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Winterizing tips for old house owners

Nov 6, 2019

Button up your overcoat

Cold weather is just around the corner. Now’s the time to take a look around your house to see what may need attention before snow and ice make repairs impossible. While it’s still warm enough to spend a little time outdoors, take a few minutes to give your house a seasonal “conditions assessment” for what needs doing before winter hits.

 Winter snow drifts at Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House in Gloucester
Historic New England’s Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House, in winter

Here are some tips and links to white papers from our staff that you can apply to your own house

One of the most important tasks is clearing gutters of leaves and debris. It’s an ongoing struggle to keep up with falling leaves, but it pays big benefits if the first hard snowfall comes early. Clearing icy gutters over a compacted layer of slimy leaves is a major headache. You can do the chore yourself or hire a company to handle the task. Just make sure it gets on your annual to-do list.

If gutters seem to fill up as soon as they’re cleaned, perhaps it’s time to trim tree limbs away from the house. This will save later trouble from low-hanging limbs that damage shingles, invite squirrels in, and increase the chances of a limb falling in an ice storm or heavy snowfall. Check around your house for problematic limbs or trees whose summer growth is encroaching on roofs.

If you are using heat tape installations, make sure they are in working order and ready to be switched on. Other heating apparatus that should have a pre-winter check are boilers and furnaces. Call now for your heating company to tune up the heating system and ensure that it’s operating optimally. While you’re at it, check out the condition of your snow removal equipment, whether it is a snow blower or shovel. It pays to be prepared for that unexpected early New England snow.

If you live in an area that frequently loses power, check that your emergency generators are in place and fueled up. If you use a roof rake to clear the eaves, tighten up the screws on your rake and have a stockpile of replacements.

Inside the house, make sure screens are up, storm panels down, and sashes locked. Locking sash windows keeps them snug and helps minimize draughts.

After you have implemented all the winterizing tips

Once you’ve done your winter “conditions assessment,” head for a comfortable chair and a good book to settle in, knowing you’ve buttoned up the house against winter damage.