Getting your home ready for the coming winter season can be a discouraging task for single women living alone, but there is no need for this. With a clear-cut plan, it is easy to prepare for the windy cold long before it is here, I am a single mom, and what follows is my fall schedule.
Have a professional come to look over the heating system and hot water system to make sure they are secure. While that professional is there, they can make sure the thermostat is also in proper working order. If you have a chimney be sure to clean it so that it is soot free from last year, so you do not have a chimney fire.
If you use a space or kerosene heater, make sure you get these items serviced each fall, so that they are in working order. Many people around the United States use these small heaters in their homes, so it is necessary to make sure they are in proper working order.
Look around on the inside your home, specifically at the outlets if there space around them. If so, remove the space, by adding a small amount of caulking drywall or if is a small space then perhaps simply a new outlet cover will suffice. It is always a good idea to replace broken outlet covers now to prevent cold and moisture from entering the living space.
Repair any cracks in the walls during the fall before winter sets in. These cracks occur from the house settling and they appear on the outer walls of the home. Use dry wall tape and spackle if possible, making sure to sand down any rough areas. You may paper over this area or paint the area to match the rest of the room.
If you have an attic, it is a great idea to go ahead and add another layer of insulation if it is older and has been in place for more then 20 years. As we, all know heat rises and you do not want your heat escaping through the roof.
On a sunny day look at your entry doors, if you see sunlight coming through any openings then purchase some weather stripping and lay it in place. This weather stripping in foam with an adhesive backing and is designed to keep out the winter chill. Simply peel off the backing, expose the adhesive, and stick into place. This comes in many sizes, it is a cheap alternative to high heating bills, and you can purchase this at any department or hardware store.
You can purchase a tube of caulk at any hardware or department store, is great for filling in gaps around doors, electrical outlets, and of course around pipes that enter your home. Tiny spaces will let in so much cold air, and will keep the furnace running far more then it should.
It is a great idea to check around dryer vents, chimneys and any place where pipes enter your kitchen or bathroom for holes. Use caulk to fix smaller holes, or repair the wood around the opening so that the gap is very narrow. It is better do this in early September before it begins to get cold in your area because rodents will scurry into those holes seeking shelter from the cool fall nights.
Place the storm doors on exterior doors, and place all the screens in the cellar out of the way for the season. Place storm windows on most of your windows in the early fall so that you do not have to do so much replacing when the weather turns. I often install most of the storm windows in early September, but I do not do storm window on all the widows. I leave two window screens in my living room that I can open these windows when possible. I can open these two windows on warm days but I can quickly place the storm windows long before the cold comes.
To save money on the winter heating bills, repair any broken windows now in the fall. Get the windows fixed rather than covering it with plastic or even a board; these allow precious heat to flow right out the window.
Lock windows that will seal the windows from the winter chill, if possible. These locks add a measure of security to your home, to slow burglars down or perhaps thwart them all together.
Clean out the eaves. A simple way to do this is to hook up your garden hose, turn the water on full blast, and spray the eaves. The leaves and other debris should float right down and out the bottom on the ground.
Cleaning the eaves out is important because ice can build up in these and then you have water, ice backing up onto the roof and under the shingles. This is where leaky roofs originate and every homeowner must avoid this.
While you have the hose out to clean the eaves, go right ahead and spray down vinyl siding. Just make sure close the windows and doors as you spray clean your home for the winter months. It washes off the summer grime, and in the springtime, I do it again with a pressure hose.
If you do not have a shed on your property then you will need to bring in items such as a lawn mover, weed trimmer, and gardening tools. You need to make sure these items are out of gasoline before storing them in the cellar, to prevent fires. It is a great idea to remove the spark plug as well so that the children are not accidentally turning it on. Hang garden tools horizontally rather than vertically on nails hung from the wall so they are out of the reach from the children.
This article was originally published in the November 2008 issue of Girlfriend-to-Girlfriend magazine. It is a magazine, which is written for women by women as a single mom this article entails the drama that goes on around my house as I prepare it for winter, a job I kind of hate.