The Complete Guide & Checklist To Prepare Your Home for Your First Lancaster Winter

Your home is the most significant investment of all. And to protect that investment, you know it’s best to perform some routine home maintenance from time to time. In fact, most experts suggest tackling these homeowner to-do lists every season.

Getting your Lancaster home ready for the winter will require such a maintenance to-do roster. You’re in luck because we’ve compiled the ultimate guide for preparing your home for the Lancaster winter checklist.

Clean Your Lancaster Home’s Gutters

You might presume that with the fall season in the rearview mirror, you don’t have to worry about gutters clogging during the winter. But there are a few reasons to have your gutters cleaned and evaluated before the snow flies this year in Lancaster. One of the first items on your winterizing your home checklist needs to give your gutters and downspouts proper attention.

Any debris clogging your drainage now will cause a disproportionate flow of water when all that winter snow melts next spring. Water that doesn’t drain away from your house and foundation could cause damage or result in spring leaks. Cleaning your gutters now will reveal any damage or rust that needs to be addressed as well. The experts suggest running downspouts at least six feet away from the foundation for proper flow.

Winterizing Pools & Patios

Obviously, if you have a pool or outdoor spa, you’ll want to properly winterize them before the freezing temperatures arrive. But there are a few extra steps you may need to take to finalize your winterization prep for a pool and patio area. Be sure to secure any furniture, firepit, or grille equipment you don’t plan to use this winter in a dry, protected storage area. At the very least, you can bring in any rugs or cushions and cover the remaining items to prevent moisture intrusion or potential rust.

Sealing & Caulking Exteriors

Take the time to walk around your Lancaster home and look for cracks or openings in the foundation, seals, or exterior wood components. As needed, you can protect these vulnerable areas with a fresh coat of paint, caulking, or spray foam insulation. Filling these voids and preserving these surfaces now will help protect against further damage caused by freezing temperatures now and melting snow next spring.

Winterizing Sprinkler Systems, Hoses & Spigots

If you have a lawn system of sprinklers, you’ll want to winterize those before the temperatures drop. Most systems will require the lines to be “blown out,” which is a common step for a professional. It’s much cheaper to preserve these lawn watering mechanisms with a contractor than it is to replace them next spring after a frozen line burst over the winter.

You’ll want to drain and disconnect any garden hoses and secure them in the garage or tool shed for the winter. Any outdoor faucets or spigots fixed to your Lancaster home will also need to be drained. You can then turn off the valve to the outside line to prevent freezing and bursting. These pipes will expand and contract when water is present, which can lead to serious damage associated with blown seals and split pipes.

Tree & Limb Trimming

If you’re not careful about low-hanging tree limbs or weakened branches on your property, you should prepare to deal with them on the ground after the first heavy Lancaster snow this winter. Consider hiring a professional if you need to, for making quick work of branches now. It will be a lot more convenient to trim now than calling the insurance company about a fallen branch on your car or roof damage later.

Schedule a Chimney Sweep

The fall months are best for making that call to your local chimney sweep. You won’t want to fire up a fireplace for the holidays without adequately cleaning the flue and having the unit inspected. It’s an important step in preparing your home for winter as a fire safety precaution.

Test All Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

While we’re on the subject of safety, now is a good time to go ahead and change out the batteries in your Lancaster home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Check to ensure they’re fully operational as well. You’ll want these positioned throughout your house, at central hallways and common areas for each floor.

Heating Systems & Furnace Filters

Every winterize your home checklist has a reminder to service any heating and furnace equipment during the fall. Before the frigid cold temperatures set in, you’ll want to be sure your furnace is operating as intended and without issue. Having an HVAC contractor come out for a seasonal inspection can also ensure your home’s airflow and ductwork are free-flowing. At the very least, make sure your furnace filter is replaced.

Plumbing & Insulation

Some of the worst wintertime homeowner horror stories result from frozen indoor plumbing. And the HGTV gurus have some tips for helping prevent these instances of flooding basements, cascading waterfalls from ceiling tiles, and wall-running steady drips. 

As the Lancaster temperatures drop below freezing, keep this plumbing checklist handy:

  1. Leave the cabinet doors below the kitchen sink open to allow warm air from the room to flow through them.

  2. To warm the walls and pipes, place a 60-watt light bulb in the area where there is a problem. Make sure no flammable materials are within three feet of the bulb.

  3. Close and seal any foundation vents within a few feet of water pipes with solid foam insulation.

  4. Insulate the foundation walls and floor joist ends with rigid foam insulation.

  5. If the crawl access is within the house, install a fan in the doorway to blow heated air from the home to the foundation. When utilizing a fan, keep in mind that it's not recommended for use inside an unheated garage or outside of the property.

  6. If the pipes in your home's exterior wall are freezing, cut a hole in the wall to expose them to warm air inside. Behind the pipes, install fiberglass insulation between them and the house's outside wall. The hole in the wall may later be covered with a hinged door or a removable panel during cold periods.

  7. Insulate the outside walls of the house. Caulk and seal around doors, windows, home faucets, and exterior outlets.

Windows, Doors & Drafts, Oh My!

Some of your windows and doors may not seal as tightly as they once did. Years of warm and cold weather, causing expansion and shrinking of materials can present drafty gaps. You’ll want to find these trouble spots and take care of them before the temps dip below freezing this winter.

Winterizing your Lancaster home properly also means checking for broken glass, broken seals, and weatherstripping on your windows. Examine doorways and window frames to make repairs as necessary. You will also want to swap out screen doors for storm doors and window screens with storm window treatments.

Winterizing Summer Outdoor Equipment

One of the winterize your home checklist items that gets frequently overlooked is the proper storage of any summer lawn and garden equipment. Don’t just park the old trusty lawnmower. Also, take the extra step to drain any gasoline. Gas does have a shelf life, and expired fuel can clog filters or cause your small engines damage. You can use fuel stabilizers in your mowers, leaf blowers, and power washers. It may even help to use antifreeze for those pressure washers, too.

Preparing Winter & Snow Supplies

While you’re putting away your spring and summer equipment, go ahead and bust out the winter gear. Preparing your home for winter also means preparing the tools you’ll need to contend with the Lancaster snow and ice. Fire up the snowblower and make sure it’s running correctly. Find your snow shovels and last year’s bag of salt for the sidewalks. Having them ready now means not having to search or unpack them when you need them.

Check for Nesting Critters

You’re not the only one preparing for the Lancaster winter. Critters and animals are also bedding down for hibernation and warmth for the chilly months ahead. Part of your winterization process should include inspecting common areas for critters who may be tempted to take up residence. Look in the attic and in crawl spaces. Check for loose soffit and fascia that might present an entryway opportunity for squirrels or birds. Use screens to block openings. If you stumble across early adopters, call in the professionals to evict them.

As you’re doing a walkaround and preparing your Lancaster home for the upcoming winter, take this checklist with you. And should you decide it’s time to find a new home altogether, let Homeway Real Estate help!

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