The weather may still be warm enough to venture out without a warm jacket, but Old Man Winter will be making an appearance before long. So now is the time to start thinking about winterizing your home. Here is a list to get you started.
Inspect your furnace
Turn on your furnace now, before it gets cold and you’ll be needing the heat. It’s normal for a strong odor to be present when you fire up your furnace for the first time of the season, but if it lingers, have your furnace checked immediately. Also keep your ears peeled for any unusual sounds. Be sure to change the filter (it should be checked monthly year-round) and if you don’t already have one, invest in a programmable thermostat. It’s also a good idea to have your system serviced by an HVAC professional.
Winterize your hose bibs
Drain hoses and turn off the water to your hose bibs with the shut-off valve located inside your house. Remove the hose from the spigot and store it out of the elements.
Inspect your roof, gutters & downspouts
Thoroughly clean your gutters and spray water down the downspouts to clear out any debris. If possible, install leaf guards. This will help keep gutters clear and make winterizing your home easier next year. Another cost saving measure: Add extra insulation to your attic to prevent heat loss through the roof, which can melt snow and cause ice dams. Be sure to replace any damaged or worn shingles or tiles.
Change the direction on your ceiling fans
During the winter, reverse the rotation of your ceiling fans so that the warm air being pumped out of your furnace is pushed downward and forced to recirculate. When you’re looking at your fan from below, it should be circulating in a clockwise direction. This one simple step will help keep you toasty warm and improve energy efficiency.
Inspect the exterior, doors & windows
Check the exterior of your home for any cracks, crevices, or entry points around pipes, and seal them. If you have storm windows, now is the time to install them. Plug up any drafts around exterior doors with weather stripping, and caulk any gaps between window frames.
Prevent plumbing freezes
Wrap any exposed pipes on exterior walls with insulating materials, as well as exposed pipes that run through any unheated portion of your home. Now is also a good time to find your main water shut-off valve if you don’t already know its location. Nothing puts a damper on Thanksgiving dinner like a flood in your dining room.
Prepare your fire place
Call a chimney sweep to come inspect your chimney and clean it, if necessary. If you don’t already have one, put a cap on the chimney to keep out animals and debris. Check the damper to ensure proper operation. When you’re not using your fireplace, close the damper. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, now is the time to chop wood or purchase it for delivery. If you have a gas stove, light the pilot light and test operation. If you’re not sure how to light the pilot, call a professional to come do it. Don’t mess around with natural gas if you’re not 100% confident about what you’re doing.
You should get in the habit of replacing the batteries on all smoke alarms when the time changes in the Spring and Fall. You should also test the operation of your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms at the same time. If you don’t already have one, purchase a fire extinguisher (or even better, one for each floor of your home). And if you do have one, replace it if it’s more than ten years old or the gauge on it reads at the low end. Smoke detectors should also be replaced about every ten years.