Winter is finally here. You can tell by the leafless trees, early evenings, and layer of frost every morning. If you haven’t winterized your home yet, you still have time. Run through 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 unused all summer. To get it ready for another heating season, arrange for a visit from a qualified technician to examine, clean and service the equipment. The most affordable way to keep your heating system in tip-top shape through the years is to subscribe to a Maintenance+ membership.
2. Have Your Fireplace Inspected
Get a professional to evaluate and clean your wood-burning stove or fireplace once per year. This service removes ash, soot and creosote buildup, which can result in chimney fires. It also provides you peace of mind that the masonry, chimney liner, crown, and other fireplace components are in suitable condition.
3. Seal Air Leaks
As you start to run your furnace in cold weather, look for and seal air leaks that will allow cold outdoor air to get inside. The best way to discover leaks is to hold a lit candle or incense stick in areas that may be leaky, including 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. Use Ceiling Fans in Reverse
Ceiling fans keep you cool over the summer, but they can also distribute warm air down to the living space during the winter. For better results, set your fans on low and flip the switch to run them in reverse. This method is best used in stairwells and rooms with high ceilings.
5. Install Insulating Drapes
An additional way to winterize your home is to swap out thin, 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, close the curtains after dark for increased insulation against the brisk night air.
6. Insulate Your Pipes
As the temperature drops, exposed pipes are in danger of freezing and bursting. Install foam pipe insulation to plumbing in the garage, crawlspace or unfinished basement to prevent this. Electric heat tape under the insulation provides an additional 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 elevates the risk of home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning over the winter. Exercise 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, particularly close to sleeping areas. Test your alarms monthly and swap out the batteries twice yearly.
8. Upgrade to a Programmable Thermostat
Do you still use an old analog thermostat? You might 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 an innovative option where you can adjust the settings remotely 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 develop along the eaves, blocking melted snow from falling off the roof. Left alone, ice dams can allow water to flow under the shingles and damage structures in the attic. Try these tips to prevent ice dams this winter:
- Clean the gutters so water can clear away like it should.
- 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 decrease heat transfer through the ceiling.
- Seal and insulate ductwork running through the attic.
- Confirm your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans and the dryer vent lead outdoors, not into the attic.
10. Keep Deicer Handy
Slips and falls are more common in freezing winter weather. Keep your sidewalks and driveway safe to walk on by sprinkling salt, kitty litter or chemical deicer on the pavement to melt the ice and snow. Don't forget to read the directions for specific application tips and suggested precautions.
Winterizing Your Home with Becht/Givens Service Experts
Many winterization tips relate primarily to your home heating, cooling,and plumbing systems. If you need help winterizing your home, call Becht/Givens Service Experts. We offer excellent furnace maintenance and repair, plumbing support, and other services to prepare your home for cold weather. For more information about our services or to request an estimate, please contact your local Becht/Givens Service Experts office today.