February 13, 2023
winter preparation checklist
Our Complete 2023 Winter Preparation Checklist
By LLCR Staff

As a homeowner, Chicago winters require preparation, mentally and practically.

Before a harsh winter sets in, use this winter preparation checklist to fully winterize your condo and prepare you and your family to weather any storm.

Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Decrease your spending and increase your energy efficiency with a few simple steps. Start by completing a quick audit – either by yourself or by hiring a professional. The audit will assess the current state of your home’s efficiency and help identify areas for improvement.

Here’s what you want to look out for:

  1. Locate air leaks. Make sure all windows and doors are properly sealed to keep the heat in and cold out. Also, examine the less obvious spots where air may be getting out. Check for cracks in places like exterior corners, electrical outlets, switch plates, baseboards, vents and fans, and fireplace dampers. If you find any leaks, begin sealing! Depending on the leak, this may involve plugging and caulking holes or weatherstripping.
  2. Check insulation levels. Poor insulation levels can lead to a significant loss of heat through your home’s floor, ceilings, and walls. While this is more common with older properties, it always helps to check and avoid costly projects later. There are a few ways to check these levels non-invasively. Replacing old or inefficient windows can also improve your home’s insulation.
  3. Inspect HVAC systems and equipment. Regular maintenance on your heating and cooling systems can extend the life of your equipment while saving you energy and money. This involves cleaning your air conditioning filters and replacing your furnace filters about once a month during winter months. Upgrading to higher energy-efficient products can also make a big difference.

Prepare Your Patio

If you’re fortunate to have a patio to enjoy during the nice seasons, protecting it during the chilly seasons is important. There are a few easy ways to prep this outdoor space:

  1. Store or cover outdoor furniture.
  2. Remove plants or bring them inside.
  3. Remove leaves or debris from the patio floor.
  4. Add sealant to any stone groundwork.
  5. Periodically check on the area.

Snow Removal

Snow may be easy to admire from the inside, but it can be a real pain when you have to leave home. Make sure you have a snow removal game plan before it falls.

Keep in mind that condo homeowner associations often cover the cost of snow removal for common areas, like parking lots and community amenities. Also, a third party may handle shoveling snow if you have a unit on the first floor. However, make sure you confirm with your HOA.

If you have a unit with a balcony or patio, you will likely be responsible for maintaining this space. Consider investing in a personal shovel before snowfall.

Test Smoke Detectors

With most house fires happening during the winter, testing your smoke detectors before the snowy season hits is an easy way to keep your place safe. Smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), and batteries should be replaced at least once or twice a year (or whenever you hear an ongoing chirping sound).

Follow these simple instructions to make sure your condo’s smoke detectors are working properly:

  1. Alert anyone in your home (especially children) before you start the test. When active, the detectors make a loud, high-pitched noise.
  2. Station someone else at the furthest point from the alarm in your home to ensure the alarm can be heard throughout the entire house. 
  3. Press and hold the button on the smoke detector. It may take a few seconds to start, but you should soon hear the device making a loud, ear-piercing siren. If the sound is weak or nonexistent, replace your batteries.

Avoid Freezing Pipes

No one wants to deal with frozen pipes in the wintertime, especially the hassle that can ensue. Follow these tips to keep your lines functioning properly:

  1. Pay attention to the weather forecast. Know when temperatures are expected to drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. These freezing temps put indoor and outdoor pipes at risk of freezing.
  2. Keep the thermostat above 55 degrees, even if you’re heading out of town. This will help keep your bill down while also protecting your pipes.
  3. Disconnect external hoses or exposed pipes outside your unit. This allows water to drain from the supply line, preventing an overnight freeze from bursting either the faucet or the supply line.
  4. Open cabinets under kitchen or bathroom sinks when temperatures reach freezing, especially those located against an outside wall. It allows warmer air to circulate around the pipe. You can also set a small lamp with an incandescent bulb near the lines. 
  5. Keep faucets dripping during a hard freeze. Running water will help generate some heat, and the open faucets also relieve pressure, so even if some water freezes, it will be less likely to burst the pipe. Make sure to drip both hot and cold water because even water from the hot water heater can free quickly after leaving the heater.

Prepare for a Blizzard

It is highly unlikely you’ll go through a Chicago winter without experiencing a few blizzards. You can proactively prepare for these snow storms to help keep you and your loved ones safe and comfortable when they hit the forecast.

Here are some strategies:

    1. Stay up-to-speed with the forecast. Follow the storm’s progress and be ready to adjust your plans if needed.
    2. Stock up on essentials. Ensure you have enough food, water, and other emergency items you may want on hand if you’re stuck at home for an extended period.
    3. Insulate your home. Double-check that there aren’t any cracks or gaps in your windows and doors.
    4. Prepare your heating system. It’s important that your furnace and chimneys are clean and in good working condition. It may be worth investing in backup heating options, such as a portable heater.

We hope that this winter preparation checklist gives you the steps and confidence to stay safe as the temperatures drop and the external conditions worsen. If you’re looking for a condo this winter, connect with one of our licensed brokers to help you secure your dream home that you can enjoy during any season!

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