Winter has arrived. You can tell by the bare trees, early nights, and layer of frost every morning. If you haven’t winterized your home yet, there's still time. Follow these winterization tips to keep your home safe, efficient and warm all winter.
1. Plan for Maintenance for Your Heating System
Your furnace has been unused all summer. To prepare it for another heating season, arrange for a visit from a qualified technician to inspect, clean and service the equipment. The most affordable way to keep your heating system in great shape through the years is to subscribe to a Maintenance+ membership.
2. Have Your Fireplace Inspected
Get a professional to inspect and clean your wood-burning stove or fireplace annually. This service removes 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 suitable condition.
3. Seal Air Leaks
As you get ready to run your furnace all winter, look for and seal air leaks that allow cold outdoor air to get inside. The quickest way to notice leaks is to hold a lit candle or incense stick all around areas that might be leaky, like 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 circulate warm air down to the living space over the winter. For the best results, set your fans on low and flip the switch to run them in reverse. This method is most effective in stairwells and rooms with vaulted ceilings.
5. Install Insulating Drapes
An additional way to winterize your home is to swap out light, summery window coverings for heavy, insulating drapes. Make 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 frigid night air.
6. Insulate Your Pipes
As the temperature falls, exposed pipes are at risk of freezing and bursting. Add foam pipe insulation to plumbing in the garage, crawlspace or unfinished basement to minimize the risk. Electric heat tape beneath the insulation creates an added layer of protection in very frigid 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 during the winter. Use caution with matches, candles and other open flames, and make sure your smoke alarms are working. Then, install CO detectors on every floor of your home, primarily outside sleeping areas. Test your alarms each month and replace the batteries twice a year.
8. Upgrade to a Programmable Thermostat
Do you still own an old analog thermostat? You might save on heating bills this winter by getting a programmable model. Pre-programmed settings fine-tune the temperature at various times of the day, so you can set it and forget it. A Wi-Fi thermostat is an innovative option with the capability to modify 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 form along the eaves, stopping melted snow from melting off the roof. Left alone, ice dams can allow water to reach under the shingles and damage things in the attic. Use these tips to prevent ice dams this winter:
- Clean the gutters so water can drain like it's supposed to.
- Ventilate the attic to stop heat buildup that can melt snow from beneath.
- Seal attic floor penetrations to stop warm air from rising through the ceiling.
- Insulate the attic floor to further restrict heat transfer through the ceiling.
- Seal and insulate ductwork inside the attic.
- Make sure your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans and the dryer vent lead outside the house, not into the attic.
10. Keep Deicer on Hand
Slips and falls are more common in freezing winter weather. Keep your sidewalks and driveway safe to walk on by applying salt, kitty litter or chemical deicer on the pavement to melt the ice and snow. Remember to read the directions for correct application tips and suggested precautions.
Winterizing Your Home with Barlow Service Experts
Many winterization tips relate primarily to your home heating, cooling,and plumbing equipment. If you need help winterizing your home, reach out to Barlow Service Experts. We offer affordable furnace maintenance and repair, plumbing work, and other services to prepare the house for cold weather. For more info about our services or to schedule an estimate, please contact your local Barlow Service Experts office today.