Change of Season Guide from Fall to Winter
In the words of Mark Twain, “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” The Farmer’s Almanac has said we are in for a 13% colder winter this year. Are you and your house prepared? Here’s a winter checklist to help you be proactive:
- Sealing your home against the weather – There is a lot to say on this topic, especially if you live in a climate that sees cold temperatures. The United States Department of Energy has great information that explains all you need to know and what to look for on their page Air Sealing Your Home. You’ll definitely want to check it out.
- Ready the heating system – Don’t wait until its too cold outside! With today’s high efficiency heating products, it’s more important than ever to maintain your equipment to maximize your fuel dollars spent. A routine preseason furnace tune-up can help prevent an unexpected breakdown this winter. It is very common for a furnace to experience air flow problems, dirty or clogged filters, ignition control issues and thermostat malfunctions over time. Furnaces with cracked heat exchangers could potentially be emitting carbon monoxide. As a result you could experience poor comfort, increased energy costs, unexpected repair expenses or even exposure to dangerous carbon monoxide.
- Testing Smoke Detectors and Fire Alarms — With the approaching holidays we will be trimming trees, decking the halls, baking and cooking for the family and relatives. It is a great time to check all of the safety items around your household. Change out all of your smoke detector batteries, and test them all to make sure they work; do the same with your radon and carbon monoxide detectors. Inspect all of your fire extinguishers, and make sure they are functional as well. Replace any burned out light bulbs around your house, particularly on staircases and entryways. Additionally, make sure your candles and flashlights are handy so you’re ready for outages if and when the storms knock out your power.
- Prepare outside water lines & faucets – Water lines exposed to the outside temperatures, including sprinkler systems and exterior faucets, can freeze. Freezing water expands and can crack pipes and hose bibs which can be expensive to repair. Make sure the water lines are turned off inside the home and that spigots are open to drain excess water. It is a good idea to continually check the spigots for leaking as can be a sign that something needs to be replaced.
- Lawn mower care – Your lawn mower should be winterized for storage. Check out what the pros over at Popular Mechanics had to say about how to Winterize your Lawn Mower.
- Don’t forget the snow blower – If you are fortunate to have this piece of equipment you will want to make sure it is ready when the snow flies. That means it needs to start. You should check the oil level, inflate the tires, lubricate the machine per owner’s manual, and make sure that everything is working.
- Outdoor furniture – Just because it’s outdoor furniture doesn’t mean you should leave it out all year round. The furniture should be given a good cleaning with dish soap and hot water and stored inside if at all possible. If you don’t have inside storage, a garage or shed would be the next best thing. Plastic can become brittle and break, metal rusts, and wood splits. If no inside option is available, at least make sure it is securely covered with a heavy tarp to protect it from the elements.
- Ceiling fans – Did you know that most ceiling fans have a reverse switch? With a flip of a switch you could save as much as 10% on your heating bill. Reversing the direction of the fan blades pushes the warmer air down from the ceiling. With warmer air being circulated you could also then turn down your thermostat a degree or two and save even more.
- Clean those gutters! – Gutters become full of debris and leaves allowing water to back up against the house causing damage to roofing, siding, and trim. It also causes ice dams to form. While cleaning out the gutters make sure to look for damaged gutters and fascia boards as those will need to be repaired.
- Pruning trees and shrubs – Don’t be tempted to start pruning as soon as the leaves are off the trees. Many experts advise waiting until late winter, after the coldest months have past as this results in a vigorous burst of new growth in the spring.