Preparing Your Home For The Winter In Michigan
This blog is a direct transcript from the video below. This comes in 3 versions: You are able to watch the video, read the blog for your convenience or listen to the audio experience (which is linked under the video below).
If you’re in Michigan like me, it’s safe to say that once the white stuff hits the ground, all productivity is tremendously turned down as we brace for the cold. In this blog, I want to break down 17 things to keep in mind to prepare your home for the winter.
I am going to tackle some things you’ll want to consider to make your home winter proof, as neglect to a few of these items will definitely cause more harm than good. Not only to your home, but your wallet too.
Jumping into number 1, this is something most people never think about during the snowy season and that’s having an entryway plan. Tracking snow and mud into your home will not exactly do your floors justice. So consider getting some rubber mats and a nice rug that can handle the conditions, your floors will thank you.
Number 2, Do you have ceiling fans by chance? Yes I know you’re wondering why I’m asking because why would you use them in the winter. Hear me out though. Ceiling fans have a switch on them to change the direction it spins, if you switch it to clockwise, it will help push the hot air down, as heat rises. Especially if you have a crawl space and your floors get extremely cold, this could help that situation a little. You don’t need to put it on full blast either.
Number 3, tuning up your heating systems. There would be nothing worse than your furnace or boiling dying in the middle of the winter because you neglected to take a look at it. It depends on your heating system of course, but if yours is questionable, it wouldn’t hurt to have someone come out and take a look at it before you run it on a daily basis.
CARE FOR YOUR A/C
Number 4, Covering your A/C unit. I just got my A/C put in a couple months ago, and I was told to get it covered for the winter season. Most people think you need to throw a thick grill-like cover over it, but you actually don’t for a couple reasons. Reason one, you don’t want critters making it a home in there and reason two, your A/C needs some air flow, so placing a piece of wood like OSB on the top with a few bricks is an adequate plan of action. It wouldn’t hurt to clear away the snow and debris around it throughout the season too.
WINDOWS AND DOORS
Number 5, Check your windows and doors for air drafts. This will definitely save you money on your heating bill. Use weather-stripping and caulk to ensure there’s no air coming in. Also, if you notice your windows are cold sitting next to them, consider buying the Duck brand window insulation kit for $12 or so for 62 x 420” of plastic that will help with that. Inexpensive and a way to help with your heating bill as well.
Number 6, Clean your gutters. I promise you this isn’t just cosmetics. Clearing all debris from your gutters will actually allow the melted snow to drain properly and not cause issues to your gutters or roof.
DO A WALKABOUT
Number 7, Check for any dead or harmful branches surrounding your home. If you haven’t noticed, snow is pretty heavy and when it sticks to branches it tends to sag a lot. Think ahead and prevent those branches from doing any harm to your home, because if you’re in Michigan or any Northern region like I am it’s not if it’ll happen, it’s when.
WATER IS KILLER
Number 8, This goes right along with the importance of cleaning your gutters, and it’s diverting water correctly with extensions. You and I both know that downspouts are ugly, there’s no appeal to having these huge extensions at every corner of the house, but understand it’s an okay time to be ugly. Make sure the extensions are far enough from your home that water won’t cause damage to your foundation. In the Spring you can get fancy and run them underground with proper drainage, but for right now it’s about tackling everything on this list so you can focus on fun snowy adventures instead of worrying about the condition of your home all winter.
Number 9, Cover your foundation vents. You can go to Home Depot and get some foam board insulation. It’s that Pink stuff with the panther on it. I know you know what I’m talking about. You can cut them to size and place them against your vents on the inside. This will do a couple things, It will keep your home well insulated especially if you have a crawl space so your floors aren’t so cold, and it’s beneficial for all the pipes down there so they don’t freeze. Just be sure to remove them in the spring as you’ll want some air flow down there as moisture will hurt the wood down there. Also, if your crawl space access is in the house, you can also aim a fan toward the open to blow warm air toward the foundation.
Number 10, right along with covering the foundation vents for your pipes safety, be sure to take other necessary precautions if there’s a concern about your pipes freezing. Such as: keeping your lower cabinet doors open on all your faucets to ensure they’re getting some air flow, placing a lamp with a 60-watt bulb next to any walls or pipes to keep them warm, and simply insulate all pipes with fiberglass insulation.
CRACKS AND DEBRIS
Number 11, this needs to be a mandatory thing to do in preparation for the colder months, and that’s checking for cracks and debris in the chimney. You probably don’t use your fireplace at all until now, so you have no idea what family of animals or whatever has been stashed in there all year long. All of that is a fire hazard, and I’m sure the last thing you want to do is blow up your house right before winter. So it wouldn’t be the worst idea to have a chimney sweep out to take a look. Better safe than sorry!
Number 12, turn off your exterior faucets. This is huge! Walk your home and locate any outdoor faucets, disconnect hoses and drain out any left over water so it doesn’t freeze in your hose and cause damage. Turn off the water at the shut off valve and turn the outdoor faucets on to drain any remaining water. Then remove the bleeder cap to remove any excess water. Be sure to place a bucket under it so it doesn’t cause a mess. Put the bleeder cap back on and turn the outdoor faucets off. It only takes 6 or so hours for pipes to freeze, so it’s in your best interest to not neglect this step!
WATER HEATER & IRRIGATION SYSTEMS
Number 13, Drain your water heater sediment and lawn irrigation system. Sediment will collect in the bottom of your water heater that can cause premature failure and your heating unit to fail. Draining your water heater will not only save its life, but your energy bill too. All you have to do is connect a hose to your water heater, and flip the valve, and let it drain. Make sure you get all the excess water out of the hose so it doesn’t freeze! As far as your lawn irrigation system, the drainage depends on your drain valves. Are they automatic or manual? Automatic drain valves will drain when you shut off the main valve and open the drain cap. With manual you’ll cut off the water and open all the manual drain valves for a few days to ensure all the water is drained out.
MOW YOUR LEAVES!
Number 14, Mow your leaves don’t rake them. Seems a little goofy doesn’t it? There’s a method to this madness. Everyone is always in a hurry to get leaves off their lawn because they are worried about them killing their grass, but in reality if you mulch the leaves, which a lot of mowers have the option of doing will create nutrition for your lawn and improve the soil, along with decrease the chances of dandelions by creating a nice nitrogen-rich fertilizer for your lawn.
Number 15, Don’t forget to winterize all your lawn care toys. Add a stabilizer to your gas tank and gas cans to keep the gas in good condition, drain the gas from the carburetors to ensure there isn’t a blockage so they can start good in the springtime. This is something I often neglect to do for my old dirt bike, and let me tell you, it’s a terrible headache when you’re wanting to play on it, but you first have to tear the bike apart to get it to run as it should.
SUMP PUMP CHECK
Number 16, Test your sump pump. The typical lifespan of a sump pump is roughly 10 years, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need any attention. Especially if it’s running 24/7, you can bet it’s expiration date is coming sooner rather than later. Pour a couple of gallons of water into the hole where your sump pump is located just to make sure it kicks on. A lot of people don’t even know their sump pump engines were burnt out and water starts back flowing and causing a world of issues. So periodically poking your head down there to say hi to it once in awhile isn’t a bad habit to get into.
Number 17, Last and most certainly not least, stock up on your winter essentials and make them readily available so you don’t have to climb over piles of spring and summer things to get to what you need most. I’m trying to make your life easier here is all. Don’t forget about your snow shovels, salt for your sidewalks, porches, and decks, a snow blower, and a roof rake to clear your roof of snow in case you’re house is prone to ice dams.
Well, that was my list to prepare your home for the winter. It may seem like a lot of tasks, but you can knock out everything in a few days if you set your mind to it. It’s times like these where your home needs to be taken care of. So be sure you’re taking the necessary steps to doing just that.
Andrew McManamon is a Michigan REALTOR® with Signature Sotheby’s International Realty and provides real estate services to Buyers, Sellers and Investors throughout SE Michigan including Livingston County, Oakland County, Washtenaw County, Genesee County & beyond. Andrew has become one of the rising stars of Michigan real estate agents. Prior to his real estate career Andrew was responsible for managing a senior living facility in Brighton, Michigan as a dining supervisor and an activities assistant. Andrew’s passion to help people is unlike any other, and he continues to strive to be best resource he can be. Andrew graduated from Cleary University in Howell, Michigan with a double major and currently resides in White Lake, Michigan.