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Winter Weather – 2014

Polar Vortex, I miss you. It’s November 14th and your uber-nasty brother, “Bomb Cyclone” is one-upping you by unleashing his icy wrath on most of North America. (As an aside, where do meteorologists come up with these names?!?) Here in Middle Tennessee, where we should still be enjoying falling leaves and cool mornings, it snowed yesterday. Enough to leave a white dusting on the housetops.

The pups and I are not amused. They’re showing their dismay by refusing to leave the warmth of the house and I’m trying to take a slightly more adult approach by staying in my fleece jammies and grumbling on my blog. Sigh. It’s not making me feel a whole lot better, but no one can say the Farmer’s Almanac didn’t warn us. The latest edition predicted a colder and whiter winter in the Eastern half of the country. That’s us, folks and it means it’s time to start thinking about winterizing our homes.

Are you bundled up and ready to begin? Let’s head outside and take an exterior survey. Obviously, winter wreaks havoc on our heating bills, but it can also be brutal on our home’s exterior surfaces, landscaping and lawns. With a little planning and proactive weather-proofing, you can reduce the risk of costly winter home disasters. We’re going to take a top-down approach, beginning with your roof. The single most important thing you can do to protect your roof is to clean your gutters! When gutters are clogged with leaves and debris, they can allow water to back up on the roof. If that water freezes, you’re at risk for ice dams. If you plan to pay someone to clean your gutters, ask them to also check your shingles to make sure they’re in good repair. The key to winter roof maintenance is to ensure that water, snow and ice has somewhere else to go!

Check outdoor vents, electrical boxes and door and window casings. Cold air may be sneaking around gaps in your exterior walls. Even a ½ inch gap (which is equivalent to a two inch hole in your wall!) can have a significant impact on your heating efficiency and costs. If you discover gaps or holes, purchase pre-cut foam gaskets at your local home improvement store. For about 20 cents each, you can quickly seal outlet boxes, switches and vents. Do be careful about vents that may release heat (like gas fireplace exhausts). You do NOT want to cover those types of exhaust vents in any way!

Make sure that your hoses, sprinklers and irrigations systems are turned off for the winter. Hoses should be drained and stored. Even a bit of water left in a hose can freeze and burst. If you have an underground irrigation system, contact your landscaper and ask him or her to winterize your system a.s.a.p. In addition to hoses and watering systems, you should also prepare your lawn equipment for the winter. Lawnmowers should be drained of oil and gasoline and stored in an equipment shed or garage.

Although this doesn’t need to be done every single year, it’s always a good idea to give your driveway a thorough once-over. At least every few years, you need to seal your driveway so that freezing and thawing can’t cause large cracks and fissures.

While you’re bundled up like Nanook of the North and giving your home a little winter TLC, I’ll be sipping hot cocoa and planning another post about interior winterizing. Stay warm and be brave, dear readers and remember: only four months until I can write about hot spring markets!

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