Winter is on its way, and it is starting to become noticeably cooler at night. Before we know it, the snow will begin to fall and our fireplaces will be lit. For many of us, winter brings delicious meals, holiday celebrations, and family gatherings. Don’t compromise your winter fun with an unexpected home maintenance disaster. Prepare by winterizing your home to keep the water and cold out. We’ve prepared a to-do guide to help you winter proof your home.
Have a qualified HVAC professional inspect your home’s ducts. Before the cold sets in, it’s a good idea to your heater ducts inspected. The U.S. Department of Energy reported that 60% of the heat produced by a home’s central heating system can be lost before the heat even reaches the vents. Poor insulation and improperly connected ducts can allow the warm air to escape into your attic, which means that you’re losing a lot of warm air to empty space. If you decide to inspect your ducts yourself, repair pinches in the pipes and fix gaps with metal duct tape.
Replace your furnace filters monthly. During the cold season, be sure to change or clean your furnace filter every month. Dust and debris on the filter restricts airflow, which increases the amount of energy the furnace will use to warm up your home.
Check and clean your chimney. Before your first winter fire, inspect your fireplace’s chimney. Although you can check and clean the chimney yourself, we recommend using a professional. According to the National Fire Protection Association, “Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents [should] be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs [should] be done if necessary.” Routine inspections can prevent a catastrophic fire.
Weather-strip doors that lead to cold areas. Check all of the doors in your home that lead outside or to cold areas such as the attic and basement. Place a piece of paper in the door jam and close the door; if you’re able to easily pull the paper out, then you’re losing heat from the gaps in the door. Purchase stick-on weather stripping from any home improvement store to better insulate those gaps. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can be losing as much as 35% of your home’s heat out of these uninsulated spaces.
Wrap and insulate waterlines to prevent them from freezing. Inspect your home to locate exposed pipes in cold spaces such as the garage, basement, or crawlspaces. Wrap pipes with pre-molded foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation. These products can be found at any major home improvement center. Also, insulate the water tank and first six feet of hot and cold water pipes connected to the unit.
Change batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Change your smoke detector and CO detector batteries when you set your clocks back in November. During the cold months, we use our fireplaces and cooking devices more frequently, which increases the changes for CO poisoning and home fires. These easy to forget safety devices can save your family and your home; be sure they’re working properly.
Clean your gutters and downspouts before the rain sets in. There’s nothing worse than going out in the rain to clear a clogged gutter or downspout. Check your gutters and downspouts for accumulated leaves and debris every month, and clear them as necessary. Clogged gutters can result in a leaky roof and water damage.
Inspect your roof. Before the season’s first major downpour, inspect your roof for places where water can seep inside. Replace shingles that are curling, buckling, or cracking. This simple preventative step can save you thousands of dollars in water damage repairs.
Drain Lawn-Irrigation System and Garden Faucets. Before the first freeze, drain your lawn-irrigation system and outdoor faucets. This will keep the water inside the lines from freezing, which can cause the lines to burst.
Finally, and most importantly, have a warm and fun winter!