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Batten Down the Hatches

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Every year homes are battered by the elements, with wind dishing out most of the abuse. It blows through every crack and crevice, and while it’s necessary for a house to “breathe” a little (for proper air quality), having an unwanted breeze blowing through your house is not a good thing.

Now is the time to bring out storm windows and doors. Many older windows can be fitted with true storm windows (on the exterior frame). The only problem is, you still might want to get some fresh air.
You might want to opt for double- or triple-track storm windows, often referred to as “combination” windows. These units, which open and close, attach to the outside of your existing windows and can remain in place all year long.

As another possible alternative to storms, you can effectively seal your windows with clear, heat-shrink plastic film. (Interior and exterior kits are available.)
Like wind, water can be a dreaded winter adversary. But you can head off potential problems by taking a look around the house.

If you have caulked around windows, heavy rain may come in through an inadequate threshold. Study your own threshold. If the wood is soft, you may need to caulk or even replace the piece entirely. A good clue as to whether the wood is soft is if it shows any discoloration. Likewise, chipped paint indicates rot damage on window frames, because water will literally push paint off the wood.

Another way for water to seep into your home is through the roof. By checking out the status of your roof now, you could avoid a catastrophe later.
Shingles can also be a potential source of water problems. Gutters should be included on your fall checklist. Once you’re certain that most of the leaves have fallen, rid the gutters and downspouts of all debris to ensure proper drainage. Any blockage could result in freezing and splitting. Blockages can cause water to back up under the shingles, causing further roof problems. You can save yourself a lot of work by adding gutter guards come spring – especially if your gutters are overshadowed by trees.

The majority of U.S. homes have chimneys, and many chimneys lead to wood-burning fireplaces. If that’s the case at your house, be sure the chimney is topped with a cap, which will prevent rain and tree debris from going down the flue. Hire a good chimney service to clean and inspect your chimney every year before the wood-burning season begins.

Image courtesy of Benjamin Moore Co.