With the Farmer’s Almanac predicting the coldest periods will be in Late December- mid January, you don’t have much time to prepare your home for the harsh Winter. Taking care of the little things will make a big difference for your home and save costly repairs and aggravation later. Below is a list items to check and work on.
1: Prep the Plumbing
Drain the water from your outdoor faucets and garden hoses along with any in-ground sprinkler pipes. Store the garden hoses inside. Look for any pipes that are prone to freezing in the house and consider using heat tape to keep them warm during extremely cold weather. Knowing how to turn off the water at the source will minimize leaking when or if a pipe bursts.
2: Clean Out the Gutters and Downspouts
Leaves, if left, will clog gutters and downspouts and can form ice dams that prevent your drainage systems from working properly. This can lead to water penetrating into your home, which can lead to all sorts of issues and extra energy costs. Save yourself the hassle by simply cleaning your gutters and downspouts now. Test for blockage or misalignments that could also cause water damage by running water through the gutters.
3: Get your fireplace ready. Be sure to have the chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional before the first frost. Also, have a professional perform a routine check of the heating systems before cold weather arrives. This should include vacuuming the vents and other heating components. If your furnace has a filter, check to see if it needs replacing.
4:Keep the Outside Air Out and the Inside Air In
The majority of savings will come from ensuring there are no air leaks in your home. Warm air will escape out of any cracks and can make your heating system work harder and cost you more to heat your home. Use caulk/sealant to clog openings between doorframes and weather stripping to seal components that move, like windows. Don't overlook the basement. If doorstops are worn, replace them. If any pipes or ducts travel through an exterior wall, be sure to use caulking and weather-stripping around all entry points. These steps will block any potential entry points for cold air.
5:TLC To Your Furnace
Before the cold weather descends and you must reluctantly switch the furnace on, give it some Tender Loving Care. Clean your furnace annually each Fall. Sediment build-up can cause your system to work less efficiently or potentially become a fire-hazard. Cleaning your system and getting it inspected will reduce the risks. Throughout the year, try to change your filter regularly; a dirty filter will decrease air flow and energy-efficiency. If your furnace is ready to be replaced, buy an energy-efficient model. It will save you money and energy each month and you get a tax break from Uncle Sam for having a energy-efficient furnace. Just as important is the humidifier, make sure it is in working condition. Your ducts are often times out of sight, out of mind, hidden away in the attic or basement, but homes with central heating can lose about 20% of the air that moves through the duct system. Make sure your ducts are in order by properly sealing and insulating them. Tightly sealed and insulated ducts can potentially reduce your annual energy.