In Chicago, there are two key things being able to open the windows in the summer and keep the cold air out in the winter which is coming in fast. So many times we get calls when it's really cold for repairs and fixes that go unnoticed until the artic air comes rolling in. And it's not just cold air you need to worry about. You must consider protecting your home from the weight and water of snow.
This year, we encourage you to see where cold air is coming from now to prevent a 911 need when it's the coldest. Getting it done now will save money on energy bills and potential crisis in the dead of winter.
Follow this Checklist to see if you're prepared for winter - the cold and the wet.
Roofing - if you've been waiting to get your roof replaced, get it done. An aged roof may give way under heavy snow causing potential water damage to your home and a whole web of other expensive after effects.
Windows - it's no secret that replacing old windows with efficient windows can save you loads of money on electric and heating bills. However, sometimes the seal needs to be addressed and improved. A relatively quick fix but if you're windows are older, you might need to consider replacing them. Again, this will save you tons of money on energy bills in the long run. [Expert tip: invest in thermal curtains]
Doors - air will always come through nooks and crannies in doors and seals. A nice door draft protector is helpful but cumbersome. If you are relying on a draft dodger all of the time, you might want to have your door and jam looked at to see how you can get a better seal.
Decks - oh how we love our decks in the summertime but they do require maintenance. Gone untreated over long periods of time can cause mold, warping and instability that can cause damage and become a safety liability. Make sure your deck is treated regularly and can manage the weight of a heavy snow. Big, wet snow, can add hundreds of pounds to your deck and the pressure can weaken it over time. Now is the time to have a professional check it out.
HVAC - there is nothing worse than the heat going out in the dead of winter in Chicago. You should always plan to have your HVAC system looked at twice a year - once for heating and once for cooling. This ensures that your system is running smoothly and efficiently and an expert can diagnose any potential future problems that allow you to save when the time comes to replace the system. [Expert tip: make sure that your thermostat is new and works efficiently. This is a relatively inexpensive fix to save on winter heat bills]
Fireplace - it's a comical scene for on watchers but not the person responsible for opening the flue on the fireplace only to be doused with soot. There are many reasons to make sure your fireplace is cleaned annually. This is one of them, the other is to improve the air quality. When a fireplace is covered in soot, when lit, it can send that back into the air and into your home. It's always worth an inspection and good cleaning.
Pipe Check! There is nothing worse than a burst pipe in the winter. Now is the time to evaluate your home and identify where your pipes are. If they live on an outside wall, make a note to always leave a faucet dripping and do it before temps drop below zero. It's key to get the water flowing before and during really cold temperature days to reduce the odds of burst pipes and consequential water damage.
These tips are the best, basic tips for making sure that your home is winterized every year to save you money and headaches later.