additional weather stripping to exterior doors. This step is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to save energy and increase your indoor comfort during the upcoming cold winter months.
Shut Off Exterior Faucets and Sprinkler Systems
Undrained water pipes can freeze in cold weather. As the ice expands, it can cause pipes to burst, leading to costly water damage.
To prevent pipe leaks, disconnect all garden hoses and drain water left in outdoor faucets. Also, ensure your sprinkler system is shut down properly during winter. This can sometimes require lines to be blown out. Do it yourself or call a professional for expert assistance.
Protect Your Home with Topnotch Exterior Maintenance
Your home can look beautiful, perform well, and retain its value for years to come with proper exterior care. Siding & Windows Group is proud to be a top-rated home exterior contractor in the Chicago area. Our customers are our #1 priority, and we’re here to serve you.
So, don’t let stress keep you from enjoying your home this winter. Contact us for a free consultation—and enjoy exterior upgrades that give you peace of mind.