How To Winterize Your Home And Save Money!
This Sunday, November 7, 2010, the time will change and we “gain” one hour. How better to use that additional hour? Winterizing your home.
1) Check out your furnace. Have you had it inspected by a specialized HVAC technician to make sure it is running efficiently? Make sure the ducts are clean and the filter has been changed. It is recommended that instead of purchasing the more expensive filters, you buy the “cheap” one and change every month. It is truly better for your heating system, less expensive and cleaner!
2) Inspect your fireplace. Make sure the cap/screen on the top of the chimney is in good repair. If there is no screen have one installed to keep birds out which cause a possible fire danger from any nests they will build. If the flu has not been cleaned I highly recommend hiring a chimney sweep to make sure the creosote has not built up. Last year I had a flu fire! I ran outside to grab the hose to put out any fire that reached the wooden deck…the hose was frozen substantial! We quickly called 911 for the fire department as a precautionary measure. The fire burned itself out, however what I didn’t realize? The flu can get so hot that it could crack and allow fire to escape into the attic. I learned from experience that this is truly the more dangerous concern.
3) Check doors, windows, electrical outlets and anywhere a pipe is coming in to the house for escaping air. If you feel air coming inside use weather-stripping, caulk or expansion foam to seal. Replace any cracked glass in the windows. Add lined curtains to windows. Close them at night and open them during the day especially on the south and west sides of the house to allow the sun to warm the rooms. If you have storm windows have them installed. Many of us have low E double pane windows with gas between the panes for additional insulation. Over time, the seals can fail allowing the gas to escape. If you have a “haze” or moisture buildup between the panes replace the window. Check with the manufacturer for any warranties that came with the window. We were lucky to have a 10 year warranty and didn’t realize.
4) Inspect your roof, gutter and downspouts. If weather falls below 32 degrees the additional insulation in the attic will be money well spent. Ask a roofer to inspect the flashing to make sure water can not crawl under the shingles. Clean your gutters to make certain there is no leaf buildup and the downspouts are clear. I found 2 baseballs! I’m sure my kids were wondering where those went. Also, check gutters to make sure that over time the directional degree has not changed. The gutter should be slightly tilted toward the downspout. If this is not the case, water can build up at the back side of the gutter. I had this occur and when it froze some how upon melting the water backed up under the lowest shingle and leaked in to my garage. Thank goodness it was the garage!
5) Mechanical Check
- Drain gas from lawnmowers,
- service snow blowers,
- replace worn rakes and snow shovels,
- clean garden equipment (Take a 5 gallon bucket, fill with 18″ of sand and pour some old motor oil over the sand. The combination of sand and oil will do double duty on rakes/shovels/hoe in cleaning and oiling when you stab the implement over and over in to the combination.)
6) Seal any foundation fractures. Mice can slip by a space as thin as a dime. Make sure you have renewed your termite policy for the year in those areas where termites can be a problem.
7) Test your smoke detectors and install a carbon monoxide detector near the furnace or water heater. Buy a fire extinguisher or replace an extinguisher older than 10 years.
8) Locate your main water shut off in case of an emergency. If a plumbing line freezes and busts…you will be thankful you know where the shut off is located. Insulate exposed plumbing pipes. Drain all garden houses and disconnect hoses from the house. If you leave for vacation, leave the heat on and set to at the minimum 55 degrees. It would also be helpful if you open the cabinet doors covering any pipes that are located on outside walls for the heat to reach pipes more easily.
9) Seal driveway fractures-especially if you live in an area where temperatures will go below 32 degrees. Over time water will infiltrate the fractures/freeze and deteriorate your driveway.
10) Trim any tree branches that could fall on the house. Mulch your scenery beds. Move your tropical plants inside if the temperatures will reach halting or below. Seal your deck, but make certain the 24 hour temperature will not drop below 50 degrees.
11) Service your generator, buy additional batteries, round-up the flashlights and candles….just in case.
12) Enjoy your winter!