A Pro’s 5-step guide to cold weather preparation
While the degree and type of impact may vary, winter weather affects properties and residents in every region. Unfortunately, most homeowners only realize that they have not taken the proper cold weather preparation steps when it is too late, and they either are staring at several feet of snow or gasping at an extraordinarily high utility bill.
November is the perfect time to help your clients with the cold weather preparation for the approaching winter season. Proactive maintenance not only identifies trouble spots before they escalate, but also provides an opportunity to consult – and upsell – your clients on improvements that can deliver the comforts of a warm home at a reasonable expense.
The following five areas should be on every Pro’s cold weather preparation checklist.
Step 1: Close the gaps
Drafts are a primary nemesis for homeowners in the colder months. Many opt to simply crank up the heat to offset the entrance of bitter air – a quick fix, but one that eventually bears a significant cost.
Fortunately, draft prevention is a step that most clients can address themselves. Conduct a walk-through and show them how to look for holes, cracks and gaps that can invite drafts – doors, windows and siding particularly are susceptible to these discrepancies. Should areas need repair, foam sealants, weather strips and caulk can provide added insulation.
Step 2: Stabilize the roof
Given their size and elevated position, roofs and connected gutters are the home components most exposed to snow and ice, and the debris that comes with them. Any winterization inspection should begin with ensuring that the roof and gutters are sturdy and capable of withstanding accumulation, and replacing weak patches and links as necessary.
After validating structural strength, conduct a thorough cleaning to remove leaves and other materials that can prevent proper drainage and flood a home’s landscaping and foundation. To minimize the impact of ice dams, consider supplementing these efforts with a de-icing cable kit to offset ice dams and icicles and ensure gutters and downspouts flow in a consistent, streamlined pattern.
Step 3: Fortify the attic
Not surprisingly, attics positioned below a home’s roof are a haven for cold air that ultimately can reach other rooms. Fortunately, attics also are among the easiest to reinforce for winter weather. Adding extra layers of insulation to the attic can improve heat retention and localize incoming blasts. Blow-in insulation spread with a specialized machine is ideal, as it conforms to even the most complex attic designs. If applied properly, this enhancement can help clients slash energy costs by up to 20 percent both in the winter and throughout the year.
Step 4: Check the hot water heater
After exposure to the cold outdoors, your clients will want nothing more than a hot shower to warm up. A strong-performing hot water heater can help them achieve desired temperatures faster, and reduce the expenses and resources required to get there. If such maintenance has not been performed recently, recommend a full drain and flush of the home’s hot water heater to remove built-up sediment that can restrict proper water delivery.
In certain cases, particularly for older homes where the hot water heater underperforms or does not hold up to modern codes, a full replacement may be necessary. When making the switch, go with a tankless alternative to minimize future maintenance and ensure durable, consistent and winter-ready performance.
Step 5: Link thermostats with behavior
Why should your clients pay extra to heat rooms when they are away? Recommend an upgrade to a modern, smart thermostat that is programmable to match occupancy and movement trends. Your clients also will benefit from more a convenient energy management process. By syncing their smartphone with the system’s Wi-Fi enabled thermostat, they not only can monitor and adjust their home’s temperature settings from any location, but also receive instant notifications when filters need replacement or other potential performance problems emerge.
Often, successful cold weather preparation stems from thorough client consultation, and providing guidelines on how they can spot potential hazards before they become large-scale problems. In any case, clients will appreciate any precautionary measures that will spare them from the chills, frustrations and expenses that tend to accompany the season.
By Scott Matthews, Director, Strategic Accounts, The Home Depot
Scott Matthews is responsible for managing national accounts and e-commerce while overseeing business-to-business relationships. During his 25 years at The Home Depot, he has served in a variety of roles and capacities, including Regional Pro Sales Manager, District Manager and Store Manager.