Whether you’re ready for it or not, winter is here. Shorter days, less sun, snow and freezing temps can wreak havoc on your most important asset, your home. We’ve listed the Top 8 things to do to your home before things ice over.
- Attic Insulation: The most effective use of insulation is in the attic. According to the EPA, attics should have a minimum of R-38 insulation, which is typically between 10 and 14 inches deep. A properly insulated attic floor will prevent heated air in the rooms below from flowing into the attic, keeping the warm air where it belongs. Making sure your insulation is flat and not lumpy will also ensure the heat loss it left to a minimum. It’s equally important to install an insulated cover over the attic hatchway or stairway.
- Detect Air Leaks and Replace Weather Stripping: Inspect the weather stripping around all exterior doors to ensure that it’s in good shape and not ripped, crushed, or missing. Next, close the door and check for air-leaking gaps around all four edges of the door. Take a peek under the door. If you see sunlight shining through, you’ll need to either raise the threshold or install a door sweep. Still, feel a breeze but don’t know where it’s coming from? Take a long matchstick or stick of incense and slowly move it around the door. The smallest breeze will make the smoke move, showing you where the air is leaking in.
- Insulate Hot-Water Pipes: Reduce heat loss and save energy (and money!) by insulating your hot water pipes. The insulation will help keep the water hot inside the pipe, so your boiler or water heater won’t have to work so hard. Also, you won’t have to waste as much time or water waiting for hot water to flow out of the faucet or showerhead. Pipe insulation comes in two basic types: foam rubber sleeves that you place onto the pipe, as well as insulated wraps that you wrap around.
- Prevent Bursting Pipes: If you have an unfinished basement, make sure all of the windows and doors are fully closed. For those with crawl spaces, be sure to tightly close all vents and doors. If you currently have any garden hoses connected to the hose bibs, disconnect them. As water freezes, it expands and can cause (even a freeze-proof faucet) to burst if the water is trapped in there. The exterior faucets need to have their water supply turned off inside the house, and you also need to drain water from them by opening up the exterior faucets. If you are shutting down a property for several months to leave for the winter, you should always shut off the water supply and drain the plumbing system, too. If a leak were to occur when you are not there, the damage could be catastrophic.
- Gutters, Outside Land: Before any storm comes, as the last of the leaves fall, make sure you clean your gutters. Clear any debris off your roof and inspect for any needed repairs. It’s highly recommended to make the repairs now before the snow, water and ice make it worse.
- Replace Filters, Clear Vents and Make Space: Make it a priority to take time to check and replace your filters. Not only does this allow the units run more efficiently but also prevents premature failure. Check to make sure all your heating vents are clear, too. If they are in the floor, make sure that there are not any toys or items in or on top of them. Moving to the outside, make sure these vents are open and free of obstructions, too. A vent that hasn’t been used all summer may have become home to birds or other animals, which can block the vent pipes and interfere with the furnace’s ability to burn efficiently and properly vent exhaust gases. Don’t forget that you should have a minimum of 3-feet of clear area around all heaters and fireplaces, too.
- Check for Carbon Monoxide Leaks and Replace Alarm Batteries: This silent killer can easily be detected with either an inexpensive test badge or battery-operated alarm. If you discover problems, call in a professional to identify and correct the cause of the leak immediately. Usually, this involves leakage in the exhaust system of a furnace or other fuel-burning appliances, such as a water heater. Take time to replace all batteries in all fire and carbon monoxide alarms, as well. Test the alarm and replace it if needed.
- Reverse Ceiling Fans: You can use your ceiling fans to help with keeping your home warm by reversing the direction of the blades. In the winter, the blades should rotate clockwise. This rotation pushes the warm air down and recirculates it throughout the room. Doing this, and with your heater, your home will stay cozy all winter long.
If you don’t think you can find the time to winterize your home properly, be sure to contact professionals in the area to do so for you.