The winter months can be rough, in general, and we’ve seen temperatures far below normal all across the country this season. The cold temperatures, as well as the associated storms, can damage your home and cause safety issues. Properly winterizing your home, however, can help you and your family and your home stay safe.
Cleaning Your Gutters
One major item is gutter cleaning and maintenance. This is something that needs to be done and monitored as the fall months approach and the season moves towards winter. It’s important to keep your gutters free of leaves and other debris. The function of gutters is to make sure rain and melting snow is directed away from your home’s foundation. Check to make sure none of the gutters are leaking or misaligned. Taking care of your gutters will prevent ice build-up that can damage your roof and walls when the weather is really cold.
Add Extra Insulation
This is especially important if you have an attic. At a minimum, you should have at least 12 inches of insulation in your attic. The simplest way to check is to look for your ceiling joists. If you can see them, you don’t have enough insulation. Increasing the amount of insulation you have will ensure your home is warmer and will very likely decrease your utility bills in the winter.
Buy or Make Draft Snakes
Draft snakes are items you lay against the space at the bottom of your door to keep drafts from entering a room. You can buy them, make them, or even just roll up a towel and put it in front of the door. Drafts not only make your house cold and uncomfortable, but they can also give your thermostat a false reading, making it run more than it needs to.
Have the Chimney Professionally Checked
Having the chimney checked out by a professional, at least once a year, is critical. While it doesn’t always need to be cleaned, it does need to be checked for usability, cracks, damage, and interior blockages. To add life to your chimney and flue, buy a protective cap with a screen so that birds, balls, rain and snow, and other items can’t get inside your chimney and cause damage.
Living in an old, cold house can be uncomfortable, especially if you have old windows. During the late fall, take down your window screens and put up your storm windows. This will help to prevent drafts, especially with newer windows. If you have older windows, you’ll want to make sure the edges are properly sealed and buy an inexpensive window insulator kit with plastic sheeting to seal the window. This temporary solution doesn’t look nice, but it will help keep your family warm and utility bills low, until you’re able to have your old windows replaced.
What else can you do?
Have your heating ducts inspected and cleaned if necessary, clean or replace your furnace filters, reverse the direction of your ceiling fans, winterize your A/C units, and get a programmable thermostat. These tasks and items will help keep your family warmer, lower your utility bills, extend the life of your furnace and fireplace, and help to prevent dangerous fires or damage to your home from water or ice.