Prepare Your Home for Winter


By Ali Sahabi of Optimum Group, LLC

President, Building Industry Association (BIA) Baldy View Chapter

     According to the latest data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this year’s wet El Niño system is estimated to transition to a drier La Niña condition with about a 55-60 percent chance of La Niña during the fall and winter. What that means is that, while this autumn and winter might be drier than last year’s, homeowners will still have to protect against cold and rain in the upcoming months. So before the days get shorter and you have to start digging out your winter clothes, here are some tips to help you get your home ready for winter, protect your investment in your home and save on energy costs this year.

·         Start by checking your HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) systems filters that remove dirt and dust from the air. Check your instruction books or search online by model number and change the filters seasonally to keep them running at optimum efficiency.

·         For your plumbing, clean your faucet's aerator, which is the spring inside the end of the faucet and remember to always run cold water through your garbage disposal during use.

·          If you have a wood burning fireplace, be sure to always build the fire on the andirons or grate. To prevent soot buildup, throw in a handful of salt. Remember to always store your firewood outside, away from the house and not directly on the ground.

·         Check your local fire district’s or city hall’s website for local fire safety tips and regulations. If you have an older home, be sure to have a Chimney Safety Institute of America CSIA- Certified chimney sweep inspect your chimney and fireplace annually, especially if you build a lot of fires in the winter.  Check their website at for other fireplace safety tips.

·         With changing seasons, masonry walls sometimes develop a white powdery substance. This is called efflorescence, a crystallized soluble salt that can be removed by scrubbing with water and a stiff brush.

·         If you have a home security system, regularly check the alarms and circuit breakers to ensure they are in working order. Inspect the sensors one by one.  The batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should also be checked twice a year to ensure they are operable. Hard-wired and battery-powered detectors should be replaced every ten years.

     Once you are confident that your indoors are ready for cooler weather, step outside and take some time to make sure that your home – and you – are protected against the elements.

·         Have a qualified roofer inspect your roof every few years. Skylights should also be inspected each time your roof is inspected so leaks don't develop from cracks and interruptions around the seals, caulking and flashings (material used over joints in roof and wall construction to prevent water seeping in and causing damage).

·         Inspect the exteriors of windows and doors yearly to see if the caulking around them has split and cracked. If so, replace the caulk and clean any mildew. For a simple solution to wash extremely dirty exterior windows, combine equal parts vinegar and water or three tablespoons of denatured alcohol per quart of warm water. Use a piece of crumbled newspaper to wash the glass to avoid lint left behind by paper towels. To help a window slide easily, rub the channel with a piece of paraffin wax.

·         For your siding, remember to trim shrubbery away so that it does not touch the home. The exterior of your house is built to withstand exposure to the elements, but a periodic cleaning will improve the appearance and, in many instances, prolong the life of siding and other exterior products.

·         And finally, remember to oil the moving parts of your garage doors before the weather changes.

     Even with our legendary mild winters, the change in seasons will have an impact on your home - and since the home is still the biggest and best investment most Americans will make in their lifetime, the waning weeks of summer provide homeowners a great opportunity to protect their investment while ensuring their comfort as the seasons change.

     For more information on buying, owning or maintaining your home, visit our website.

     And have a terrific autumn.