5 ways to prepare your home for winter

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Getting a well-maintained home ready for winter isn’t difficult, but it’s wise to start early, say experts at the Paint Quality Institute. They recommend that homeowners tackle five simple projects as soon as possible. Together, they can help protect your home from the elements, make it more comfortable, and help prevent expensive repair bills next spring:

1. Touch up exterior paint. Peeling or flaking paint can expose bare wood, subjecting it to moisture and possible rotting, so if you see bare spots, be sure to touch them up. Scrape off any loose paint, sand the surface smooth, and prime the bare wood. Then apply one or two coats of top quality 100% acrylic latex paint. (Use leftover paint if you have it!)

2. Don’t ignore rust spots. If iron doors, railings, or fences show signs of rust, correct the problems as soon as you can; otherwise, things will snowball over the winter. Use a scraper and/or wire brush to remove the rust, rinse away any particles that remain and prime the surfaces as soon as they are dry. Complete the work by applying two thick coats of 100 percent acrylic latex paint.

3. Caulk cracks and gaps. Any openings in your home’s exterior are not only energy sieves, but also serve as inviting entry points for insects and mice. Deal with both concerns by sealing cracks, gaps, and open seams with a paintable, top-quality acrylic caulk. Conceal the caulk by touching up with leftover paint.

4. Keep out the cold and moisture. Storm windows and storm doors are essential defenses against wind, rain, snow and cold air. If you have storm windows and doors, put them up early; if you don’t have them, buy some. They will help pay for themselves through lower energy bills and tax credits.

5. Clean the gutters. Keep a sound roof overhead by removing leaves, pine needles, and other debris from your rain gutters. Otherwise, trapped water may form harmful “ice dams” that can damage roofing shingles and create leaks — problems you certainly won’t want to deal with when the weather is bad.