Winter’s Coming

November 2015

by Keith Wilder, CGP, CAPS


This month features the importance of fall winterization and planning.

Scenario: Keith left a step ladder out before the snow season. Another time it was a $300 extension ladder, and yet once again he left an expensive tractor attachment out before the snow flew. All of these items sadly went to the dump because he had not conducted proper fall winterization methods. Yes, that Keith in this scenario is me and I would like to say, prepare your home for winter because…

Just as farmers till their fields in the fall to prepare for spring planting, so should homeowners prepare their homes for the winter months and plan ahead for spring building projects. Fall winterization plays an important role for the care, upkeep and preservation of your home. Simple fall preparation tasks can save the homeowner time, money and the headache that comes with paying for the lack of care. Besides minor maintenance such as caulking and cleaning out your gutters, some points to keep in mind might include the following small projects:

☑ Clean your chimney

☑ Pick up items in your yard
☑ Drain garden hoses
☑ Test run your generator
☑ Put gas with preservative in all of your equipment
☑ Have your propane tanks, heating oil/kerosene filled
☑ Close the foundation vents

It’s important to pick up items such as leaf rakes and ladders from your yard so you or the snow plow doesn’t drive over them. I learned this the hard way. Losing a $300 ladder or tractor attachment is not good news! It’s also very important to drain your hoses, especially in case you need them for winter fire safety. I had a chimney fire at my house one year. I wanted to hose down my roof because there were flames and sparks flying out of my chimney onto the asphalt shingled roof. I went to get water and I didn’t have a single hose that was thawed out, so I had to call the fire department.

Another winterization factor is to close your home’s foundation vents. This task saves on heating costs, keeps your feet warm and pipes thawed. You do have to remember to open them in the springtime. If you’re not going to remember to open them later, don’t shut them. I’ve visited homes in June through August with closed foundation vents and they look like there’s a greenhouse growing under the subfloor. This can spell a self-created and expensive new home project.

All in all, mindful fall maintenance of your home is a key factor in saving time, money and stress!

Insulation breaks the bank

Insulation is also a very important factor with respect to heating costs. Nearly every time I advise a new customer on installing insulation, the same response surfaces, ‘Do I really need to put that much insulation?’ Then I tell them the story about when I moved here 28 years ago and I was 24 years old. I loved to go out and get firewood and it was no big deal, but now in my 50’s I don’t appreciate it as much. I wish that I had spent more money on insulation. Trust me, the novelty of going and getting firewood is going to wear off. Of course you can get firewood cheaper than insulating your house but over time that money will trickle out with the thrifty option of less insulation. I tell customers that this is where you’re going to ‘break the bank.’ You can cut corners on your sink, your floors or doors, but you don’t want to cut corners on insulation because it catches up in time and you end up paying more in the long run.

Moreover, building codes are moving more towards saving energy. What used to be considered ‘green’ is now the norm. It won’t be long before triple pane windows will be required in Washington State and our state actually leads the nation in energy conservation and green construction practices.

Plan ahead with your building projects

Most every contractor is winding down for the season so winter is the time to plan ahead for next year’s building and remodel dreams. If you have a building project, November through January is an opportune time to meet with contractors. Maybe you want to expand that new bedroom, remodel your kitchen or put on a new roof. Bring your plan and ideas of what it is you envision happening with your home over the course of the next year. You can discuss your goals, the materials and of course costs involved. This will make it much smoother for next year when the frost is gone to get the project off the ground. And keep in mind quality contractors in general book up for the next year. Some are already booked.

Our local Spokane Homebuilders Association is a great resource for finding a contractor and keep in mind some contractors aren’t going to pay for the homebuilders association membership unless they’re serious about their profession. Some of the membership funds go to support political action to influence our legislators to pass laws that benefit small business. Check out