Winter has arrived. You can tell by the barren trees, early sunsets, and layer of frost in the morning. If you haven’t winterized your home yet, you still have time. Follow these winterization tips to keep your home safe, efficient and warm all winter.
1. Plan for Maintenance for Your Heating System
Your furnace has been unused all summer. To prepare it for another heating season, schedule a visit from a qualified technician to inspect, clean and tune up the equipment. The most affordable way to keep your heating system in tip-top shape over the years is to sign up for a Maintenance+ membership.
2. Have Your Fireplace Inspected
Call a professional to examine and clean your wood-burning stove or fireplace once a year. This service clears away ash, soot and creosote buildup, which can result in chimney fires. It also grants you peace of mind that the masonry, chimney liner, crown, and other fireplace components are in excellent condition.
3. Seal Air Leaks
As you prepare to run your furnace all winter, search for and seal air leaks that enable cold outdoor air to get inside. The quickest way to discover leaks is to hold a lit candle or incense stick near areas that could be leaky, like 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. Keep Ceiling Fans in Reverse
Ceiling fans keep you cool during the summer, but they can also distribute 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 strategy is ideal for stairwells and rooms with vaulted ceilings.
5. Install Insulating Drapes
A different way to winterize your home is to exchange light, summery window coverings for thick, insulating drapes. Make sure to pull back the drapes during the day so the sun warms your home for free. Then, pull the curtains after dark for increased insulation against the cold night air.
6. Insulate Your Pipes
As the temperature dips, exposed pipes are in danger of freezing and bursting. Add foam pipe insulation to plumbing in the garage, crawlspace or unfinished basement to prevent this. Electric heat tape under the insulation gives you an added layer of protection in especially frigid 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 over the winter. Be careful with matches, candles and other open flames, and make sure your smoke alarms are functional. Then, install CO detectors on every floor of your home, especially close to sleeping areas. Test your alarms each month and replace the batteries twice a year.
8. Upgrade to a Programmable Thermostat
Do you still have an old analog thermostat? You could save on heating bills this winter by installing a programmable model. Pre-programmed settings optimize the temperature at different times of the day, so you can set it and forget it. A Wi-Fi thermostat is a modern option where you can modify the settings remotely using 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 appear along the eaves, stopping melted snow from melting off the roof. Left unaddressed, ice dams can allow water to flow under the shingles and damage structural elements in the attic. Use these tips to deter 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 below.
- Seal attic floor penetrations to stop heated air from rising through the ceiling.
- Insulate the attic floor to further restrict heat transfer through the ceiling.
- Seal and insulate ductwork inside the attic.
- Ensure your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans and the dryer vent lead outside the house, not into the attic.
10. Keep Deicer Close By
Slips and falls are particularly common in icy winter weather. Keep your sidewalks and driveway safe by applying salt, kitty litter or chemical deicer across the pavement to melt the ice and snow. Be sure to read the directions for proper application tips and recommended precautions.
Winterizing Your Home with BW/Cook Service Experts
Many winterization tips relate closely to your home heating, cooling,and plumbing utilities. If you need help winterizing your home, contact BW/Cook Service Experts. We offer affordable furnace maintenance and repair, plumbing work, and other services to prepare the house for winter. For more information about our services or to schedule an estimate, please contact your local BW/Cook Service Experts office today.