Fall is a great time to begin preparations for getting your home ready for the brutal Illinois winter. The fast dip in temperature, harsh winds, and snow all mean that your home will require safeguarding to stay in the best condition. Much of these winterizing projects can be done yourself; however, experts agree that consulting a plumber or certified indoor inspector will ensure that your home is well prepared.
Here are 10 tips provided by home inspectors that service the Des Plaines area, including Eric Baker of Moraine Woods Consulting Inc., and Jeff Nathan of Building Inspectors Consortium Inc., to help you prepare your home (inside and out) for winter:
1: Clean gutters and window wells of leaves
2: Prime and paint any deteriorated exterior paint
3: Replace any deteriorated exterior caulking
4: Check your sump pump(s) and have a spare pump set aside in case this pump fails
5: Do NOT cover the A/C compressor outside - it's designed to be outside and covers can actually retain moisture in the unit
6: Have a qualified HVAC contractor service and clean your furnace and humidifier. The "Fall Tune Up" offered by heating companies is generally bare-bone servicing and may not be worth the expense
7: Remove hoses from exterior and manually drain your valves to avoid freezing water
8: If a fireplace has not had recent servicing/inspection, have a certified chimney sweep inspect, service and clean the firebox and chimney. Hire a sweep that is certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America for your best protection
9: Increase the ceiling/roof insulation to cut down on heat loss by conduction
10: Natural attic ventilation systems are needed to dry the attic space and remove heat buildup during the summer
Chimneys, fireplaces, and attics also require special attention during the winterizing process. Proper insulation and ventilation is important and easy to accomplish. According to Baker, "Such work is a great project in preparing for the winter months with benefits extending on into summer."
You can begin the process by looking inside the flue of a chimney. Second, check for gaps and cracks in the chimney flue liner. Next, hire a certified chimney sweep to remove creosote – a tar like accumulation from burning wood – to avoid fires. Last, check for any gaps near the opening of the fireplace, as they are pathways for combustion on the framing.
Follow these steps and you're on your way to a properly winterized home.