Winter is coming. Is your home ready? Follow these expert tips to make sure your home can stand up to the winter weather ahead.
Check ventilation system
One of the ways homeowners can prepare their homes for the winter is to check to make sure their home’s ventilation system is working properly. This means checking to make sure all heaters and pipes are not damaged.
A big issue with ventilation comes from the attic and the roof. If the roof has holes or leaks in it, it will disrupt the flow of air throughout the house. This causes the heater system to work much harder to keep the home warm. When you overwork the heater system, it gets more wear and tear while racking up your electric bills.
The best thing to do during this time is to have a professional roofer, plumber, and HVAC [specialist] comes by to inspect the areas of your home where problems with ventilation can be detected early on and fixed before winter comes.
Install a fresh furnace filter
Be sure to install a fresh furnace filter before the start of the winter. While replacing the filter spend a minute or so looking around the furnace to make sure you don’t hear any strange noises or see any leaks or any lights flashing that may indicate a problem. You’ll want to be sure the system is in optimal condition before heading into the winter.
Be sure to replace the humidifier pad with a fresh one if you have one installed on your furnace. After you have installed the new pad you’ll want to adjust the knob from off to about 40-50% humidity.
Adjust the setting on any ceiling fans you have in the house to run clockwise. If you look at the actual fan base you should see a small switch that you can flip to change the direction the fan turns.
If you have any exterior hose bibs outside I would recommend turning the valve interior shut off to avoid any potential issues with the bib freezing in the cold temperatures.
Start with these tips
Heating System Tune Up
Don’t wait until the brutal cold has set in to find out your heating system isn’t functioning properly. Have your heat pump or furnace inspected, serviced, and cleaned at the first sign of cooler temperatures.
Reverse Ceiling Fans
With cooler temperatures comes the need for homeowners to switch from air conditioning to heat and reverse the direction of their ceiling fans. Most ceiling fans have a reverse switch. Turn it so that the blades spin clockwise. This creates an updraft that will push warm air down from the ceiling. This is especially helpful for those with high ceilings.
Clean Your Gutters
Gutters that are full of leaves and debris will cause water to back up against your house and can damage the roof and siding. When the temperatures drop and water starts to freeze this can lead to leaks and ice dams throughout a home. Ensure water from the gutters is not only draining but also draining away from your home’s foundation. Add extensions to downspouts as needed to divert water away from the home, ideally four feet away from the foundation.
Heat Escape Points
Complete a walk-through of your home and look for places where heat can escape. Windows and doors are prime locations where homes lose heat. If there’s visible daylight around your doors add weather stripping to close the gaps. If you can see gaps that are wider than a nickel between the siding and windows it’s time to apply the new exterior caulk. The best caulk to use is silicone because it is designed to stand up to the harsh exterior elements.
Check attic ventilation
Ice dams occur when the attic space isn’t properly insulated or ventilated, and warm interior air goes into the attic (hot air rises). And when there is snow on the roof at the same time, this warm attic air can actually melt the snow on the roof. When this ‘melt water’ slides down the roof, it can re-freeze at the edge because it’s a cold spot.
This roof ice grows to form a ‘dam’ which holds back meltwater. Ice damming can cause significant damage to the roof, fascia, and even gutters. Significant water damage to a home can happen overnight.
The best defense against ice damming is to make sure that the attic has at least several inches of insulation, and that the attic ventilation system is working.
One common mistake is with the soffit and ridge vent system. If insulation is covering the soffit vents along the eaves, then the airflow can be disrupted, which also may lead to hot attic air and subsequent ice damming. Homeowners can prevent soffit vents from being covered with insulation by using cardboard baffles.
Don’t overlook the gutters
One of the most important parts of your home to check before winter is the roof and your gutters.
First of all, check around your home, and if you have any trees on the property inspect if the branches have grown too near the roof. It’s important that they don’t disrupt any cables on the roof, and that they aren’t in a position where a storm or a heavy wind could shift them and cause damage.
Look for branches hanging over electrical, telephone, or TV cables. Also, once it starts to snow, it can lead to cable breakage, and in the middle of winter, you don’t really need complications like that in your house.
One more tip concerning the yard is to bring in all the tools and garden equipment. During winter months the cold and the snow could damage them, so it’s best to secure them in your storage space and wait until nicer weather to bring them out.
Some people tend to overlook the gutters on your roof. It’s essential that you clean out any leaves, branches and the like. It’s important that water can get a clear path down, and cleaning the gutters will prevent water from accumulating on the roof, potentially making mold appear. While you’re at it, I would also recommend checking your roof tiles, just to make sure everything is as it should be before the cold and snow start being a part of our daily lives for a few months.
Installing weather stripping
Preparing for winter is so important for any homeowner and can save money from damage during the cold months.
Outside pipes that are left undrained can freeze, which causes the water to expand and can lead to a burst pipe. The damage can be extensive and is easy to avoid. Turn off the main supply that feeds the outdoor taps and then turn the tap on full until the flow completely stops. Turn the tap off tightly before turning the main supply back on. It may be worthwhile to cover the tap or tape it to prevent anyone from using it till winter has passed.
The end of fall signals the time to clear out gutters and, if not already in place, add a gutter guard. Gutters that are clogged with leaves or old bird nests will stop the flow of runoff water through the drain pipe and ultimately lead to external damage to the outside of the house.
Installing weather stripping or weather seals to doors, including the garage, can stop the flooding of the ground and lower ground levels.
Change your HVAC filter
Stock up on candles, blankets, and pillows. With colder months ahead, you’ll want to feel cozy in your home, and these three items are key. It also helps to keep your thermostat on lower temperatures than you would normally want because every degree will show up on your electricity bill. Try to open up the curtains on the sunny side of your home to let sunlight warm up the place.
If you have a ceiling fan, set it to push the air downwards, as hot air usually rises, so this will spread the heat throughout the room. Also, remember to change your HVAC filter, because if you don’t do that it won’t perform optimally, and it will show on your bill as well.
If you want to take things to the next level, you can find a professional to perform an energy audit on your home to see if you’re losing heat in some places. That way, you have a clear understanding of what areas you need to improve and how you can organize your things to optimize heat spread throughout the apartment or home.
Here’s winterization tips to remember
Winterization is the necessary preparation one must do for easier living during cold temperatures. As a result, it is important to make yourself aware of some common winterization tips:
- Inspect the leaks and cracks They can usually be found on windows and locks. Find the best ways to seal them to prevent further damage.
- Add an appropriate insulation layer in the coldest rooms of your house.
- Inspect and clean your furnace to make sure it is in the best shape and condition. Consider replacing it if it is outdated and does not serve the purpose. Also, don’t forget to check its filter.
- Add layers/[curtains] to the window to prevent heat loss. It also helps cut down on heating bills.
- Inspect and clean the clutter from the roof. This will prevent ice blockages
- Drain your pipes to avoid any pipe related repairs.
- Install a high tech thermostat to adjust your home temperatures. It also minimizes the electricity bill.
- Reverse your ceiling fan [so it turns] in the clockwise direction to push warm air downwards and facilitate proper airflow.
- Install a car starter to keep your car warm enough.
- Clean your yard. Remove dry leaves and debris.
- Check your winter equipment like brooms and shovels. Use an ice scraper to remove ice outside the walkway of your house.
- Buy survival gear to protect yourself from severe cold. Also stock up on food, water, and first-aid kits for combating weather emergencies.
Check and repair
The winter season can cause serious distress to the foundation of your home. Any foundation with a frost-susceptible backfill material up against it may suffer due to the expansive nature of clay soils, for example. As the clay freezes, it expands and can cause your foundation to heave and/or break.
Before winter, have any pre-existing structural issues repaired on the foundation of your structure. The best proactive measure is to have the foundation excavated, repaired, and waterproofed for peace of mind and in order to maintain your investment.
Check the door and window
Feel for breezes around the openings. As much as we want to believe it, our homes are not completely insulated. There are small spaces where the cold air can get in – and the heat can escape. Around doorways and windows is a major place where a ton of heat is lost.
When the temperature starts to drop, make your way around each door and window to see if you feel any cold air. Putting small pieces of insulation or cloth into small openings should help you keep your house warm (and maybe even reduce your heating bill). You can also put plastic up over windows to keep the heat in.
Set the thermostat (and leave it alone). By adjusting the thermostat up and down, you’re wasting money and making things tough on yourself. Find a nice temperature for you and your family and leave it. If you get a little chilly, don’t put it up a few degrees because you’ll just get warm and put it back down (which is a major waste of money).
If you get a little cold, just grab a sweater, blanket, and warm socks. Set it and forget it!
[Check] attic insulation
It is expert advice that attics should have a minimum of R-38 insulation which is 14 inches deep. This will give you two benefits when you are heating the room below:
- The heated air won’t escape.
- The cold air of the attic won’t enter the room you are heating.
Fix all the cracks on walls
Cold air filtration is something that can be cured by dealing with the cracks in your walls and plugging up holes. We suggest you use acrylic latex caulk. There are special services that identify and [address] air cracks.
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