After an unusually mild autumn, the cold weather is here. Now is the time to get your house ready for winter.
Here is a quick and inexpensive maintenance guide:
- The heat is on: Don’t be the 25th caller in line for furnace or heat pump repairs when the freezing period of the season arrives. Have your furnace or heat pump system inspected now so that it is clean, in good working condition and able to achieve its manufacturer-rated efficiency.
Most inspectors will also measure carbon monoxide leakage. Many heating/air-conditioning contractors are offering special deals on seasonal tune-ups right now.
- Fan fest: Hot air rises, so now is the time to reverse your ceiling fan rotation. The fan’s blades should run in a clockwise direction after your heat is turned on. According to Energy Star, your fan will produce an updraft and push down the heated air near the ceiling.
This is particularly helpful in rooms with high ceilings and may even allow you to nudge your thermostat down a degree or two for some savings.
- Up on the rooftop: Damaged, loose or missing roof shingles are a source for water problems during winter storms and after melting snow. Take the first step toward preventing these issues this winter by scanning your roof with a pair of binoculars.
If need be, a handyman can usually repair a few shingles.
- Draft day: On average, 10 to 25 percent of a home’s heat escapes through drafty windows and doors. Even a gap as slim as the width of a nickel lets in enough cold air to lower your home’s energy efficiency. GE’s Silicone II window and door caulk seals exterior gaps in only three hours and is available at local home improvement and hardware stores for under $10.
Before you go to the store, check to see if you need to buy some weather stripping for your doors. (To determine if you need to add some, make sure there is no visible daylight around the doorframe from inside your home.)
- Flue shot: There’s nothing better than gathering with family and friends for the holidays — especially in front of a roaring fire. Before you send out your holiday greetings and invitations to celebrate, make sure your fireplace (or any heating appliance that burns gas, oil, wood or coal), chimney and vents are clean and in good condition.
This is a job for a professional, but the money spent on inspection and cleaning is a sound investment to prevent chimney fires and stop carbon monoxide from creeping into your home.
- It’s a drain: Turn off your exterior faucets — undrained water in pipes can freeze, causing the pipes to burst as the ice expands. To begin, simply disconnect your garden hoses and drain the water that remains in the faucets.
If your home is more than 10 to 15 years old, you likely don’t have frost-proof faucets, so turn off the shut-off valve inside your home.
- Pump it up: If you have a sump pump, now is a good time to test it. Slowly pour several gallons of water into the sump pit to see if the pump turns on. This should be done every few months, but especially after a long dry season.
Most pumps today last about 10 years, so keep this in mind if you have been living in your home a while.
With these winterization tips, you’ll save energy, reduce maintenance headaches and ensure the safety of your family — without spending much money.