Tuesday, October 25, 2011

10.5 Ways to Winterize Your Home

Winter is fast approaching and with it comes the task of preparing your home for winter's icy chill.  Tonight, Northern Colorado is expecting 4-8 inches of snow and temperatures dipping well into the teens.  Take a look at the following tips and tricks on what you can do to winterize.  Are you prepared?  It could be a long winter...

1.  Clean Those Gutters
Autumn means gorgeous colors and leaves galore.  Many of those leaves can end up in your gutters in the form of a wet, leafy clog.  Come winter, those clogs will suspend water, causing ice damns that could cause severe damage.  Do a quick check to make sure you're spouts will be flowing.

2.  Block Those Leaks
Fill in the gaps around your windows with caulk to prevent drafts.  Buy door sweeps or find creative ways to prevent the cool air from rushing in beneath your doors.  If you have noticeable cracks in your bricks, use exterior caulk to prevent cool air from penetrating.

3.  Insulate Yourself
Adding insulation in your attic won't only keep you more comfortable, it'll also keep your heating bills lower.  12 inches of insulation will do the trick, and you can even go thicker.  Make sure when adding insulation that you buy non-backed insulation to avoid creating an inappropriate vapor barrier.

4.  Check Your Furnace. 
Before you actually need the heat, check your furnace to make sure it's still in good working condition.  If a strong dusty smell persists for more than an hour or two, it might be a good idea to call an inspector to make sure everything is working correctly.

5.  Check Your Ducts
If you have accessible ducts running through non-heated spaces, make sure they're insulated to prevent heat loss along the duct.  Check the connections for leaks or obstructions.

6.  Prepare Your Windows
Obviously, winter will force you to take down your screens and put up your storm windows.  If you have a problem area or window that just always feels drafty no matter what you do with it, budget to replace them.  If that isn't in your budget, go to your local home improvement store and buy some plastic to create an additional air space inside the window.  It's easy to do and is an effective alternative.

7.  Check The Chimney
Your chimney is often forgotten.  It doesn't need to be cleaned yearly, but if it gets a lot of use, it is a good idea to get it inspected.  Keep the damper closed while not in use to prevent drafts.

8.  Reverse the Fans
If you've enjoyed the relaxing breeze from a ceiling fan all summer long, make sure you flip the switch and help force warm air downwards.  A few degrees can really make a difference with comfort and heating bills.

9.  Mind Your Pipes
Make sure that water to your hose bib is shut off before freezing temps begin.  If leaving on Thanksgiving or Christmas vacation, it is a good idea to set your faucets to drip and keep the ambient temperature of your home above 60 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.

10.  Blowout Your Sprinklers
Just like any other pipe, don't forget about your sprinkler system.  Trapped water in your system can freeze, expand and really give you a headache.  Every autumn, use compressed air to blow the remaining water in your sprinkler system out to prevent any issues.  You'll thank yourself in the springtime.

10.5  Check the Alarms
For a little added safety over the winter months, check the alarms throughout your home.  Smoke detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors could use replacement batteries.  Instead of pushing the test button alone, hold a match up to your smoke detectors to see if they work properly.  Replace the detector entirely if it is over 10 years old. 

With these tips you should be set for a warm, comfortable and enjoyable winter.

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