With autumn in full swing with all of its pumpkin-picking, leaf-peeping, and spiced lattes, it might seem too early to start preparing your home for snow and icy winds. But now is actually the perfect time to begin winterizing your space before the cold can become your worst nightmare.
There’s no need to panic if you’re feeling unprepared. Here are a few smart tips from local industry experts on how to avoid costly weather damage, save money on heating bills, and de-clutter your home in time for winter and the upcoming holidays.
HOPE ARMAND, MARKETING & COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT MANAGER AT HOPE PLUMBING
One of the most important things you can do to prepare your pipes for winter takes less than five minutes! Simply disconnect your outdoor garden hoses from the attached faucets. This allows the water in the spigot to drain; if you leave the hoses attached, the water remains in the pipes, which can lead to serious plumbing issues once the weather gets colder and the water inside freezes and expands.
Another easy step is to close your crawl space area if you have one. Arctic winds can enter the crawl space and freeze your pipes. Making sure you keep your garage doors closed in the winter can also help protect against the wind and will help prevent damage to your water heater—assuming it’s located in the garage.
It’s also a good idea to take a few minutes to determine the location of your water main shut-off valve. If your pipes ever do burst, knowing where to locate and quickly turn off the valve can be the difference between some modest damage and a devastating amount of property lost, and a quick reaction in a crisis could save you a fortune. For that reason, you may want to make sure that everyone who lives in your home knows the location of the water main and how to turn it off.
DEANNA SANFORD, TEAM LEAD FOR FLOWER MAINTENANCE AT ALL TERRAIN LANDSCAPE AND SNOW MANAGEMENT
Now is a good time to apply an anti-transpirant to your rhododendrons, azaleas, hollies, young evergreens and the like; it forms a protective coating from drying winter winds or severe drought. I like to use a product called Wilt-Pruf. From now until the ground freezes is also a good time to plant any spring flowering bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils, crocuses, and my favorite, hyacinths. Generally, you will plant the bulbs three times as deep as the bulbs are tall. You can also use a little bone meal fertilizer in the hole with your bulb for development.
At this time, you should also make the last cut for your lawn. Cutting your lawn to two or three inches tall helps protect it from developing any disease when the snow covers it for long periods of time. You should fertilize with a high potassium fertilizer at this point as well.
One more thing you can do for your trees you are still watering: Water deeply one last time before the ground freezes, and then mulch well. Keep the mulch slightly away from the base of the tree, then let it sleep for the winter. You should also do the same for your perennial beds—adding two to three inches of mulch will protect your investments throughout the winter.
JANET HIATT, REALTOR®/BROKER AT F.C. TUCKER COMPANY, INC.
Snow and ice can damage your outdoor furniture and grills. If possible, store them in the garage or basement. If you have a gas grill with a propane tank, close the tank valve and disconnect the tank first—it must be stored outside. If you don’t have storage space for your items, purchase covers to protect them from the elements. Wrapping outdoor furniture in tarps and securing with bungee cords is an easy solution.
Inspect your fireplace before curling up on cold winter days. Over time, fireplaces and chimneys can develop cracks, soot buildup, water leaks and become home to animals. Carbon monoxide detectors should be used in all homes with a fireplace system, so make sure those are in working order.
Have you switched out your thermostat to a programmable version? If not, add this task to your list. A programmable thermostat lets you customize your heating, so the system doesn’t run when you don’t need it. You can program the thermostat for one temperature when you’re at home and another for when you’re away.
PAM LEE, OWNER OF HOUSE DETECTIVE INSPECTION SERVICES
FACEBOOK.COM: HOUSE DETECTIVE INSPECTION SERVICES LLC
Make sure all of your gutters are cleaned out of leaves, so that when it snows the snow doesn’t just sit on top of those leaves. When the snow eventually melts, if the leaves in the gutter block the water from draining properly off of the roof, that water can back up under your gutter boards and shingles and can start leaking into your home and down your inside walls.
Inspect the weather stripping around your doors and windows, and if you need to add some more, now’s the time to do that. You can also install door draft stoppers to help prevent drafts—you don’t want the cold air coming in the house, because that raises your heating bills.
Have your heating professionally serviced to check and see that your furnace is running efficiently. You want your heater to be efficient so that it isn’t running more than it’s supposed to, which will up your heating costs—and the last thing you want is for your furnace to die while it’s freezing outside.
MARIA BAER, RESIDENTIAL ORGANIZER AND OWNER OF THE BAER MINIMALIST
Prep your mudroom and coat closets for fall and winter by pulling everything out and giving the space a deep clean. Pitch mittens that are missing their match and sunscreen that has expired. Donate jackets and boots that your family has outgrown. Be picky about which items will call this space “home” for the upcoming season, and consider moving summer items and special occasion coats into each owner’s closet if there isn’t ample space available.
If you happen to be in a position where you store clothing and accessories in multiple places around your home, be sure to take the time to do a proper “seasonal swap.” This is a fantastic time to assess what you’re storing and determine if it still fits your lifestyle and makes you feel your best. If not, consider supporting a local consignment shop, like The Toggery, while earning a little cash back.
As you schedule maintenance appointments for things like furnace tune-ups, landscaping cleanup and organizing your garage, consider setting a reoccurring appointment on your calendar for future years. Establishing an electronic “Home Maintenance” calendar is a great way to ensure things get done around the house. More importantly, it frees up valuable brain space to remember things that are more worthy of your time and effort.
The Baer Minimalist and Hope Plumbing are Indy Maven partners.
Stephanie Groves is an Indianapolis-based freelance writer who can’t seem to figure out how to program her thermostat.