Preparing Your Home for Winter
Now that we’ve had a glimpse into winter, it’s a great time to make sure your home is prepared for the season! These five simple tips from the Department of Building Safety can save you money and time once the snow really begins to fly.
- Clean gutters and downspouts. While you’re hanging up your holiday lights, take the time to check your gutters, roof, and fascia for damage! Leaves and other debris can clog gutters. The debris can become wet and may hold moisture that can freeze when the temperature drops. This freeze-thaw cycle can damage the gutters, fascia, and roof. The debris may also result in overflows during thawing periods. The best time to clean the gutters is after the majority of the leaves have dropped from trees. Make sure the downspouts and any extensions are directed away from foundation since saturated soil increases the risk of damaging frost heave and/or leaks in the basement.
- Prepare exterior plumbing. Don’t forget to turn off the outdoor faucets using the interior shut-off valve and drain the water from the pipe to the exterior. Also, disconnect and drain garden hoses and sump pump discharge hoses. Hoses connected to the exterior of the home can freeze, and that freeze can follow the hose back into the wall and burst the pipe inside. Prevent this from happening by installing foam insulated faucet covers.
- Heating checkup. Have your furnace and fireplaces professionally serviced to ensure they are working at peak efficiency. Also, change the furnace filter. Make sure exterior openings are clean and clear. High efficiency furnaces use PVC vents and intakes that exit the exterior wall near ground level. Check for obstructions like grass clippings or vegetation that may have grown over, and make sure critters have not built nests in the unused vent. Also, check metal furnace vents that protrude through the roof. Chimneys and vents should have a UL listed metal rain cap that are in good repair and clear of debris. If the caps are missing or have damaged screening, check for nests and other debris. Inspect a wood burning fireplace to ensure there is a spark screen present and in good repair. Also, make sure the flue operates properly and the chimney is clean and clear—sweep if necessary.
- Check weather stripping. Visually inspect around doors and windows for worn or damaged weather stripping and seals. Ensure the door fits tightly and there are no gaps. Also, check that all windows operate and lock properly. If you have an older home with storm windows, remove the screens and install the storm windows. If the windows don’t seal well, try using a plastic window insulation kit.
- Fix cracks in concrete. Repair/patch any visible cracks on the driveway, your sidewalk, or foundation. Cracks can allow water to leak in and then freeze during the winter, causing further damage. There are numerous products available for sealing concrete, including squeeze bottles, and caulking guns for small jobs and bulk buckets for large ones.
Don’t forget to wrap up your outdoor building permits (like roofing or residing permits) by scheduling final inspections. Call the Monticello Building Safety Department staff at 763-295-3060 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please have the permit number or address handy.