My neighbor Charlie met me outside my house a couple of Saturday nights ago to make me aware that there was a skunk loose in the neighborhood.
I live in what’s called central-core Norman, Okla., a couple miles away from the campus of the University of Oklahoma, and I’ve been a homeowner for only a couple of years. Aside from the possibility of getting sprayed by a skunk myself, I wasn’t sure how his news really affected me.
“Well, you’ve got a wide-open path to the crawlspace there at the side of your house, so if a skunk gets down there — your house is going to smell all sorts of bad if she sprays,” he said.
Oh, I get it now. Don’t want that.
We got that hole covered up. But I’ve come to understand that making sure your crawlspaces are closed is one of many things homeowners need to do each winter to make sure their property is ready for the season. So, I’m winterizing my home over the course of the next two weeks, and I’ve been doing a lot of research and asking around. Here are a few tips I’ve gathered:
CHECK YOUR ROOF
While the neighborhood skunk drew my attention to the bottom of my house, really my attention should start at the top of it.
“Have the roof checked in the fall. Make sure it’s free of debris, and check your gutters. Oh, and make sure everything is caulked,” said Curtis Yates with Elliott Roofing.
Yates said making sure the roof is free of debris is important in the event of a winter storm. Excess debris could cause ice damming, he said.
“If your roof has nothing on it, it should be OK,” Yates said.
CHECK YOUR FURNACE
When I had the freon replaced in my central air unit this summer, the HVAC repairman suggested he make a return visit to my house before winter. First, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends homeowners have their heating systems checked. Second, my HVAC guy noticed some openings in my attic that concerned him, making him think I needed a full-on carbon monoxide inspection.
Luckily, I have a couple of detectors. However, I’m all about staying warm this winter, so a pre-season check-up is in the works — and that includes a few ways to save money.
“You’ll want to change out your air filters. Not only will that reduce allergies and save on heating costs, it will reduce the risk of a broken furnace,” said Paulette Kingston of 18002SellHomes.
CHECK YOUR FOUNDATION
In addition to sealing off your crawlspaces, you’ll want to check your foundation for any cracks. It doesn’t take much for mice to be able to slip through them.
If you water around the foundation of your house through the summer, you should plan on doing so during the winter, too. Just not as much.
“Remember that evaporation occurs much slower, so the amount of water should be greatly reduced, typically by around 75%,” said Randon Gregory of Ram Jack Foundation Repair of Texas.
CHECK YOUR LIGHTING
For people who live in areas that get a lot of ice, good lighting is especially important because ice along sidewalks can be particularly tricky to see. To that end, I have a bunch of inexpensive lights that I’ve placed around the front of my house. Cost me all of $20 to do.
However, I hadn’t thought about my hot tub in the back, which depends totally on the light from my kitchen door. My friend, Roy Farmer, who owns HomeLeisure.com said I should do the same thing there.
“Add some lights that illuminate the path to it before it starts to get darker earlier,” he said.
So, my next couple of weekends are filling up with this quick project. Luckily, because I live in Oklahoma, I don’t have to deal with the same type of winter they get up north. However, we did get a legitimate blizzard in Oklahoma as recently as 2011.
Better safe than sorry!