Winter has arrived. You can tell by the barren trees, early evenings, and layer of frost each morning. If you haven’t winterized your home yet, there's still time. Follow these winterization tips to keep your home safe, efficient and warm this winter.
1. Request Maintenance for Your Heating System
Your furnace has been inactive all summer. To get it ready for another heating season, schedule a visit from a qualified technician to examine, clean and service the equipment. The most cost-effective way to keep your heating system in great shape over the years is to sign up for a Maintenance+ membership.
2. Have Your Fireplace Inspected
Hire a professional to evaluate and clean your wood-burning stove or fireplace annually. This service removes ash, soot and creosote buildup, which can cause chimney fires. It also gives you peace of mind that the masonry, chimney liner, crown, and other fireplace components are in excellent condition.
3. Seal Air Leaks
As you start to run your furnace in cold weather, look for and seal air leaks that enable cold outdoor air to get inside. The easiest way to notice leaks is to hold a lit candle or incense stick in areas that could be leaky, including near windows and doors, recessed light fixtures, plumbing penetrations and electrical outlets. Then, seal the leaks you find with weatherstripping, caulk, foam gaskets and expanding spray foam.
4. Use Ceiling Fans in Reverse
Ceiling fans keep you cool over the summer, but they can also distribute warm air down to the living space in the winter. For better results, set your fans on low and find the switch that lets them spin in reverse. This tactic is most effective in stairwells and rooms with high ceilings.
5. Install Insulating Drapes
A different way to winterize your home is to exchange delicate, summery window coverings for thick, insulating drapes. Be sure to pull back the drapes during the day so the sun warms your home for free. Then, close the curtains after dark for increased insulation against the cold night air.
6. Insulate Your Pipes
As the temperature drops, exposed pipes are vulnerable to freezing and bursting. Put in foam pipe insulation to plumbing in the garage, crawlspace or unfinished basement to keep this from happening. Electric heat tape under the insulation gives you an extra layer of protection in very cold climates.
7. Install Smoke Alarms & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Sealing up your house, baking more and heating with combustion appliances elevates the risk of home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning in the winter. Use caution with matches, candles and other open flames, and make sure your smoke alarms are functioning. Then, install CO detectors on every floor of your home, primarily near sleeping areas. Test your alarms monthly and change the batteries every six months.
8. Upgrade to a Programmable Thermostat
Do you still have an old analog thermostat? You can save on heating bills this winter by getting a programmable model. Pre-programmed settings fine-tune the temperature at different times of the day, so you can set it and forget it. A Wi-Fi thermostat is a high-tech option where you can change 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, preventing melted snow from melting off the roof. Left alone, ice dams can allow water to reach under the shingles and damage structures in the attic. Try these tips to avoid ice dams this winter:
- Clean the gutters so water can flow like it's supposed to.
- Ventilate the attic to prevent heat buildup that can melt snow from below.
- Seal attic floor penetrations to stop hot air from rising through the ceiling.
- Insulate the attic floor to further decrease heat transfer through the ceiling.
- Seal and insulate ductwork running through the attic.
- Ensure your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans and the dryer vent lead outdoors, not into the attic.
10. Keep Deicer Close By
Slips and falls are notably common in cold winter weather. Keep your sidewalks and driveway safe to walk on by applying salt, kitty litter or chemical deicer across the pavement to melt the ice and snow. Be sure to read the directions for specific application tips and any potential precautions.
Winterizing Your Home with McKinley Heating Service Experts
Many winterization tips relate directly to your home heating, cooling,and plumbing systems. If you need help winterizing your home, contact McKinley Heating Service Experts. We offer quality furnace maintenance and repair, plumbing work, and other services to prepare your home for cold weather. For more details about our services or to schedule an estimate, please contact your local McKinley Heating Service Experts office today.