Now is the time to prep for winter around the home


As the weather gets cooler this fall, now is an ideal time to complete projects to prepare the home for the cold weather season.

Clark Public Utilities’ Dameon Pesanti provided a checklist of small projects residents can accomplish to improve the efficiency of a living space prior to winter. Some main items include cleaning gutters, changing furnace filters, sealing air leaks and more.

“Now is the time to start prepping for winter because if you’ve got to do anything big, the weather is still friendly enough that you’re not going to have to suffer if you need to have your doors or windows open for a period of time, or if you gotta get your furnace shut off for a little bit,” Pesanti said. “So fall is definitely a good winter-prep season.”

Pesanti’s first checklist item includes replacing a filter in a furnace for those who have one. Changing out the filter will make a difference in how well it operates this winter and improve the indoor air quality, Pesanti added.

“Trying to run your furnace with a dirty filter is a lot like trying to go for a run and just breathing out of a straw,” Pesanti said. “So that is very high on my list.”

For those with a ductless heat pump, Pesanti recommended cleaning the screens as they tend to clog up and inhibit the performance of the heat pump.

The next big task that Pesanti is currently working on around his own home is checking for air leaks, especially around exterior doors and windows.

“Check the seals around your exterior doors [to see] if there is any light around. Like if you have the door shut and you can see any light either at the threshold or around the frame itself, that’s an air leak,” Pesanti said. “That is going to bleed cold air into your house around the clock all winter long … That’s wasting energy. That’s directly fighting your furnace’s efforts to keep your house warm.”

Other places for air leaks are round pipes or any kind of plumbing. Cracked caulk needs to be replaced, and a bigger gap around pipes can be sealed with expanding spray foam, Pesanti added.

“That stuff is really paying attention to what we call the home envelope,” Pesanti said. “You want to make sure that envelope is sealed nice and tight.”

Another checklist item is for homeowners to stop blocking the vents on their crawl spaces, which Pesanti mentioned was a popular practice prior to homes having insulation under their floors.

“People want to trap that warm air in there and keep the cold air from blowing through, but any new house and updated house … should have insulation under the floors, and that makes blocking those vents completely unnecessary,” Pesanti said. “Matter of fact, blocking those vents is bad because we have such a soggy winter season here … and when you block those vents, you are trapping moisture under your house, and that moisture can damage the wood in your floors.”

Moisture can cause mold and mildew issues to the wood in a living space’s floors.

Outside, people with downspouts off of their gutters need to make sure the rain water is pushed away from the home’s structure. If a downspout drops the water right by the foundation, that water is seeping underground next to the foundation and possibly into the crawl space, Pesanti said.

“This is also a good time of year, if you have a crawl space, to get down there and check it out because the thing with the crawl space is they are literally out of sight, out of mind,” Pesanti said. “You might not know you have a problem there until it becomes such a big problem that it’s practically jumping out at you.”

When down in the crawl space, people should examine the plastic liner, making sure that it’s spread out and not bunched up. Pesanti said there should be no exposed dirt in the crawl space. Looking for moisture forming on the wood below the house, as well as making sure the floor insulation is still in good shape are a couple of other things people should check.

People should also check the irrigation and sprinkler systems, Pesanti said.

“This is a good time of year to start thinking about having a professional come out and blow all the water out of it because if it freezes in there, it’s going to burst your pipes, and you don’t want that,” Pesanti said.

Better Homes and Gardens has a checklist as well, mentioning to check the roof for leaks before the rainy weather really hits. Visit list/ to view their fall and winter preparation checklist.