Middle Tennessee Winter Weather Checklist
The average temperature for Middle Tennessee is recorded as 47°F by the National Weather Center but whether you live in Hendersonville, Franklin, Brentwood or Nashville, we all know it gets a lot colder than that. The hills, (we like to call them mountains) can get covered with snow and ice, our curvy roads turn into dangerous slip-n-slides, and our well-manicured homes take a beating under the weight of extreme weather patterns. It’s all part of the ups and downs of seasonal change but neglecting to manage those things appropriately can cost you a lot more than money in the long run.
Fortunately, getting yourself ready for the impending winter isn’t as hard as you think. Aside from gathering up your traditional warming gear and cranking up the heat inside your house, there are a few other things that need to be done before the weather takes a turn for the worse. First things first, though: You’ve got to get organized and come up with a strategy to help save you some money. For many homeowners, that involves hiring an inspector to come check out the property before the cold hits. For others, it includes that plus a quick rundown of the following 5-point winter weather checklist:
1. Prepare the Plumbing
Neglecting to protect your plumbing can be a costly mistake, especially if Middle Tennessee gets slammed again with an extra cold winter. Before any of that happens, be sure to drain all the water from any outdoor faucets, hoses and air-tight containers on your property. Take hoses inside and find a way to have any in-ground sprinkler system pipes blown out. Frozen pipes and containers can explode, causing serious damages and possible injury. If your house has exposed pipes that cannot be relocated or emptied without disrupting the flow of your everyday life, such as in mobile homes and travel trailers, wrap them up in high-quality heat tape during extreme temperatures.
PRO TIP: Leave your interior water faucets dripping during the coldest parts of winter to prevent a total freeze.
2. Check the Windows
Your windows can let in frigid air if they’re not adequately sealed up, and that might require some extra attention on your part. Over the next few weekends before the fullness of winter sets in, check your windowsills to make sure they’re airtight. Run your hand long the glass where it connects to the trim; see if you feel any cold air getting through the cracks. If so, diligently line any cracks with caulk as per the directions on the product’s label. Where that’s not possible and when money is tight, staple thick plastic to the interior window frame to keep cold air from getting in. Just be sure to remove it when spring arrives.
PRO TIP: If you can afford it, install storm windows to significantly lower the costs of all-season heating and cooling.
3. Clear the Fireplace
Everyone loves curling up next to a crackling fireplace in the blistering cold of a Nashville winter, but that scenario may require some additional effort on your part. Preparing your home for the upcoming weather by having chimneys inspected and/or cleared of debris. Enlist the help of a professional regardless of your budget. Not only does a clean fireplace look nicer, smell better, and keep the house warmer (thereby reducing your seasonal heating costs), but it also reduces the risk of a structural fire in the event of a flammable clog and can affect the price of your homeowner’s insurance policy as well.
PRO TIP: Clean out the firepit immediately after the burning has stopped and try to use longer-lasting logs to prevent debris build-up in the shoot.
4. Change the Furnace Filter
Swapping your old furnace filter for a brand new one is an important step to take when readying your property for the cold weather. That furnace of yours has been running like a champ all year long, but when winter hits it will have to start working overtime. Give it a fresh pair of lungs or suffer the consequences when the high-dollar usage bills begin showing up in your mailbox. Furnace filters are surprisingly inexpensive and can save you hundreds of dollars in maintenance costs over time. If possible, install a setback thermometer to help reduce your heating costs while you’re away on seasonal trips.
PRO TIP: Newer filters can sometimes be vacuumed out instead of replaced, but don’t forget to hit the vents in your house while you’re at it.
5. Secure the Pathways and Railings
With winter comes lots of snow and ice, and with that comes the potential for a slip and fall situation. Dangerous grounds can be extremely hazardous to your health and your pocketbook, especially if your homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover accidents caused by negligence. Be sure to level out any potholes or divots on your grounds to prevent water accumulation and future freezing. Meanwhile, see to it that your railings are all securely attached to the ground or wall because they provide extra support when traveling between parts of your property. When you’re all done, make sure there’s a clear path coming from your main port of entry to your vehicle and keep in as clean as possible.
PRO TIP: Sprinkle salt on all your steps and walkways to prevent slipping and injury to yourself, your family members and any possible houseguests.
Tips for Getting Organized Before Hibernation
Getting ready for a middle Tennessee winter may seem like a time-consuming pain the neck, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case if you get organized before the bad weather hits. The financial disadvantages associated with an unprepared home are vast, including increased heating bills and preventable maintenance needs in the spring. Prep your property properly by breaking down your tasks into digestible bites. Remember, gazing at an enormous to-do list can be overwhelming. Save yourself, your family and your future home inspector some stress (and money). Prioritize your goals according to your timeframe and budget, use only high-quality materials on important projects, and don’t be afraid to ask for professional help when it’s needed.
After potential winter home damage, or if you want to prepare your house for a sale, get in touch with J and J for a proper home inspection – anywhere in Middle Tennessee. And if you’re in Hendersonville, simply visit our Hendersonville Home Inspectors page.