Winter is coming.
Winters in Chicago are legendary for bringing freezing temperatures, blustery winds, and piles of snow. In short? Around here, winter can be rough — and it’s important to take steps to prepare your home ahead of time, before we see the worst that the season has to offer.
And just think: the more time you devote to getting your home ready now, the more time you can focus on staying in and bundling up down the line!
Before we settle in for another frosty winter, it’s important to take on a few key home maintenance tasks, so you and yours can stay safe and warm all season long. Here are a few weather-proofing ideas to add to your list as we all get ready for another Chicago winter:
Winterize Your Indoor and Outdoor Plumbing
Temperatures are about to drop — which means it’s important to take action so your home’s plumbing doesn’t succumb to the deep freeze.
Before the icy Chicago winter really comes around, take some steps to prepare your home’s indoor and outdoor plumbing elements.
Around the outside of your property, be sure to detach all hoses and splitters from bibs and faucets, and turn off exterior faucets and spigots, making sure to drain the water line completely. If you don’t, water stored in the line may freeze and expand, causing the pipe to burst.
Don’t forget that your indoor plumbing may need some TLC, too! Look around your property and consider adding extra insulation to your exposed pipes, and possibly even your water heater; insulation sleeves and water heater “blankets” can be found at most local hardware stores. On particularly frigid days, your parents’ old suggestions might also help. Leave cabinet doors open to expose your pipes to more heat, and leave a gentle drip in your faucets to keep water flowing.
Care for Your Outdoor Furniture, Plants, and Decor
Before the frosty weather settles in, don’t forget to take a walk around your property, “winterizing” what you can, and bringing in what you can’t.
For starters? Don’t forget to take down any window A/C units and store them for the season. During the winter months, these units can allow ice cold drafts to come into your home, making you uncomfortable and raising your utility bills. Meanwhile, the freezing temperatures and harsh winter weather can cause damage to your window unit, which may force you to have to invest in a new one when summer rolls back around. Skip the hassle and bring in your A/C during the fall season.
Similarly, take one last look at outdoor elements, such as your roof, gutters, and downspouts, to check for damage or signs of wear and tear. Store outdoor furniture, appliances, potted plants, and decor items in the garage or a storage shed. If items are too big or bulky to move, you can cover them with winter-proof tarps or blankets, to help prevent damage from the coming snow and ice.
Insulate Windows and Doors
If you want to have a warm and cozy winter, one key step may be to inspect your home’s windows and doors.
Single pane windows are not uncommon on older Chicago homes, and can let in plenty of frigid air during the cold winter months. If you have single-pane windows around your home, look for visible cracks or damage to the seal, or feel around for drafts of cold air. If you notice any problems, there are many different ways you can insulate your windows, from using a window-insulating film, to sealing up cracks with weatherstripping, caulk, or foam. You could even hang thermal curtains to help hold in warm air.
If your home has double-paned glass, look for signs of condensation between the glass panes. This is typically evidence of a broken seal, which allows the gas inside to escape. This reduces the overall efficiency of the window, and should be repaired or replaced before the harshest days of winter come your way.
Similarly, if your doors do not seem to be closing securely, it may be time to add new weatherstripping. If you notice cracks around your door frame, you can help seal these gaps with exterior caulk.
Check Your Home’s Heating System
Whether your home runs on radiator heat or forced air, it’s important to take some time to care for your home’s heating systems — before they really get their winter workout. After all, the last thing you want in the middle of a polar vortex is a heating system that won’t keep you warm!
Plan on getting a yearly furnace or boiler inspection, to help prolong the lifespan of your heating system and keep your energy bills to a minimum. Having a professional inspect and service your system can help ensure that it’s operating at peak efficiency, all season long.
There are plenty of DIY steps you can take, as well — including taking some time to replace your furnace filters. Taking this regular home maintenance step can help improve the air quality in your home, and make sure your HVAC systems are operating efficiently.
This is also a great time of year to look into making some minor smart home upgrades, such as adding a programmable thermostat. Adding a programmable thermostat can give you greater control over the temperature of your home, allowing you to monitor your energy use, easily adjust the temperature throughout the day, and save big on your heating costs. The most sophisticated thermostats are also connected to the Internet, and can even send your phone an alert in the event of a serious issue with your heating system.
Check Your Home’s Fireplace and Alarm Systems
If your idea of the perfect winter day is cozying up next to a roaring fire, be sure to take some time to have your fireplace inspected and cleaned. It’s important to ensure that your home’s chimney and vents are clean, functional, and safe to use. Taking this simple step early in the season can help you avoid the risk of experiencing a house fire, and help prevent carbon monoxide from escaping into your home.
Similarly, remember to regularly check your home’s smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, to ensure that they are working properly. Test your alarm system in the fall, and be sure to replace the battery if necessary. Broadly speaking, you should plan on swapping out the batteries in your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector at least once every six months One way to help make sure you’re keeping up to date is to replace your batteries the same days you adjust your clocks for daylight savings time; twice a year), and replacing your entire alarm system once every five to ten years.
What to Expect with Windy City Home Inspection
Whether you’re buying a property, selling a property, or just need the best information for how to maintain your property, Windy City Home Inspection has an inspection for you.
With Windy City, you can expect a competent, thorough inspection that covers all the bases and never cuts corners. The inspectors at Windy City Home Inspection, Inc are licensed by the State of Illinois, certified, and insured. Each home inspection is backed by our signature Warranty and Protection Plan. Furthermore, we pride ourselves on our superior customer service. If you ever have questions, even years after your home inspection, we will be here to answer them — even if it means returning to your home.
At Windy City Home Inspection, Inc., we perform inspections to the highest standards — yours. Backed by a consulting team with more than 60 years of experience, Windy City Home Inspection is committed to excellence. Have a question? Let us help.