Charlie Frattini, a professional builder with more than 25 years of experience, can be seen as Builder Host on A&E’s Sell This House: Extreme. He resides with his family in Croton-on-Hudson, in a home he spent two years rebuilding, with the occasional help of some friends.
“We make sure we bring out our coats, scarves, and boots to prepare for winter, but so few of us prepare our homes for the harsh conditions that befall them for up to five months out of the year,” says Frattini. “When preparing your house for winter, do it in the same order your house was constructed: from the foundation, to the siding, to the roof, and, finally, the inside, making sure nothing is missed.” Here are Frattini’s top “winterization” chores to prepare your home for the cold months ahead:
1) Check the foundation. “Make sure no leaves, dirt, or anything else is piled up or stored against the house that would restrict water or melting snow from running off and away from your foundation and cellar or basement. Water lingering in this area can cause a wet environment inside, bringing with it mold, mildew, and insects, and can reduce the integrity of the foundation, your home’s main support.”
2) Secure windows. “Windows are your first line of defense from cold temperatures. Make sure all close properly and that there is no way for water or melting snow to infiltrate them. Add or replace seals around windows, and clean out older caulk; replace with new where needed. Remove window air conditioner units—a tremendous amount of heat is lost through them—or cover them with an insulated cover.”
3) Maintain your roof. “Clean out those gutters and leaders. A build-up of melting snow or ice in a gutter can cause water to back up into your home through roof eaves. Additionally, remove all leaves and sticks from your roof, especially in the valleys. Excessive branches or leaves can cause snow and ice buildup, which could likely cause a leak inside your home. (Check your ladder footing if using one, and if you’re not comfortable climbing a ladder, don’t.)”
4) Have boilers/heaters checked and serviced—”especially oil-fired heating units. Radiators should be cleared of stored items in front of or on top of them to allow the heat they produce to emanate throughout the space. Forced hot-air units should have the ducts inspected/cleaned prior to the season; the air we breathe indoors can be contaminated by dust, mold, rodent feces, and bacteria found in home ventilation systems.”
5) Clean out dryer vents—“a task often neglected in homes. Most dryers have screens inside, but these do not stop all of the lint from escaping [and building up in vents]. Dryer-vent fires are a major cause of home blazes throughout the year, but dryers work overtime in winter, when no one hangs their clothes outside to dry. Clean vents prior to the arrival of winter to dramatically reduce the chance of fire.”
*Note: Take proper work-safety precautions, and consult with a professional whenever you are unsure about performing any aspect of these jobs yourself.