Simple home weatherproofing
Winter is coming...eventually. Just as you make sure you have a warm coat, gloves, ice scraper, etc., you should make sure your home is prepped for the cold weather months. Small fall winter home care measures can make a big difference. These weatherproofing jobs are simple enough for most homeowners to complete in an afternoon:
- Clean gutters and downspouts in the fall and double-check them before winter weather hits.
- Replace your furnace's filter and the filters in your home’s vents.
- Vacuum and clean open floor & wall vents to remove pollen, dust, pet hair, etc.
- Disconnect hoses from outside faucets and turn off the water. Make sure your snow shovel is in good shape (replace if necessary).
- Clear leaves, branches and other debris around your property. These items can be blown together to form cover and nests for rodents and other pests.
- Stock up on winter supplies like salt or sand.
Jobs best left to the pros
An experienced pro is recommended for these home maintenance jobs:
- Check the attic, walls, basement, and electrical outlets for adequate insulation - add if necessary.
- Caulk or apply weatherstripping around problem draft areas around doors and window.
- Cold air often comes into homes through windows that aren’t properly weatherproofed.
- Consider replacing older windows with energy-efficient double-paned windows.
- Have a contractor look for damaged roof shingles and loose gutters.
- Get a heating & cooling expert to check your furnace, even if if you are sure everything is working well. Securing an annual contract may save money.
- Winterizing your sprinkler system removes the water throughout the system: in the lines, pipes, fittings, valves, sprinklers, pumps, etc. If this isn’t done, water will freeze, expanding and breaking some or all parts of the system
- Have chimneys, fireplaces and wood stoves cleaned.
- Check the flue for each fireplace for a tight seal when closed.
We Can Help!
Contact Candace at
540-270-0274 in Prince William County, or Chelle at 571-330-6164 in Arlington, Fairfax County and Falls Church, for handymen & home maintenance referrals
Keeping the air inside clean
You’ll be spending a lot of time indoors, wouldn’t it be nice to keep germs and grime to a minimum? Think about the times you opened the windows and doors this summer and fall to enjoy a warm breeze, and remember that dust, dirt and pollen made their way in too. The EPA estimates that indoor air quality can be five times more polluted than outdoor air. The Girls of Real Estate encourage you to complete the tasks on this checklist to help you and your guests breathe easy in your fall and winter home. ca5e02
1. Clean Ceiling Fan Blades
The top of these blades are major dust magnets, here’s a quick and easy way to clean them: Take an old pillowcase and gently cover a blade. Pull it back slowly to remove the dust. The dust stays inside the pillowcase, instead flying into your face, or falling on the floor and your furniture.
2. Clean Windows & Screens
3. Winterize Your Entry
It’s going to get wet and slushy before you know it. Keep these items at your entry ways to keep winter’s grime at bay:
- Invest in a boot scraper to keep under your covered patio or get a decorative one to keep inside
- Add a chair or bench for taking off boots
- Place a shoe rack to hold footwear and protect your floors.
- Use a tough coir outdoor doormat ($15 to $200) for cleaning footwear.
4. Turn Over Furniture and Vacuum Underneath & the Bottom Side
5. Clean the Tops of Doors, Trim, and Artwork
Regular home dusting is typically limited to easy to see surfaces like table tops, shelves, mantels and your TV/DVR's. Take the time to remove the dusty buildup on these oft overlooked surfaces:
- Interior doors
- Trim, including baseboards and chair rails
- Artwork and mirrors
- Pendant lights and recessed lights
- Electrical wall plates
- Wall-mounted smoke detectors, CO detectors, and thermostats
- Vacuum curtains and/or dust blinds and shades
6. Wash and Disinfect Garbage Cans and Wastebaskets
Take all of your cans outside where you can blast the insides with a garden hose, then add your preferred bleach disinfectant. If you;d rather sterilize your bins with a homemade remedy that is powerful, yet environmentally safe, try this:
- Combine undiluted hydrogen peroxide OR vinegar mixed with water (50/50). Caution! Don’t mix hydrogen peroxide with vinegar, you'll make a harmful acid.
- Let the garbage cans sit for an hour.
- Pour out the liquid and scrub the insides with a stiff bristle brush.
- Rinse and let the wastebasket dry in direct sunlight to help eliminate bacteria.
Like Some Advice?
Contact Chelle at 571-330-6164 in Arlington, Fairfax County and Falls Church, or Candace at
540-270-0274 in Prince William County, for home care advice and handymen & home maintenance referrals
7. Replace or Disinfect Toilet Brush & Brush Holder
Head to Walmart or Target to replace these germ-laden, yet necessary, cleaning tools. If you prefer to clean the tools you have, like the waste baskets, this is a good job to do outside. Here’s what to do:
- In a bucket of hot water, make one of three cleaning solutions
- 1 part bleach to 6 parts water
- 3 cups of environmentally friendly washing soda crystal mixed and water
- A 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water
- Soak for at least two hours before rinsing with the garden house
- Dry in direct sunlight.
8. Vacuum Behind and Under the Refrigerator
Think about how many times you and your family members open the door to reach for food, and dispense ice cubes and glasses of water. It's the workhorse of your home and its condenser coils need regular attention to make sure it keeps doing it’s job well.
Condenser coils in the back?
Lay cardboard on the floor in front of the unit to protect the floor and pull the fridge out completely. Be sure to unplug it before you work on it. Vacuum the coils to clean them. Also, check to make sure your freezer vents are clear.
Condenser coils on the bottom?
Unplug it while you work on it. Remove the faceplate on the bottom to expose the coils. Clean dust using a condenser-cleaning brush (about $10) or a long, thin vacuum attachment made for cleaning under refrigerators. Even though there are no coils in the back, it’s still a good idea to pull your fridge out all the way to vacuum the dirt and dust in back of the unit.
9. Change Furnace Filters
The ultimate clean air solution is to change your filters. Ideally, you want to do this every 60 days - all of them, each time. Furnace air filters are rated by their efficiency level. The higher the rating, the better the filter is at removing dirt, mold spores, and pet dander. Filters are rated one of two methods, in each case a higher number means more efficiency. But, some filters with extremely high ratings can tax your HVAC system by restricting air flow, making it work hard and inefficiently.
- Minimum efficiency rating values (MERV) for filters range from 1 to 16, but 7 to 13 is typical for households (14 and up are used in hospitals).
- Microparticle performance rating (MPR) range from 300 to 2,400.
Cheap filters cost as little as $2, but won’t do you much good. You’re better off paying $12 to $17 for a pleated filter with a 1250 MPR, or $20 to $25 for a filter rated 2,400.
SNOWBIRD OR LONG-TERM TRAVELER CHECKLIST
Make sure your home looks occupied & secure personal property
- Forward or stop mail and suspend newspaper service
- Set interior and exterior lights to timers so that your home is well lit
- Store valuables that you are leaving behind in a safe deposit box or with a trusted friend or relative
Secure your premises
- Deadbolt exterior doors
- Check the hinges on all windows
- Test your alarm system and contact your security company (and local police) to let them know you will be away
- Sliding glass doors should have a slide lock
Water supply maintenance
- To prevent leaks while you are away for an extended time, turn off the water supply (unless you have a fire sprinkler system)
- Drain pipes of standing water by opening the faucets and flush the toilet to remove water from the tank
- Consult a plumber for assistance blowing compressed air through the pipes and for guidance on how to use antifreeze in your plumbing system
- If keeping pipes on while you’re away, be sure to keep the heat on to keep the pipes from freezing
tip: keep room and cabinet doors open to help circulate heat to the areas where pipes are.
- Turn off water outside (for the garden hoses), to the washing machine and dishwasher If it’s not already, wrap insulation around the water heater and the pipes leading to and from it.
Other Winterizing Tips
- Clean gutters to reduce the chances of ice build-up
- Have an electrician inspect your panel and wiring.
- Make sure your home is unattractive to prowlers and pests
- Consider a roof inspection
- Leave details, like travel dates and your alarm code, with a trusted family member or friend who can regularly check up on your vacant home.
- Remove dead trees or large overhanging limbs that could damage your house.
- Unplug all unnecessary appliances before you leave.
- Retrieve messages on your home voicemail so it's not full when someone calls.
Did you know?: You can have a water flow sensor and a low temperature sensor installed on your main water supply pipe. Be sure to look for the kind that can be hooked up to an alarm system or your smart phone.