Winter has arrived. You can tell by the bare trees, early sunsets, and layer of frost in the morning. If you haven’t winterized your home yet, you still have time. Follow these winterization tips to keep your home safe, efficient and warm this winter.
1. Schedule Maintenance for Your Home's Heating
Your furnace has been inactive all summer. To make preparations for another heating season, arrange for a visit from a qualified technician to evaluate, clean and tune up the equipment. The most cost-efficient way to keep your heating system in tip-top shape through the years is to enroll in a Maintenance+ membership.
2. Have Your Fireplace Inspected
Hire a professional to inspect and clean your wood-burning stove or fireplace annually. This service takes care of ash, soot and creosote buildup, which can result in chimney fires. It also gives you peace of mind that the masonry, chimney liner, crown, and other fireplace components are in excellent condition.
3. Seal Air Leaks
As you prepare to run your furnace more often, search for and seal air leaks that allow cold outdoor air to get inside. The easiest way to find leaks is to hold a lit candle or incense stick near areas that may be leaky, such as near windows and doors, recessed light fixtures, plumbing penetrations and electrical outlets. Then, seal the leaks you've found with weatherstripping, caulk, foam gaskets and expanding spray foam.
4. Keep Ceiling Fans in Reverse
Ceiling fans keep you cool during the summer, but they can also disperse warm air down to the living space during the winter. For best results, set your fans on low and find the switch that lets them spin in reverse. This method is most effective in stairwells and rooms with tall ceilings.
5. Install Insulating Drapes
Another way to winterize your home is to exchange delicate, summery window coverings for thick, insulating drapes. Be sure to pull back the drapes during the day so the sun warms your home for free. Then, shut the curtains after dark for increased insulation against the cold night air.
6. Insulate Your Pipes
As the temperature drops, exposed pipes are vulnerable to freezing and bursting. Add foam pipe insulation to plumbing in the garage, crawlspace or unfinished basement to prevent this. Electric heat tape under the insulation creates an additional layer of protection in especially cold climates.
7. Install Smoke Alarms & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Sealing up your house, baking more and heating with combustion appliances raises the risk of home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning over the winter. Be careful with matches, candles and other open flames, and make sure your smoke alarms are functioning. Then, add CO detectors on every floor of your home, especially near sleeping areas. Test your alarms each month and change the batteries twice yearly.
8. Upgrade to a Programmable Thermostat
Do you still use an old analog thermostat? You can save on heating bills this winter by getting a programmable model. Pre-programmed settings optimize the temperature throughout the day, so you can set it and forget it. A Wi-Fi thermostat is a modern option with the capability to change the settings remotely by using an internet-enabled device. You also benefit from automatically generated energy reports and maintenance recommendations.
9. Prevent Ice Dams
Ice dams are ridges of ice that appear along the eaves, preventing melted snow from melting off the roof. When ignored, ice dams can allow water to get under the shingles and damage structural elements in the attic. Use these tips to prevent ice dams this winter:
- Clean the gutters so water can flow like it's supposed to.
- Ventilate the attic to stop heat buildup that can melt snow from below.
- Seal attic floor penetrations to stop hot air from rising through the ceiling.
- Insulate the attic floor to further decrease heat transfer through the ceiling.
- Seal and insulate ductwork up in the attic.
- Confirm your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans and the dryer vent lead outside, not into the attic.
10. Keep Deicer on Hand
Slips and falls are particularly common in cold winter weather. Keep your sidewalks and driveway safe to walk on by sprinkling salt, kitty litter or chemical deicer across the pavement to melt the ice and snow. Be sure to read the directions for proper application tips and recommended precautions.
Winterizing Your Home with Fras-Air/General Service Experts
Many winterization tips relate primarily to your home heating, cooling,and plumbing equipment. If you need help winterizing your home, call Fras-Air/General Service Experts. We offer quality furnace maintenance and repair, plumbing support, and other services to prepare you for winter. For more information about our services or to schedule an estimate, please contact your local Fras-Air/General Service Experts office today.