At long last, the summer of 2017 has met its demise. Speaking for myself, this is great news. I love the cold! I love wearing jackets and hoodies outside, and I love wearing blanket capes inside. My ideal morning is spent with black coffee and visible breath while I mumble Harry Nilsson. I don’t think winter is quite what he meant when he said he wanted the weather to suit his clothes, but that’s how I’ve always interpreted it.
My house doesn’t agree with me, though. You know how it is. It’s an old, drafty place with a bad habit of exaggerating the temperature outside. When it’s hot, it’s hot. When it’s cold, it’s COLD. Blanket capes are cool and all, but there’s a difference between being comfortably chilly and freezing to death. There are a couple of things I like to do every winter to make sure my idyllic winter lifestyle doesn’t stray too close to an Alive! situation.
As a window maintenance expert, the first thing I like to check is the weatherseal on all my windows and doors. This is the rubber or felt material that, unsurprisingly, seals out the weather. I can’t oversell this stuff enough: it really is essential. Not only that, but you’d never notice that it’s not working until, one chilly November morning, you wake up as half an icicle. Over time, and with consistent use, weatherseal WILL wear out and stop being useful. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to do a once-over on all your windows and doors to make sure your seal still has some life left in it. Is it brittle and cracked? Is it worn down to a nub? Does it even exist in the first place? These are the questions you’ll need to answer.
While I’m fiddling around with my windows, I like to check my storm windows to make sure they’re functioning properly. Storm windows, if you didn’t know, are the panes of glass you might find behind your window. Not every house has them, but many do, and they do a great job at providing just a little extra insulation. I start by clearing the window channels of any debris or dirt that may hinder my storm window’s movement; that way, I know for sure it will close securely. A lot of storm windows have weatherseal of their own, so you’ll want to check that, as well. It’s also important to check general window hardware like locks, balances, crank operators, rollers, or anything else that helps those things open and close. A healthy window means a warm home.
Speaking of cleaning dirt and debris, you want to make sure you clear your windows, doors, and gutters of leaves. It is the fall, of course, so this may seem like a no-brainer; however, raking your yard is only the start of it. Leaves are going to be blown into every nook and cranny of your house, and they’ll need to be cleaned out. They’ll clog your window and door tracks and, even worse, pack into your downspouts, preventing rain from running off your property normally. It’s definitely a weekend-long project, but you won’t regret ticking it off your list.
Leaves aren’t the only invaders during the fall season. When the cold hits, you’re going to get a lot of critters looking to warm up in your home, especially if you live next to the woods, like me. I’ll never get tired of seeing a group of deer dash through my backyard, but I can live without the grumpy old groundhog trying to burrow into my basement. It’s important to patch holes in any mouldings, window or door frames, or other vulnerable spots, to make sure animals can’t wriggle their way in. Also, make sure to store your patio furniture, so animals don’t nest under them. Any cover is better than no cover, and believe me, those pests will make do. Don’t give ‘em the option.
Other than these specifics tasks, I like to do a general inspection of all the windows in my home, especially those I never use. I’m referring to windows you might find in your basement or attic, or the odd ducks that are somewhat out of reach. If you’re anything like me, you rarely, if ever, look at these things, which probably means nobody has in years. That annoying draft you’ve been feeling all this time could be coming from one of these very windows, and the solution could be as easy as swapping out the weatherseal. It’s worth getting the stepladder out to take a look at them.
When it comes to my favorite season, the last thing I want to do is gnaw my fingernails in anxiety as the cold elbows its way into my home. Suffice to say, I look forward to the winter so much more once I’ve gotten through this list of honey-do’s. Mom always told me that if something’s bothering you, get it done now, so you don’t have to worry about it later. Nothing is better than relaxing in a toasty and secure home while the world outside chills over, confident in my knowledge that I won’t actually have to deal with it.