Things to do before the end of November
By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Feature Article - posted Wed., Nov. 9, 2011
You're already shopping for your Thanksgiving turkey. Then it's “Black Friday,” and you'll be in the stores in a shopping frenzy. Winter is closing in on us, so you had better get these things done this month.
Removing your window air conditioners is high on the fall checklist, but I still see so many of these units poking through neighborhood windows. This is a prime siphon pulling the warm air out of your home. You can bundle it up with a winterizing kit found at the home store, but the best idea is take the unit out, clean it up, and store it in the basement or garage.
Sealing up leaks in your home will keep the warm air inside and the cold air out. There are so many places to look. Start with the obvious. Use weather stripping to insulate around windows and doors if you haven't replaced the old units in your home. You have read in this column about covering an entire window unit in plastic film to cut out drafts. If it worked for you last year, you'll want to do it this year, too.
Repair or replace your storm door. The door closer eventually just wears out, and the door might not seal tightly after you come inside. That not only allows warm air to escape, it might also let the door flap in the winter wind and become damaged. If your storm door doesn’t fit right because it took a beating last year, look for a good replacement unit.
If our recent wintry storm didn't get your attention with its abundant, wet snow, then let this be your wake-up call. Get out the snowblower, and make it ready. Put fresh oil in the engine to replace what you drained out last spring. (Check the manufacturer's specifications.) Start it up and give yourself a refresher on its use. If last winter just did you in, then find someone to deal with the snow for you. Make a suitable arrangement with a contractor to have your driveway and sidewalks cleared in compliance with local ordinances.
It's not a bad idea to keep a few gallons of gas stored in the garage for use in the snowblower or maybe even for your vehicle. But be safe about it. Use a proper, approved storage container, and don’t let it sit there through the whole winter. Fill the gas can, and add some stabilizer to keep it usable. If you don't use it for a snowblower, then empty it into your vehicle, refresh the emergency supply, and repeat the cycle.
Is last winter so far out of your mind that you have forgotten all the roof collapses and other problems the heavy snow accumulation brought us? Were you one of the thousands who ran to the store in a panic searching for a roof rake, only to find empty shelves? If you have one, take it out of storage, or make the trip to the store now.
Don't run out to the grocery store at the last minute. Stock up the pantry for the uncertainties of winter. Get dry and canned staple foods, as well as fresh vegetables that will last without refrigeration. Have enough bottled drinking water on hand for each member of your family. When a storm is approaching, all you will need to do is pick up the last-minute perishables, such as milk and eggs.
Get ready for another power outage. We have just been reminded that heavy snow will take down trees and power lines with them. Decide how you want to handle this situation. Check your stock of batteries, flashlights and candles. Purchase a generator now if you feel you will really need one in an outage situation. Test it out, so you know just how it works and what can go wrong before an emergency hits.
So many homes use fireplaces, wood stoves and other combustible heaters during the minter months. Be cautious. Replace batteries in smoke detectors. And if your units are about 10 years old, replace the units completely.
While you are thinking about smoke detection, think also about the potential for toxic levels of carbon monoxide in your home. Install a CO detector, especially if your home is well sealed and you use an auxiliary heat source.
I can think of several other things you can do to prepare for the winter months ahead, but the items already listed are timely matters that you should do right away.