How to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Now that the weather is starting to get colder, it’s time to think about preparing your home for winter. Even though here in East Tennessee it doesn’t always get too cold in the winter, it certainly reaches a point that requires some home maintenance.

With just a few simple tips, you can make sure that your home doesn’t have any major problems as the temperature continues to drop.

Take a look at your furnace

If you have a furnace, make sure to call an HVAC specialist that can come out and inspect your furnace and clean out your ducts. Of course, don’t forget to also stock up on furnace filters and swap them out each month.

Don’t forget to move any material away from your furnace that you might have placed on or near it during the warmer months.

Additionally, if you heat your home with a hot-water radiator,  bleed the values. This consists of opening them slightly until water begins to come out, then closing them again.

This can help make sure that nothing goes wrong so you can stay warm and toasty even when the weather outside is brisk.

Double check all doors and windows

Almost everything regarding your doors and windows can be completed on your own, but a few will require a professional.

First, walk around the inside and outside of your home to make sure there aren’t any cracks or exposed areas around pipes or openings. If there are, seal them up. You should also look at the weatherstripping around your doors. If any doors bordering outside don’t have weatherstripping, add it. If, on the other hand, any of them seem slightly destroyed, replace them.

Another simple fix to make sure your house stays warm and you don’t waste money on heating costs is to re-caulk any windows that could use it. Caulk is economical to buy, simple to use, and can help keep a lot of heat inside your house.

Of course, if you have any cracks in your windows or ones that don’t close properly, it would be prudent to simply replace the glass or window completely. Additionally, installing storm windows if you have them can help keep the heat inside your home.

Pad pipes

If your pipe freezes in the winter, it could potentially burst, causing a lot damage and costing you quite a bit of money. You can avoid this by buying some tubular pipe insulation sleeves from any hardware store.

Then, cover all exposed pipes in unheated areas, including the attic, basement, and crawl space. Make sure you also cover the bends and joints and seal the seams with duct tape.

You should be able to accomplish this simple task yourself as the sleeves aren’t difficult to apply and can be easily cut to fit your specific pipes. With this, you’ll be able to conserve energy while saving yourself from potentially damaging and costly water damage.

Prepare your fireplace

First, make sure you have a screen at the top of your chimney so rodents and birds don’t sneak into your warm house. I know from personal experience that birds can make a nest inside of your unused fireplace, so don’t skip this step.

Then, call a chimney sweep to get rid of all that soot at creosote so you have a more efficient fireplace and take a look at the fireplace damper to guarantee it has a proper opening and closing, sealing tightly.

You should also make sure there aren’t any cracks in your fireplace or broken bricks or crumbling mortar on the outside. If so, fix it.

Another good idea is to stock up on firewood and make sure you have a lot of wood chopped in advance. This way, as long as you store it in a dry place far from the exterior of your home, you won’t be forced to go outside in the freezing cold and chop of the firewood you need.

Inspect your roof, gutters, and downspouts

First, it’s always a good idea to add extra insulation to your attic if the weather gets below freezing in the winter. This way, not only will you keep your home warmer, but you’ll prevent warm air from getting to your roof, potentially causing ice dams.

You should replace all worn roof shingles or tiles and double check flashing to make sure water can’t get into your house. Then, while you should make sure that your gutters and downspouts are clean all year round, this is especially important in the winter.

If your gutters are clogged and block the drainage of rain and melted snow, this can cause leaks and damage to your home. They become particularly cluttered in the autumn with the falling leaves, so it’s important to keep on top of this before winter.

You can make sure that the entire system is unclogged and leak free by running water through it.

Double check all of your weather-specific equipment

This one isn’t very necessary for your home but is very useful when cold winter temperatures roll around.

Take a look at your snow blower and fix it if it isn’t working, find your snow shovel and rake and replace them if necessary, and buy bags of salt for your driveway in case it’s frozen and you need to drive somewhere.

Check your foundation

First, make sure you rake all debris away from your foundation. Then, check the perimeter and make sure you seal any small holes to keep out small animals and rodents searching for warmth in the winter. Even if you think a foundation crack is too small for a mouse to fit through, seal it. You’d be surprised.

Then, secure all crawlspace entrances and inspect sill plates for pest infestation or dry rot.

After these tips, you’ll keep your home warm and trouble-free all winter long.

Michele Karl is the Owner/Broker of Priority Real Estate. She can be reached at her email at [email protected] or give her a call at her office at 865-577-6600.


How to make the most of your home’s storage

No matter how big your home is, you’re always going to feel like there isn’t enough storage space. Between storing clothes from different seasons, holiday decorations, cleaning supplies, toys, and all of the other important items, your home might just be full to the point of breaking.

If you’re curious about how to make sure that your bathroom isn’t a pig sty and all those sheets will fit in your closet, read on.

Get rid of clutter

I know this probably isn’t what you want to hear; buying an extra closet or storage space would be a whole lot easier than getting rid of all of your clutter, but if you really want to maximize your storage space, it’s necessary.

Go through not only your main closets, but all of those drawers and hidden closets that you try to pretend don’t exist until you have to stuff something else in them.

Organize everything in donate, sell, and trash piles, then actually follow through with the pile. Throw the trash away right away. Take all your donations to a great non-profit that very day. Take pictures of your clothes to sell and put them online or organize and plan a yard sale.

If you get rid of all of the things that aren’t actually useful to you anymore, you’ll already be amazed at the extra storage space you didn’t know that you had.

Don’t forget vertical spaces

Sometimes, you’re so used to organizing things on shelves that you forget that there’s a lot more space in your home. Hanging things from the ceiling can be stylish and helps you utilize a lot more space.

For example, a hanging pot rack can help your kitchen achieve a great look while also freeing up your cabinets. If you’re worried about purchasing a home without much kitchen storage space, don’t forget hanging pot racks.

Another option to remember for smaller kitchens is a hanging spice rack. This can go on the inside of a cabinet door, allowing you to put all of your spices away in an organized fashion without having to worry about taking up your valuable storage space!

It’s hard to overstate how much space you can save with a few hanging shoe racks. These go on the back of doors and, of course, hold shoes. However, this isn’t all.

These over-the-door hanging shoe organizers are also perfect for a bathroom that doesn’t give you enough counter or cabinet space. You can put makeup, hairbrushes, deodorant, curling irons, and everything else you could need to use in these individual pockets.

That way, you can stay clean and organized while utilizing a small space.

Hidden furniture

If you don’t have much space, practically every piece of furniture you buy should double as storage. The best you buy should have drawers underneath; your couch should be hollow inside to put games, blankets, and anything else you need away.

The places where these are most important are the living room and entryway as they typically get full of clutter the quickest. If you don’t have space for any furniture in your entryway, make sure you mount some hooks on the wall for jackets and hats.

Additionally, if your family is one to remove shoes right away, you should invest in a small, vertical, shoe rack so they aren’t scattered all over the ground.

Shelves, shelves, shelves

Shelves can be helpful everywhere. Do you have a child with a lot of school books and nowhere to put them? Build some shelves on the wall in their bedroom. Need a place to put your keys, wallet, phone, and change when you get home from work? A shelf in the entryway will do the trick!

Shelves are also very useful in your laundry room so you can place detergent, stain removers, bleach, and anything else you use, up on the wall to free space for you to fold and sort your clothes.

Of course, kitchens can also greatly benefit from more shelves. You should certainly use as many vertical storage tricks as possible in your kitchen, like the hanging spice racks, but it’s also nice to have some more shelves for things like olive oil, salt, pepper, and other essentials.

Another place where large shelves are essential is the garage. On these shelves, you can store luggage, off-season clothes, decorations, and more. Also, they can help you stay more organized than searching your way through numerous boxes all over your garage.

Shelves built on the walls effectively gives you a lot more places to organize your things, even if your house or the house you’re considering buying doesn’t come with much space.

Buy some organizers

Do you already have a closet organizer? Because if not, you should. These were specifically built to help people utilize their small closet space, making it much more organized and useful. A closet organizer can really help you see the space you’re misusing from lack of organization.

Also, vacuum storage bags are lifesavers for when you need to store a lot of off-season clothes and you don’t have many places to put them. With these bags, you can use a vacuum to suck out the extra air inside the clothes and bags, making them much smaller than they could otherwise be.

From here, you can store them on one of those shelves you built in your garage, or simply stash them under your bed until it’s time to open them up again.

Everyone wants more space

Don’t let a home without enough cabinets or drawers prevent you from buying it. Almost everyone has a problem with not having enough storage space.

Luckily, though, this means that many, many inventions were made to help people with this problem. From desk organizers to hidden space inside of an ottoman, take advantage of everything that you can to help you utilize the small space.

Michele Karl is the Owner/Broker of Priority Real Estate. She can be reached at her email at [email protected] or give her a call at her office at 865-577-6600.