Now that fall is officially come and gone, it’s time to prepare your home for cold weather. Preparing your home for a long, cold winter is something every homeowner should consider before the season really takes hold. These steps, most of which you can do yourself, will help lower your utility bills and protect your investment.
Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
If your ceiling fan has a reverse switch, use it to run the fan’s blades in a clockwise direction after you turn on your heat. The fan will produce an updraft and push down the heated air into the room from the ceiling (remember, hot air rises). This is especially useful in rooms with high ceilings, and it might even allow you to turn down your thermostat by a degree or two for greater energy savings.
Clear Your Eaves
This is not a complicated task, but it’s an important job nonetheless. Clogged eavestroughs can lead to the formation of ice dams, which can tear off gutters, loosen shingles and leave your roof vulnerable to leaks. Simply climb to the edge of your roof and carefully dig out the debris. It’s not necessary to remove every small stone. The main purpose is to make sure nothing restricts the flow of water, and that no stagnant water remains in the gutters.
Prevent Ice Dams
If your home had lots of icicles last winter, or worse, ice dams, which can cause meltwater to back up and flow into your house, take steps to prevent potential damage this year. Get the assistance of a home-energy auditor or weatherization contractor. Have them fix the air leaks or inadequate insulation in your attic.
Check Your Roof
If you can’t get access to your roof, or prefer not to go on the roof, use binoculars to inspect the shingles. Look for damaged, loose or missing shingles that may leak during winter’s storms or from melting snow.
Caulk Windows and Doors
If the gaps between siding and window or door frames are bigger than the width of a nickel, you need to reapply exterior caulk. (Check the joints in window and door frames, too.) Silicone caulk is best for exterior use because it won’t shrink and it’s impervious to the elements.
Shut Off Exterior Faucets
Cold winter temperatures can cause your pipes to freeze and burst inside your home, which can result in major water damage. Locate and close any shut-off valves that lead to outside faucets, and drain any excess water inside the lines. It’s also a good idea to also drain any interior pipes in unheated areas of your home, such as your attic.
Stow Your Mower
As the mower sits through the winter, fuel remaining in its engine will decompose, “varnishing” the carburetor and causing difficulty when you try to start the engine in the spring. wait until the tank is nearly empty from use and run the engine (outdoors) to use up the remaining fuel.
Call a Chimney Sweep
Before you burn the Yule log, make sure your fireplace (or any heating appliance burning gas, oil, wood or coal), chimney and vents are clean and in good repair. That will prevent chimney fires and prevent carbon monoxide from creeping into your home. If you have a wood-burning heating appliance or fireplace, have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney inspector to reduce your risk of a fire.
Test Smoke and CO2 Detectors
Regardless of the time of year, it’s always a good idea to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure the batteries are still functioning. Remember that these detectors lose their effectiveness over time, so replace old and outdated products after five years of use.