Polar Vortex Heading for Chicago, Use These Tips to Winterize Your Home

Polar Vortex Heading for Chicago, Use These Tips to Winterize Your Home

Chicago could see its first real blast of winter-like weather later this week, with forecasters calling for a possible return of the dreaded Polar Vortex.

The National Weather Service says the remnants of a super typhoon in the Pacific Ocean could push polar air over much of the Midwest, including Chicago.

Temperatures this week likely will top out in the lower 30s with overnight lows nearing single digits. Like the Polar Vortex systems of last winter, this week’s cold snap could remain for several days.

Prepare your home

With the threat of below average temperatures upon us, these could be the final days to prepare your home for winter. So, after you dig out the hats, scarves and gloves, consider these home improvement projects:

  • Inspect your furnace and chimney — If you’ve been putting off hiring an HVAC professional to tune-up your heating system for the season, now is the time to make that call. Colder temps mean your system will be working harder than ever, making failure even more likely. The same goes for your chimney. Before lighting the year’s first fire, call in a highly rated chimney sweep for a complete check-up. 
  • Clear your gutters — You might not realize it, but unless you invested in a protection system, your home’s gutters likely are full of leafs and debris from the past few weeks of windy fall weather. Get out the ladder this weekend and clear your gutters. Clogged gutters can lead to the formation of ice dams and roof damage.
  • Grab the caulk gun — Without properly sealed doors and windows, you’re sure to feel the discomfort of cold air and the increased energy costs that come with it. Caulk around leaky windows and inspect the weatherstripping around your doors. If your home has older, drafty windows, consider covering them with plastic film. 
  • Remove outdoor hoses — Unscrewing hoses from outdoor spigots will prevent the spigot and attached pipes from freezing over winter. You can also spray a foam insulation around the hose bib to prevent cold air from freezing the pipes inside your home’s walls. Make sure to also insulate any other pipes in your home exposed to cold air. 
  • Check your attic — Attics should have at least 12 inches of insulation. Take a few moments to measure yours, and call an insulation company if you need more. While you’re up there, shine a light around the perimeter to make sure animals aren’t trying to make their way inside. If you notice signs of infestation, make sure to call a animal removal company immediately before the critters have time to reproduce. 
  • Call a handyman — Finally, while many winterizing projects can be handled by a weekend warrior with a little bit of time and patience, it might make sense to call in a local handyman to make sure the work is done right. 

Is your home energy efficient? Hire an energy consultant to conduct a complete analysis.

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How to Stay Ahead of D.C.'s Polar Vortex


snow on capitol
Winter is approaching in D.C. as evidenced by this week's first polar vortex. (Photo courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol)

A polar vortex is expected to bring some winter weather this fall to the D.C. region. It's a great opportunity for home owners to prepare for winter's worst.

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