Okay, okay, we know our friends in the Midwest and East Coast are rolling their eyes at this one, because we're fortunate to have such beautiful, mild weather here in most of California - particularly in the Sacramento area where we live.
However, we do have a short season of cold, wind, rain and, sometimes, hail or snow, so we still should take steps to prepare our homes for winter.
So, today we'd like to share some tips on how you can prepare your home for winter in California. These are especially important if you're considering selling. Many of these tips are also on our homeseller tip checklists if you're preparing your home to list, because they ensure your home is in great condition when you sell.
Let's take a look at the 10 ways to winterize your home:
1. Clean Drains and Gutters:
This is something you want to do before the storms start. You want to make sure your drains and gutters are free from leaves, gunk and other build-up, so that water can flow freely.
You definitely don't want a bunch of water bottle-necking up on your roof where it can create leaks and water damage.
2. Seal Off Drafty Windows and Doors:
Is there an area of the house that just doesn't hold heat as well as others? It's possible the doors and windows are not sealed properly or completely.
Sometimes, as homes settle, these small cracks can form. We may not notice so much during the warm months, but especially in winter when you're cranking up the heat, you want to keep your home warm and your energy bill down by keeping that heat inside.
3. Seal Potential Leaks:
Similarly, if there are any areas where you are seeing leaking or you have in the past, it's time to get those sealed or DIY the job yourself.
Even a small, consistent leak can wreak havoc in terms of water damage, rot, and even mold. None of these things are good for your health or for the condition of your home.
We once heard a nightmare story from a client who told us how they had gone through the entire process to buy their first home as a married couple. They had all necessary inspections with no issues. Then, once they had moved in, they decided to strip off some old wallpaper and behind it, the walls were covered in mold. They ended up spending months and their life savings going through the house and repairing all of the mold damage.
So, for your own health and that of anyone else who lives in your house, always do what you can to seal leaks and keep the home as dry as possible.
4. Trim Overgrown Branches & Foliage:
Those trees and bushes are sure lovely for shade and ambience during warmer months - but in the winter? You definitely want to trim those back as much as possible. A good wind storm could bend them irreparably anyway, so take steps to prep your foliage to withstand the winter.
A recent windstorm right here where we live bent our beloved rose bushes to the point of no return. We had our landscaper trim them all the way back and we are just crossing our fingers that they'll grow back in the spring. If we had trimmed them before the storm, we may have been able to preserve more of them.
Be smarter than us: prep your home for the winter now.
5. Cover or Move Outdoor Furniture:
An easy one to forget when you have 300 days of sunshine, but make sure to cover or move all of your outdoor furniture, cushions and even grill. Just because your furniture says waterproof, it doesn't mean you want that water sitting on them and soaking in for days at a time.
Even if you just bag up your cushions, you'll be in better condition come spring time. For your grill, make sure it's covered or moved into an area where it can't be blown around. You'll be glad you did when the winter is over.
6. Prep Your Pool:
It takes a long time to get your pool to the optimum chemical levels. Don't let all the rainwater destroy your hard work! You may also want to get a pool cover to ensure that foliage and leaves don't fall into the pool, making a big mess for you to clean up.
If you won't be using your pool for the winter, you can take even more steps to prepare it to sit for awhile. Check out this post with more pool winterization tips.
7. Stock Up On Supplies:
In California, we tend to have more rolling blackouts in the heat of summer when wildfires are raging than we do in the winter, but that doesn't mean it won't happen.
You want to be prepared with at least some basic supplies in case you lose power. Here are some things to consider:
Flashlights in easy to find places
First Aid Kit
Food that doesn't need to be cooked
Here is a more comprehensive list to help you prepare.
8. Update Your Irrigation:
If you're having consistent rain, you can turn them off completely. If your rain is intermittent, you can manually turn them on when needed to prevent foliage death.
Even in our area where we don't have consistent rain, we usually leave our sprinkler system off for a few months. We turn them back on when the rain stops in April.
Many homes in California are now using drought tolerant landscaping, particularly in the Sacramento area, where we do have a long, hot summer. In these cases, you'll need even less irrigation to get you through the winter as we get plenty of rain for the type of landscaping that most of us have.
If you're not sure, talk to your landscaper or call one to take a look at your property. Turning off your sprinklers helps preserve water, as well as lowers your water bill. Win win.
9. Check Your Heater:
Before you really need it, you'll want to check your heater. Make sure the pilot lit is on and that it is working properly. You'll also want to run it once or twice with the windows open, so the dust won't settle in your house. If you run it for the first time at night with everything sealed, anyone with allergies or sensitivity to dust is going to start having a coughing fit.
If you haven't changed the filters recently, consider switching those out, too, to keep the air as clean as possible.
10. Invest in Air Purifiers:
In the colder months, we all spend more time indoors with the house zipped up tight. It may be surprising to learn that indoor air quality is actually worse than outside (in most cases).
"According to the EPA, however, the levels of indoor air pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels, and in some cases these levels can exceed 100 times that of outdoor levels of the same pollutants. In other words, sometimes the air inside can be more harmful than the air outside," (source).
There are a few things we can do to help mitigate this. First, open doors and windows when you can to allow free flowing air inside.
Second, replace filters throughout the home every 6 months or sooner if you start to feel allergies aggravated or the air becomes more stale.
Third, invest in air purifiers. Many of the available ones on the market are good for a large space, such as a living room or a bedroom. This means you may want to have a few of them scattered around the house. For us, we have one in each bedroom where people regularly sleep and one in the main living area. If we start to notice stale air in another space, we'll temporarily move an air purifier into that room and run it for a day or two. This is also really effective at reducing smells from cooking, pet accidents or lingering smells that you don't like. You can easily order brands like BlueAir, Levoit Pet Purifier, Shark, Medify and Dyson on Amazon.
We hope these tips help you prepare for winter here in California. This may seem like a lot, but once you get in the habit of taking these steps every year, they'll quickly become part of your routine.
They will help your home keep in healthier warm air, and also protect your house and outdoor area for the long haul.
Thanks for reading!