Saying the words ‘winter’ with ‘Western Montana’ can conjure up visions of log cabins buried to the eaves in snow, with thermometers bottoming out and blizzards howling. Those of us that live here, however, know better. The Bitterroot valley is widely known as the “banana belt of Montana” for it’s milder-than-usual climate and sheltered winters. Locals understand, however, that winter is nothing to be trifled with. We have our moments of subzero temperatures and fierce blizzards.
It is critical for property owners to take steps now, before the onset of winter, to prepare for the cold. It is a great time to take some basic preventative measures to keep properties safe and secure, and to protect tenants from emergencies that can arise with cold weather.
Take some time to fire up the furnace and make sure it is completely functional. This is also the ideal time to replace furnace filters and buy several replacements. Regularly replacing furnace filters is much simpler to do when they are already on hand. It’s also not a bad time to consider cleaning ducts (ever think about how long it has been, if ever, since the last cleaning and what you might find in there?) After all, that’s the air you will be breathing all winter long.
If your property has a wood-burning stove, if you haven’t done so already, it is time to schedule a chimney cleaning and inspection. Make sure the flue is operating effectively and your fireplace is cleaned out and ready for use. A wood-burning stove can be a wonderful way to heat your home, but it can also be a real hazard if not maintained properly.
Conduct a thorough walk-through of the property exterior. Make sure the roof is in good shape, as well as the exterior cover on the home, be it siding, brick, stucco, etc. It is also wise to check exterior doors for tightness and weatherstripping. A poorly hung door or a door with worn or damaged weatherstripping can really cut into the heating bill by adding a serious draft. Even in new homes, as the foundation settles and shifts, door frames can shift too, bringing about a poor fit that may need compensating for.
Make sure windows are in good condition, haven’t lost their seal, fasten and lock properly, and that there is no water damage around the frames or sills. It goes without saying that, if storm windows or other window coverings are available, now is the time for installation.
It’s a great time to move all outdoor equipment, such as a grill, lawn tables and chairs, and any other yard toys into storage before the weather wears on them. And while you’re outside, don’t forget to put your flower gardens to bed and cut the grass one last time before it all stops growing. Leaving an overgrown lawn over the winter contributes to turf diseases and pest problems that will visibly impact the health and condition of your grass next spring. And don’t forget to blow out your sprinkler system!
These are just a few tips to help ready your property for the cold winter ahead. A little work now will pay huge dividends down the road. As you sit inside by the fire watching the snow pile up, you will enjoy peace of mind and confidence that you and your tenants are projected from the elements in a warm, comfortable, secure, and fully winterized home.