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We have officially transitioned into winter — a time of year when a slew of unbeknownst issues in your home can suddenly rear their heads.
Drafts might appear in windows. Tools could stop working. Squeaks and rust and pests might pop out of nowhere. But you can get ahead of these issues with some simple tricks.
To talk about easy wintertime home improvements, TODAY tapped Kristy Kay for her expert advice. The award-winning interior designer has been renovating homes since she was 20 years old. She started her career when she was young, learning tricks from her dad, who was a builder. Over the years, Kristy has lived in and flipped 17 homes, accruing a wealth of home improvement knowledge.
Here, Kristy shares a few cheap fixes to winterize your home and keep everything running smoothly until spring.
Fuel stabilizer is the miracle tool you didn’t know you needed. Adding the liquid to the gas tank of tools like lawn mowers, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers and gas-powered generators will increase their life. Before you put away the tools for winter, add some fuel stabilizer to protect the tank from erosion and ensure an easy start-up in the spring.
You’ll want about one ounce of the stabilizer fluid for every 2.5 gallons of gas. Add it when your tank is about 95% full, run your tool for about five minutes and then put it away — confident that it will start up again easy in the spring.
Don’t let your home become a wintertime horror story. When autumn leaves fall and clog up gutters, the water that’s trapped inside can turn to ice when temperatures drop. Sometimes, the weight of that ice can tear the gutters right off your house. Or, over time, that ice could make its way inside the walls, creating an even bigger problem. The simple fix costs less than $3 and keeps leaves from clogging up your gutters — potentially saving you from thousands of dollars’ worth of repair bills down the road.
With temperatures quickly dropping, now is the time to seal up your home from any gaps and cracks that could let in the cold — or small animals looking for a warm, new home. This easy-to-use spray foam insulator quickly expands and hardens to fill up gaps and cracks with a moisture-tight barrier. Use it on your home’s foundation, gaps between wood and cement or trim around windows.
This is the time of year to check all the batteries in all the important devices around your home. “During the winter, we're always putting on a fire, cooking up some comfort food — so you should really make sure your [carbon monoxide] and smoke detectors are working their best,” Kirsty said. Aim to have a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector in each room, or a plug-in unit that can detect both.
There is no shortage of ways to use the miraculous WD-40 around your home. Use it in door hinges to stop them from squeaking or freezing and on garden tools to protect them from rust or even to grease up a stubborn zipper. Use the can’s tiny red tube attachment to spray into hard-to-reach corners such as on outside furniture or even on winter boots to create a waterproof barrier. If you live in a snow city, you can even wipe it on the inside of your snow shovel to help it slide through frozen snow.
Basically anything that could use a bit of extra grease this winter could use some WD-40. And if you're in a bind and don't have any lying around, Kay says olive oil can be a great substitute on metal surfaces — but not glass since it will smear.
CORRECTION (Dec. 23, 2020, 12:16 p.m.): An earlier version of this article advised making sure your CO2 (carbon dioxide) detector is working and that you should aim to have one in each room. It should have stated CO, for carbon monoxide, and is now corrected to reflect this.
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