How to Prepare Your Home for the First Freeze
We’ve had a lovely fall in Northern Colorado, with above-average temperatures perfect for pumpkin patch visits and leaf peeping in the mountains. But fall will soon give way to winter. In fact, the first freeze of the season is expected in Fort Collins within the next couple of weeks. Are you ready? Follow this freeze checklist to prepare your home for cold winter weather.
- Seal air leaks: Fall is the perfect time to replace worn-out caulk and weatherstripping around your windows and doors. You can save even more on your heating bills this winter by sealing gaps and cracks around air vents, plumbing, wiring, and other penetrations through your home’s outer envelope.
- Add insulation: The attic is the most cost-effective place to add insulation to an existing home. Not sure if you need more insulation? Open the attic hatch and peer inside with a flashlight. If you can see the floor joists poking through the existing insulation, you could probably benefit from adding more.
- Schedule heating maintenance: Whether you have a furnace, heat pump, or other heating equipment, fall is the time to have it tuned up. Yearly maintenance helps ensure your equipment performs well all season long, keeping your bills down and your comfort level up.
- Replace the furnace filter: The changing season is a great time to put in a fresh air filter. A clean filter promotes proper airflow, reducing wear and tear on your furnace and ensuring even temperatures in every room. Make a habit of checking the filter monthly and replacing it when it appears dirty.
- Shut down the air conditioner: When the 75-degree days finally come to an end, switch your thermostat from “cool” to “heat” and retire your air conditioner for the winter. A common mistake is to cover the outdoor unit with a tarp. However, this promotes rust and gives rodents a place to hide. If you’re worried about icicles or snow falling into the unit, cover it with plywood weighed down with a brick or rock.
- Inspect your fireplace: Plan to inspect and clean your fireplace every year or two, depending on how often you use it each winter. Ignoring this important maintenance could lead to a chimney fire. If you have a gas fireplace, it’s wise to inspect it each fall for operational issues before you really need it in the winter.
- Change carbon monoxide detector batteries: Combustion heating equipment produces carbon monoxide, so winter is the most common time for CO gas leaks. Keep your family safe by changing the batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms.
- Adjust the ceiling fans: Fans don’t just keep you cool in the summer—they also help circulate warm air in the winter. Simply reverse the fan’s direction and run it on low to send heated air back to ground level without creating a draft.
- Know how to shut off the water: Frozen pipes are possible every winter in Colorado. Before a deep freeze hits, find out where your main water shut-off valve is located and how to operate it. Turning off the water reduces property damage if your frozen pipes burst, so every Fort Collins homeowner should know this preventative measure.
- Shut down your sprinkler system: Cold temperatures can cause sprinkler pipes to freeze and burst, resulting in costly repairs next spring. To prevent this, have your sprinkler system blown out before the first freeze. It’s also wise to disconnect and store garden hoses, shut off the water to outdoor spigots, and insulate the hose bibs with polystyrene covers or rags.
- Check the roof: We lucked out with no hailstorms this summer, but there were plenty of windy days last spring that may have damaged your roof. Before the first frost, arrange a roof inspection, and repair any damage that could leak melting snow and ice into your attic this winter.
- Clean the gutters: Leaf litter, pine needles, and other debris in your gutters prevent fall rain and winter snow from draining properly. Clogged gutters can damage the foundation, erode the landscape, dirty the siding, flood the basement, and cause ice dams on the roof. Clean your gutters or hire a company to do it for you while the weather is still relatively warm.
- Trim your trees: Since Colorado often experiences heavy winter snow, fall is the ideal time to trim sick, damaged, or excessive branches. When you do, you reduce the risk of broken branches in the winter and promote healthier trees come spring.
With this first frost checklist, you should feel prepared to take on whatever winter brings. For help getting your heating and plumbing system ready for cold weather, please contact Allen Service at 970-484-4841. We have been a trusted name among Fort Collins homeowners for over 60 years.