Handyman: Prepare for the worst and hope for the best

Glenn Haege
Special to The Detroit News

In spring I wrote an article, “Check your home for Polar Vortex Disorder,” to provide some tips on determining how last year’s brutal winter may have impacted your home. So will we have another polar vortex this winter?

“The Climate Prediction Center forecast just came in, and the projection is for a drier than normal winter, with equal chances that temperatures could go either way,” according to Paul Gross, meteorologist at WDIV Channel 4 (wdiv.com) “Based upon the fact that we’ll have a weak El Nino pattern in the Pacific this winter, I would lean toward temperatures averaging near normal. But it’s important to remember that this is an outlook, not a specific forecast.”

Whether this prediction comes true or not, you need to do some proper prior planning to prepare your house to withstand the potential cold and snow in the event we get Round 2 this winter. So, make sure you focus on areas that were impacted during last year’s winter weather when you do your annual walk around your home to make a list of things that need attention.

With all the snow we had last year, you need to inspect your roof to determine if it is ready to handle another long winter. Curled or broken shingles and cracks in the valleys of the roof can lead to roof leaks, so call an experienced roofing company like Kearns Brothers, (888) 355-6700, kearnsbrothers.com or McGlinch and Sons Home Improvement, (313) 278-2777, mcglinchsons.com to get it inspected. Next, make sure your gutters are cleaned and aligned properly, and your downspout extenders are unclogged so that melting snow will drain properly.

With the amount of use your furnace and humidifier got last year, they need some TLC to get them ready for another busy winter. A couple of things you can do yourself to get your heating system ready is to change the furnace filter and clean and change the drum, pad or sponge in the humidifier. Then make sure you open the damper on the ductwork so the warmed air from the furnace will flow through the humidifier during the winter.

If you haven’t had your furnace serviced in a few years, it would be a good idea to schedule an appointment now to get a furnace tuneup. Companies that offer furnace tuneups include Family Heating, Cooling and Electrical, (734) 422-8080, familyheating.com; Flame Heating, Cooling, Plumbing and Electrical, (888) 234-2340, flamefurnace.com; Hartford and Ratliff, (248) 471-3110, hartfordandratliff.com and Randazzo Heating, Cooling and Fireplaces, (888) 884-3322, callrandazzo.com.

Your garage door also needs some maintenance to make sure it opens and closes properly, no matter how cold it gets. Lubricate all the moving parts using a spray Dry Lube with PTFE, including the hinges, rollers, cables and springs.

You also want to check the weatherstripping on your doors and caulking around your windows to make sure you have a good seal so the cold air can’t get in and your heat doesn’t get out. If you need to re-caulk your windows, use a good silicone caulk or a special caulk like DAP Seal ’n Peel removable weatherstrip caulk, dap.com.

Now is the time to get your snow thrower ready for extensive use by taking it in for a checkup. Stock up on ice melters now, because last year many stores ran out in the middle of the winter.

When it comes to your home and severe winters, I believe it is always better to be pessimistic and prepared. So don’t procrastinate, because that first snow and cold snap will be here sooner than you know. Do something proactive now and give your home a fighting chance to withstand another tough winter.

If you would like to suggest a question for this column, email askglenn@masterhandyman.com. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations.