Preparing Your Home For A Wet, Portland Winter

As the cooler months settle in, and the drizzle picks up, it’s important to make sure you prepare your home for a wet, Portland winter. Taking these steps will save you money on last-minute repairs and reduce heating costs. Here are 10 things you can do to winterize your Portland home.

Maximize these cost-saving tips by starting early so you can get everything done before the temperature drops too much. And please note, some of these can be completed easily over a weekend whereas others might take a little longer and require a professional.

1. Invest in weather stripping

Keep the cold air out and the warm air in by investing in weather stripping around your windows and doors. You can pick up weather stripping at almost any hardware store. Common places that benefit from weather stripping include windows, doors, plumbing areas, air conditioning units, and mail chutes. Make sure you can’t see any daylight.

2. Follow up with a nickel test for exterior caulking

If you spy any gaps outside around windows, siding and door frames wider than the width of a nickel, get some silicone caulk to pipe in the gaps. Silicone is weather resistant and won’t contract during the cold.

3. Clean your gutters

Portland is home to a ton of trees, and many of those shed their leaves right into your yard, roof, and gutter. To prevent clogging and potential water damage to your home, it’s important to keep your roof and gutters clear of leaves. If you don’t want to get up on a ladder, hire a professional to clear the leaves out.

4. Get drain extenders

If you don’t have them already, add some drain extenders from your gutter downspouts so the water exits at least 4 feet away from the foundation. According to home improvement experts, this will prevent water damage and corrosion to your home and foundation.​ Here is more info on which type of extender will best suit your home and garden.

5. Clear storm drains of leaves and other debris

If your home is near a storm drain, be a good neighbor and keep the drains clear of leaves and other debris that can pile up; otherwise, your street might turn into a lake during a downpour. Use a rake to pull out the leaves and follow up with a broom to sweep up the rest. You will probably have to do this several times throughout the colder months.

6. Get your heating system checked out

Have a technician make sure your heater is tuned-up, filters replaced and in good condition, so you don’t get stuck with no heat during a cold spell.

7. Stock up on winter essentials

Remember a couple of years ago when the city ran out of ice melt? And shovels and de-icer were cleared from the shelves at Freddy’s?  Make sure that doesn’t happen to you by getting a shovel, ice melt, and a car window scraper early. Also, remember that Portland and surrounding cities require homes and businesses to shovel sidewalks and keep them safe for pedestrians. ​It’s the law and your civic duty.

8. Prepare for power outages

With lots of trees and lots of wind, both very common in Portland, make sure you have a power outage kit that’s readily accessible. Stock this kit with non-perishable snacks, flashlights with extra batteries, blankets, first aid supplies, and a hand crank phone charger or battery pack. PGE does a pretty good job getting the power back on after a few hours, but it never hurts to be prepared.

9. Put your ceiling fan clockwise

During the summer you want the ceiling fan turning counter-clockwise, but during the winter you want an updraft to push the warm air back down. Clockwise-turning blades are more energy efficient during the cooler months and could save you money on your heating bill. Most ceiling fans have a switch that toggles the direction. This is especially helpful if you have high ceilings.

10. Clean your chimney

Before starting any autumn fires or winter yule logs, call a chimney sweep to clear out anything that may have gotten stuck in there since you last used your fireplace. A clean chimney can prevent carbon monoxide build-up in your home, and prevent chimney fires. And if you plan on using your fireplace, make sure everyone in the family understands fireplace safety.  Here are some additional tips.

Do you know of any tips we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

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