Getting Your Home Ready for Winter

Recent rain and cooler temps have reminded us that fall is in full swing—and it’s a great time to begin preparing your home and yard for the coming months. If you start now, you’ll be ahead of the game before the first cold snap hits.

Outdoors, inspect your siding for any cracks or holes, and do a visual inspection of your roof, looking for missing, damaged or loose shingles. Later in the fall, after the leaves have fallen from the trees, be sure to clear your gutters of any debris that might cause clogs, and check for leaks.

Take advantage of the wetter months ahead by doing your fall planting and getting your yard ready for the first frost, which usually comes around November 15 in Austin. The Natural Gardener is a terrific resource and has created handy Monthly To Do Lists to help you know what to plant, and how to prepare for the season. Consider investing in rain barrels; Blairfield Realty’s September 2013 blog can help steer you in the right direction.

Next, check for any cracks in your driveway that may have developed over the summer, then give the driveway a good power washing and seal the cracks. If you choose to seal your driveway when you’re through, be sure to use an asphalt-based pavement sealant rather than a coal tar sealcoat. Check the Alternative Products section on the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department webpage for a list of brands that contain no coal tar, as well as the retail stores where they can be purchased.

Indoors, concentrate on weatherizing your home for the cold winter nights. According to the Sustainable Austin blog, sealing and insulating your home can save you up to 30% on your energy bills, so be sure to caulk and weather-strip doors and windows, insulate walls and attics, repair any ceiling leaks, and clean your fireplace. Other easy steps you can take include wrapping your water pipes with insulation sleeves to slow their heat transfer, making sure that heating vents are clean and clear of obstructions, and covering your water heater with an insulated blanket. Finally, be sure that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries, and check your heating system to be sure that it is working properly.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Taking the steps now to get your home ready for winter can save you headaches and money down the road.

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