Winter in Chicagoland means plenty of chances to get cozy. Our area is known for its frigid, blustery winters, complete with frequent snowfall and subzero temperatures — making it the perfect time to snuggle up indoors, preferably with a thick blanket and a warm cup of hot cocoa!
Before you relax and start enjoying the great indoors, it helps to take some time to check a few items off of your home maintenance checklist. Tackling a few projects now may just mean an even warmer, comfier winter.
Before the cold front really settles in, here are ten effective ways to prepare your home for all that a Chicagoland winter might throw your way:
1.) Winterize your hot water heater and pipes
Stay ahead of the cold weather and winterize your home’s plumbing before the chill truly settles in. Before touching anything else, turn off the power and close off the water valve for your house. Drain your water heater, letting it discharge until the tank is empty, before allowing cold water to come back into the system. It is a good practice to flush your hot water heater like this at least twice per year. During the fall months, be sure to turn off all external spigots, faucets, and taps. Inside, consider adding insulation to your water heater and exposed pipes. You can also take some simple steps to prevent your pipes from freezing on particularly cold days, including opening up your cabinets and leaving a slight drip in your taps.
2.) Check out the roof and make repairs
Snow is beautiful, but it belongs outside of your home! A leaky roof can result in costly interior damage, as well as the increased expense for utilities to keep your home warm and dry. During the fall, visually inspect your roof, looking for missing shingles, cracks or gaps, and visible signs of damage. Inside, look in your attic and along ceilings for any signs of water damage or cracked plaster.
3.) Consider getting gutter guards
While you’re looking at your roof, take some time to inspect your gutters and downspouts. Clean your gutters to get rid of loose debris, and make sure that all of your gutters are still properly attached and draining properly. The dangers of clogs are exacerbated by cold weather, which can cause clogs to freeze and weigh gutters down, forcing them to break or pull away from their supports. Autumn is also a great time to consider putting in some gutter guards, which can help stop leaves, branches and other types of outdoor debris from clogging the flow in these important systems.
4.) Check your windows and make updates or replacements
Properly insulated windows are an investment that will keep your heating costs down, while making your house feel warmer and more comfortable, to boot. If your windows are more than 15 years old, it may be time to consider upgrading them for more secure and energy-efficient models. For all windows, check for drafts or cold spots. Before the winter really settles in, it may help to repair weatherstripping and make sure your windows are properly sealed. You could also help insulate your windows with winterproof films, or by adding thermal curtains, designed to trap heat inside.
5.) Fill in cracks or gaps in concrete
Do you have flagstones leading the way to your front door? If you notice that the paved areas around your property are showing signs of wear and tear, fall is a great time to fill in the cracks. Salting your driveway and walkways in the winter can be corrosive, so it’s important to keep up with maintenance to save yourself some money. Before the winter weather comes bearing down, patch up large gaps or splinters, and be sure to keep these surfaces clean and tidy throughout the year.
6.) Paint interior rooms
Interior painting can be done any time of the year. With that being said, painting often requires a healthy flow of air and lots of ventilation — which is easier to achieve when you can open windows and doors as much as possible, which is not always workable in the wintertime. For this reason, you may want to make it a goal to tackle your home painting to-do list in the fall, when you can still take advantage of open windows and lots of natural lighting.
7.) Move your summer furniture, decor, and equipment indoors
During the summer, spring, and fall, your home’s outdoor entertaining areas might be full of furniture, plants, decorative items, and appliances, like grills or sprinklers. While these items may be able to handle warm days and spring showers, they may not fare so well in the biting cold of a Chicagoland winter. If possible, store your grills, sprinklers, patio furniture, and other summer tools in a covered shed or garage. Consider bringing houseplants and outdoor decor items inside, as well. If some items are too big or bulky to move, consider wrapping them in weatherproof coverings for the season.
8.) Inspect your deck and patio
As you bring in your patio furniture, do a sweep to get rid of loose leaves and debris. At the same time, look for any cracked or splitting wood in the floor or railings of your deck. If anything looks broken, patch it up, and consider re-sealing your deck, as well. The cold weather can cause wood to dry out and lead to even worse damage. Similarly, look for water damage, mold, and other problems that may only get worse over the damp and dreary winter months ahead.
9.) Make sure your home is properly insulated
Proper insulation is one of the keys to a healthy, happy, and comfortable winter. Before the freezing temperatures set in, you can take some proactive steps to prevent cold drafts by checking your home’s insulation. It may be time to bring in a professional to install additional insulation in strategic areas throughout your home, such as the attic or basement. You can also help prevent drafts by sealing small cracks in your home’s foundation and walls, and adding weatherstripping to doors and windows.
10.) Take care of your HVAC systems
Before the big freeze arrives, take some time to make sure your home’s heating systems will be up to the challenge! The fall is a great time to have your home’s heating elements professionally inspected and serviced. There are also plenty of everyday steps you can take around the house, including making sure your vents are clean and ready to use, and swapping out your furnace filters to promote a robust, clean flow of air. The fall is also a great time to inspect your home’s smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and replace their batteries, as needed. You can also use this time to research potential green updates that may help you save on your winter utility bills, such as adding a smart, programmable thermostat to your home.
Make it a wonderful winter with Baird & Warner
Ready for a space with the fireplace of your dreams? Looking for a driveway that cuts your shoveling time in half? We get you. At Baird & Warner, we believe that buying or selling a home should be easier — even in the middle of an ice cold Chicagoland winter. Get your search started today, powered by the support of Chicagoland’s largest independent and family-owned real estate brokerage.