Now’s the Time to Winterize Your Home

Nobody wants to think about winter yet, but taking steps now to get your house ready for winter can save you money and keep your family safe and warm.

Start at the top, says Mike Callahan, President of Comfort 1st Installation, 612 Harrison Ave., who manages a group of energy performance contractors.

“Check the attic for adequate ventilation and insulation,” he says. “About 90 percent of homes are under-insulated, which can cause energy loss and frozen pipes.”

This is also a good time of year to have the roof checked for loose and missing shingles, and to make sure vent stacks and chimneys are well-sealed. Gutters full of leaves can damage the roof, siding and wood trim. When water gets backed up, it freezes into ice dams that can destroy the roof and cause water to leak indoors.

If you have a woodburning stove or fireplace, have it inspected and cleaned to remove the buildup of creosote, nests, and anything else that shouldn’t be in a chimney, says Brad Vander Heyden, president of Advanced Chimney Systems, 3486 Lonergan Dr., Rockford. Inspectors check all chimney parts, including the liner, damper, bricks, cap and spark screen, to ensure they’re in place and in good condition.

“A creosote buildup is dangerous because it could lead to a chimney fire or, in rare cases, cause a house to catch on fire,” Vander Heyden says.

When it comes to preparing for cold temperatures, weather stripping for doors and plastic for windows offer a lot of bang for the buck, says Paul Nicholson of Nicholson Hardware, 1131 2nd Ave.

“You can usually hear or feel air leaks in windows and a plastic cover over windows from the inside is very effective, especially in older homes, where windows may not be the most energy efficient,” Nicholson says.

“Doors are very important because they’re constantly being opened and closed,” he adds. “Most people can tell if weather stripping is worn and needs to be replaced or if the rubber seal is cracked and gaps are evident.” ❚