As we enjoy the beautiful fall days, it’s hard to think about what’s coming next. But, winter is inevitable, and the cold and snow it brings will put a strain on your house. That’s why we’ve come up with these eight tips that can give you peace of mind and even save you money when the snow starts to fall and the temperatures drop.
1. Clean out the gutters.
Leaves and debris should be removed from gutters, either by hand or with a scraping tool. After that, give the gutters a good rinse with a hose. This will help prevent clogs, which in turn helps prevent water from backing up, freezing and seeping into your house. It’s also a good idea to ensure your downspouts are directing water away from the foundation to help prevent water damage.
2. Block those air leaks.
Winterize your home by finding and blocking air leaks inside and outside the house. How do you find leaks? Here’s one way: wait for a breezy day, then light an incense stick and hold it up to the most common drafty areas in a house — recessed lighting, window and door frames, and electrical outlets. To battle the leaks, put door sweeps underneath exterior doors and caulk those drafty spots. For electrical outlets that share a home’s outer walls, install outlet gaskets. You can also attack leaks from the outside by applying weather-resistant caulking.
3. Check the furnace.
It’s a good idea to fire up the furnace before it gets cold outside, just to make sure it works. And, change your filter – a dirty one makes the furnace work unnecessarily hard – and make sure to check the filter monthly during the winter.
4. Get your ducts in a row.
The U.S. Department of Energy says a home can lose up to 60 percent of its heated air before it even reaches the vents if ductwork is not well-connected and insulated, or if ducts are routed through unheated spaces. So take a look at ducts in the attic, the basement and crawlspaces, and repair them or fix gaps with metal-backed tape. Professional duct cleaning is a good idea every few years as well.
5. Address your windows.
It’s a good idea to take down screens and put up storm windows (if you have them) because they offer an additional layer of protection. If you don’t have storm windows, and your windows are leaky or drafty, consider using a window insulation kit. Or, if you have the financial means, you could decide to replace the windows.
6. Reverse your ceiling fans.
In the winter, your ceiling fan should be set to push warm air downward and force it to recirculate. Here’s how you know if your fan is set for winter: turn it on and watch the direction the blades spin. You want them moving clockwise in winter.
7. Wrap those pipes.
Avoid the nightmare of frozen pipes by remembering to shut off the water valves that feed your hose bibs. Draining the water lines is a great idea, too. Next, look around the house for pipes that aren’t insulated or that pass through unheated spaces. If you find any, wrap them with foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation. Heating tape can also be used if you’re very worried about a pip freezing up.
8. Check those alarms.
Check the operation of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and replace the batteries if needed. Fire officials recommend replacing detectors every 10 years. And while you’re thinking about it, check to see that your fire extinguisher is where it should be in case you ever need it.