Sometimes I get overwhelmed with everything I need to do to get my house ready for the winter. But I love my house and want to keep it in tip-top shape. That's why I made a list of all the chores I need to do before I settle in by the fireplace.
Making a List, Checking it Yearly
I turned my list into a checklist, and every year I use the same checklist. It not only keeps me on track for that year, it gives me a record of everything I've done in past years to winterize my home. Plus, completing the checklist makes me feel good!
The Top Seven Chores
Here are seven of the most important chores I check off before I put my house to bed for the winter.
- Smoke detectors. I always change the batteries in all my smoke detectors during the weekend that the time changes. It's what I do with part of that extra hour we get on Sunday morning. You're right, the battery may not be dead yet, but I'd rather play it safe and be sure my smoke detectors are in good working order. Same goes for carbon monoxide monitors if you have them.
- Snow removal. Whether you plan to snow-blow or shovel your driveway and walkway or pay someone to do it, make sure your plan is in place. Just because the teenager next door shoveled your walk last year doesn't mean he or she plans to do it this year. If, like me, you hire someone to plow, make sure you are on the list. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, check out all your tools and service your equipment before the snows fall. Stack up on ice melt before the stores run out.
- Outdoor furniture. Clean your outdoor furniture and store it under cover. Even though it's designed for outdoor use, cold winter weather is hard on the furniture. If you have a wood outdoor storage bench like I do, it's a good time to clean out the hoses and cushions and whatever else you have stored inside.
- Emergency kit. Every winter I restock my household emergency kit. I stock up on new batteries for the flashlight and radio and make sure no one borrowed the blankets, first-aid kit, or multi-purpose tool. I freshen up the drinking water and make sure I have a minimum of one gallon for every person in my household for at least three days.
- Heating. I heat with wood, so I make sure I have plenty of dry, seasoned wood where I can easily get to it—even in a snowstorm. A furnace should be cleaned and serviced annually. Chimney fires can be disastrous, so make sure your chimney is clean.
- Storm doors and windows. I replace summer screens with storm doors and windows as soon as I start to heat the house. The cleaner the windows the sunnier your house will be, so I take this opportunity to wash all the glass, inside and out.
- Air leaks. You may not be able to see the cracks and openings, but small spaces around the dryer vent, the cable outlet, windows, and doors welcome in cold air. It's easy to seal around these potential air leaks with caulk and a caulking gun, and saves a ton of money.
Relax and Enjoy
When I'm done with my chores I feel like I have taken good care of the home I love. I can relax into the quiet of winter knowing all is well.
Stan Horst prepares for winters in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where he lives with his wife and two children. As a former cabinet and furniture maker he takes great pride in his Kingsley Bate patio furniture. When he's not enjoying nature with his family, Stan runs a cabin rental business.