Winter is finally here. You can tell by the leafless trees, early sunsets, and layer of frost every morning. If you haven’t winterized your home yet, there's still time. Use these winterization tips to keep your home safe, efficient and warm during winter.
1. Request Maintenance for Your Home's Heating
Your furnace has been dormant all summer. To make preparations for another heating season, schedule a visit from a qualified technician to evaluate, clean and tune up the equipment. The most cost-effective way to keep your heating system in good shape through the years is to sign up for a Maintenance+ membership.
2. Have Your Fireplace Inspected
Get a professional to examine and clean your wood-burning stove or fireplace once a year. This service takes care of ash, soot and creosote buildup, which can cause chimney fires. It also provides you peace of mind that the masonry, chimney liner, crown, and other fireplace components are in excellent condition.
3. Seal Air Leaks
As you get ready to run your furnace more often, search for and seal air leaks that will allow cold outdoor air to get inside. The easiest way to find leaks is to hold a lit candle or incense stick in areas that could be leaky, including near windows and doors, recessed light fixtures, plumbing penetrations and electrical outlets. Then, seal the leaks up 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 circulate warm air down to the living space in the winter. For the 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 light, summery window coverings for heavy, insulating drapes. Be sure to pull back the drapes during the day so the sun continues warming your home for free. Then, close the curtains after dark for added insulation against the brisk night air.
6. Insulate Your Pipes
As the temperature falls, exposed pipes are in danger of freezing and bursting. Put in foam pipe insulation to plumbing in the garage, crawlspace or unfinished basement to prevent this. Electric heat tape underneath the insulation creates an extra layer of protection in particularly 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 during the winter. Be careful 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, especially near sleeping areas. Test your alarms monthly and swap out the batteries twice a year.
8. Upgrade to a Programmable Thermostat
Do you still own an old analog thermostat? You can save on heating bills this winter by upgrading to a programmable model. Pre-programmed settings fine-tune the temperature throughout the day, so you can set it and forget it. A Wi-Fi thermostat is an innovative option with the capability to change the settings remotely with an internet-enabled device. You also benefit from automatically generated energy reports and maintenance tips.
9. Prevent Ice Dams
Ice dams are ridges of ice that form along the eaves, blocking melted snow from falling off the roof. Left alone, ice dams can allow water to get 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's supposed to.
- Ventilate the attic to avoid 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.
- Ensure your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans and the dryer vent lead outdoors, not into the attic.
10. Keep Deicer Handy
Slips and falls are particularly common in cold winter weather. Keep your sidewalks and driveway safe by sprinkling salt, kitty litter or chemical deicer across the pavement to melt the ice and snow. Remember to read the directions for proper application tips and recommended precautions.
Winterizing Your Home with McElroy Service Experts
Many winterization tips relate directly to your home heating, cooling,and plumbing systems. If you need help winterizing your home, reach out to McElroy Service Experts. We offer quality furnace maintenance and repair, plumbing work, 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 McElroy Service Experts office today.