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  • Sally Norton

Cleaning Tips to Prepare Your Home for the Winter Months

a grey house exterior covered in snow
Prepare your home for the winter

Winterizing your home is essential to ensure a comfortable and energy-efficient season while protecting your property from potential damage. Unfortunately, your weekly cleaning routine will not be enough to prepare your home for the winter. Therefore, this comprehensive guide covers all the necessary steps you should take.

Exterior Home Cleaning

If you own a big house, you can consider hiring professional cleaners to clean your home’s exterior. On the other hand, here’s how you can do it yourself.

Cleaning and Inspecting Gutters and Downspouts

Your gutters and downspouts are vital in preventing ice dams that can cause roof damage and leaks. 

Start by removing leaves, debris, and gunk from your gutters. You can use your hands or a specialized scoop for this task. Flush your gutters and downspouts with a garden hose to ensure they are clear of any remaining debris. While cleaning, inspect your gutters for leaks, loose brackets, or sagging sections. Address any issues promptly. Consider installing gutter guards to minimize future debris buildup and make maintenance easier.

Power Washing the Exterior

Before winter sets in, thoroughly cleaning your home's exterior can remove dirt, grime, and mold buildup.

a water battery with a hose
Garden hoses left outside during the winter can freeze and become damaged.

Choose the right power washer for your specific cleaning needs. Different surfaces may require different pressure settings and nozzle types. Always wear protective gear, including safety goggles and gloves, to protect yourself from debris and high-pressure water. Select an appropriate cleaning solution for different surfaces to maximize efficiency. Start power washing from a safe distance and gradually move closer to the surface to achieve the desired cleanliness without causing damage.

Cleaning and Storing Outdoor Furniture

If you have outdoor furniture, it's essential to clean and store it properly to protect your investments from winter weather damage. However, if you don’t have enough room in your garage or attic, City Movers Miami recommends renting storage. Still, before moving your outdoor furniture into storage, you should follow these steps to ensure it remains in good condition:

Remove leaves, debris, and gunk from your gutters before the winter.Alt tag: gutters on house exterior

  • Wicker and rattan: Remove dirt and dust with a brush or vacuum cleaner. You can use a mild detergent and water solution, rinse thoroughly, and allow to dry.

  • Metal: Remove rust, treat with soapy water, rinse, and apply a coat of outdoor metal paint or sealant.

  • Wood: Clean with a mixture of water and mild detergent. Use a teak sealer for hardwoods like teak to protect against moisture and UV damage.

  • Fabric cushions: Machine or hand wash fabric cushions and allow them to dry thoroughly before storing.

Winterizing Your Plumbing

Insulating Exposed Pipes

Frozen pipes are a common winter woe that can result in costly repairs and water damage. To prevent this:

  • Using foam pipe insulation sleeves or tape, insulate exposed pipes in unheated areas like basements, crawlspaces, and attics. Seal any gaps or cracks in walls or foundations that allow cold air to reach your pipes.

Draining and Storing Garden Hoses

Garden hoses left outside during the winter can freeze and become damaged. To avoid this, disconnect hoses from outdoor faucets and drain them completely. Coil hoses loosely to prevent kinks and store them in a dry, protected area like a garage or shed.

Preparing Your Yard and Landscaping

Raking Leaves and Debris

Raking leaves and debris from your yard enhances its appearance and prevents slippery surfaces and potential lawn damage. Composting is an eco-friendly way to turn leaves into valuable compost for your garden. Mulching is an efficient method to shred leaves and return nutrients to the soil using a mulching mower. Municipal pickup services are available in many areas; check with your local government for disposal options.

Pruning Trees and Shrubs

Properly pruning your trees and shrubs before winter can promote healthy growth and prevent winter damage. You should trim branches too close to your home or power lines to avoid potential hazards during winter storms. Remove any diseased or damaged branches to prevent the spread of pests and disease.

Indoor Cleaning and Maintenance

No matter how good your cleaning routine is, setting your home up for winter will require cleaning places you usually neglect. So, here are some suggestions for indoor cleaning and maintenance.

Checking and Cleaning the Heating System

A well-maintained heating system is crucial for keeping your home warm during the winter. To prepare your home for the winter, here's how to ensure the inside of your home is in top shape:

First, regularly check and clean or replace filters in your furnace or heat pump. Clogged filters can reduce efficiency and increase energy consumption. Maintaining and replacing filters is essential to maintain proper airflow and heating capacity. Clean or replace filters every 1-3 months, depending on usage and filter type.

A thermostat on the wall
A well-maintained heating system is crucial for keeping your home warm during the winter.

Sealing Gaps and Cracks

Preventing drafts and heat loss is vital for energy efficiency. Inspect your home for gaps and cracks around windows, doors, and other openings.

Use caulk or weather-stripping to seal gaps and prevent drafts. That helps maintain a consistent indoor temperature and reduces energy consumption. You should also inspect windows and doors for visible gaps or cracks. Also, consider installing door sweeps to seal the gap at the bottom of exterior doors and further reduce heat loss.

Safety Precautions

Checking Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Safety should always be a top priority, especially during the winter when the risk of house fires and carbon monoxide leaks can increase. Here's how to ensure your detectors are working correctly:

  • Ensure a safe indoor environment. Functional smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are essential for early warning in emergencies.

  • Replace batteries or devices if needed. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are functioning correctly. Next, replace batteries annually and replace the detectors as the manufacturer recommends, typically every ten years.

Assembling an Emergency Kit

Winter storms can sometimes lead to power outages and difficult travel conditions. Having an emergency kit on hand can help you stay safe and comfortable during such situations:

  • Essential items to have on hand: An emergency kit should include flashlights, batteries, non-perishable food, bottled water, a first-aid kit, blankets, and a portable phone charger.

  • Preparing for power outages: If you just moved into a new home, consider investing in a backup power source. A generator or portable power bank will help you keep essential devices charged and your home running smoothly during outages.

Conclusion on How to Prepare Your Home for the Winter

If you want to prepare your home for the winter, you’ll need to take a few days and thoroughly clean it. Following these steps to prepare your home for winter, you can enjoy a comfortable, safe, and energy-efficient season while safeguarding your property from potential damage. Don't wait; start your winterization efforts today, and your home will thank you when the cold weather arrives.

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