Freezing temperatures can cause unplanned disasters if your home is not ready for the temperature change. Creating and following a maintenance calendar is a great way to prepare your house for the colder months and may end up saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the long run. Here’s a helpful guide outlining a few tips and tricks to winter-proof your house and feel confident when you ask, “How do I winterize my home?”
Roof and Gutters
Don’t allow leaves to remain on the roof or gutters, check for damage to roof tiles, doors and windows at least every six months. As you notice blocked or full gutters, it is a good idea to clean out your gutters; if you have installed gutter guards, make sure they are swept clear of leaves that may block the guard. Many trees lose their leaves in the fall and if your gutters are full of leaves and limbs, the added weight can damage your gutters by blocking the down spouts. If it snows in the winter and subsequently melts, this added weight can cause additional damage your gutters, or even worse, cause water to enter your home and leak from the ceilings or into the walls of your home.
If you have exposed water pipes outside of your house, in an attic or crawl space, the more you can insulate the water pipes from freezing, the better. There are many options available: Fiberglass pipe wrap insulation, foil back cotton pipe insulation and pipe insulation tape; these pipe insulation materials are usually available from your local home improvement store. If you have concerns about doing it yourself, you can contact a local plumber for advice and assistance.
Check your furnace filters monthly and have your furnace cleaned and serviced annually. It is also a good idea to turn the furnace on to see if it works before you actually need it. There is seemingly nothing worse than watching the temperatures drop to a level where you need to turn on your furnace and then realizing that your VAC unit needs service. As you know, these types of furnace issues never seem to happen during normal business hours and an after-hours call is usually more expensive. Save yourself some time and money by checking these few things ahead of time.
Chimney and Fireplace
Servicing your fireplace and chimney maintenance annually is always a good idea. Along the same lines as furnace maintenance, add chimney service to your list of things to do to prepare for winter. Your chimney may not need to be swept annually; however, it should be inspected or serviced annually. It is also important to think about the draft that may travel through the fireplace during cold days. Make sure you have the appropriate guards and doors to keep out the cold air.
To prepare for cold winter drafts, consider adding additional window coverings (layer curtains) or seal your windows from drafts using rubber weather strips, draft snakes, cellular shades, caulking or window insulation film.
You can save some additional heating energy in your home during the winter by reversing the direction of your ceiling fans. Counterclockwise is normally used in spring and summer where clockwise sends the cooler air up and allows the warmer air to move down.
Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide detectors
Most new homes require hard-wired detectors with battery back-ups. If you don’t currently have a schedule for changing your smoke detector batteries, now is a great time to add it to the list.
The freezing temperatures do not have to cause unplanned disasters. Create a plan and follow a maintenance calendar and your house will be prepared for the colder months and you may very well end up saving a lot of money. For additional assistance with any of the tips discussed in this article, contact a local expert or visit your local home improvement store for help.
Feel free to post any additional tips and tricks that will help other homeowners prepare for the upcoming cold weather.