Change in the weather a harbinger for making those winter-time adjustments

#122 in a series of true experiences in real estate
November 1995, Hills Newspapers

It’s fall, the air is cooler, winter is coming. We haven’t turned on our furnace yet, and I’m not looking forward to higher bills. I know that the back bedroom is colder than the rest of the house and I probably should call the furnace man to ask if he can re-balance the heat. I haven’t called yet though because thinking of the cold made me remember some other things.

Weather stripping, for instance. There are five sets of French doors in my house, a lot of glass, a lot of cold air. The doors in the bedroom hallways are especially leaky. I can see out through the gaps between the doors.

Maybe I should call the insulation man, talk to him about the weather stripping, but surely, I could do this work myself. It must be simply a matter of buying the strips, cutting them and nailing then on. But some of the doors still have old, flaking paint on them. They need scraping and sanding. It would be a shame to put weather stripping on and then have to remove it later or carefully paint around it.

Drapes may be the answer, drapes to pull across the doors and keep out the drafts. But when I look at what is offered in the catalogs, I realize why I haven’t bought them already. They’re mostly ugly, expensive, require rods, and they cover up some parts of the windows and frames even when they’re open.

This summer I got my good painter person to caulk cracks in the wood siding and repaint them. I’ve been present at enough inspections, listened to the inspector, to know that cracks on the outside of houses have to be fixed. I even got the painter to apply new sealer on the unpainted wood steps.

And I’ve changed the furnace filter, checked the batteries in the smoke detectors, and set the clocks back.

Last year we had some water on part of the basement floor. It lifted the paint and made a mess which I never got around to fixing. But if I move the boxes from there to higher ground, everything should be fine until spring.

The garden looks weary, still some color but plants are lanky, leaning for light. The zinnias look worn, the cosmos ragged too. It’s always hard for me to decide when to cut them back or pull them out. I hope I manage before it is rainy and muddy and cold.

It’s good to get the leaves off the ground they say. If left there, they provide places for bugs and slugs to lay over during winter. There are still tomatoes on the vine but sometime soon I should pull these out too. Then I can plant spring bulbs, can plant them if I buy some, which I haven’t done yet. Maybe I’ll get to the nursery this weekend, find some new tulip bulbs, maybe some Iceland poppies, too. Now is the time to plant them, they do much better if they are planted in the fall, and I do love the clear colors of the poppies.

The gutters are clean. Hopefully the rainwater will be carried along and away from the house. But I must put the splash blocks back in place under the downspouts and scoop up the pine needs that will slow down run-off around the sides of the house.

The chimney was cleaned about a year ago, probably doesn’t need it again yet. I’ve cut up and stored small tree limbs to use for kindling and I have plenty of firewood. The wood is dry now but it is uncovered, so I guess I’d better get some tarps to cover the piles. I do hope they’re making tarps this year in a something other than that awful sharp blue plastic because it looks so foreign in the soft winter landscape.

I know they say that fireplace fires don’t contribute to warmth, that they may have the opposite effect, but I don’t believe it. It certainly feels warmer to me when there’s a fire in the fireplace.

Even in summer my kids complain that I keep the windows open, that they’re cold. They shroud themselves in blankets while they watch TV, sticking a hand out now and then to change the channel. They sleep under piles of covers, sometimes (it seems to me) inside too-hot sleeping bags. For winter, they’ll need the extra blankets.

The roof is good but we opened the ceilings in the main rooms which probably means we lose a lot of heat through the roof. I do like the look of the golden-colored fir roof sheathing and the new fir beams. They make for a cabin-sort of look. I’m told that insulation could be added with a new roof, but this roof doesn’t need replacing now, thank goodness. Better insulation will have to wait for another time, and found money.

Ah well, extra sweaters, slippers, and a pot of soup on the stove steaming up the windows. We’ll be fine and cozy.

This entry was posted in Home Life & Home Maintenance. Bookmark the permalink. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

  • Sign up to receive our newspaper columns: