Winterizing a home is about much more than sealing up cracks and cleaning out the furnace. Getting a home ready for the winter months will help families avoid skyrocketing energy bills while keeping them as comfortable as possible when the first few cold fronts move through the area. Here is a quick look at a few steps all homeowners should take to keep their families comfortable and their property safe during the coldest months of the year.
For most homeowners, the biggest concern with their landscaping is keeping their foundation dry and undamaged. As a general rule, any water that is running to outside faucets should be completely shut off with each faucet left in the open position. By doing this, the outdoor pipes will not be full of frozen water that can cause a dangerous amount of pressure. It is also a good idea to unscrew the hoses and store them in a dry location so they do not develop cracks before next spring. Finally, all tree branches should be trimmed away from the home so they do not fall into the walls, windows, or roof during a storm.
Inspect the Insulation
Even minor issues with a home’s insulation can cause energy bills to skyrocket when the weather begins to cool off. Much like a winter coat with a tear, gaps between the insulation pads will allow cold air in and warm air to escape. A family should check all of the insulation in their home at least twice a year for any signs of damage or unusual wear-and-tear. That includes water damage, gaps in the rolls, insulation that has been chewed by pests, or insulation that has become matted. Homeowners should also speak with a local HVAC technician to determine the correct R-value for their insulation.
Cracks and Holes
Homes that are in a relatively wet environment often develop dozens of minor cracks and holes over the course of a single year. This generally takes place when some of the building materials expand and contract as they absorb the moisture and the temperatures change. These issues are especially prevalent around doors, windows, vents, and other openings. Luckily, fixing minor drafts often requires nothing more than a few tubes of caulking and a caulking gun. Silicone and urethane caulking are not only easy to apply, but they are also the most durable.
The HVAC System
Taking a little extra time to inspect and service the HVAC system can save a family hundreds of dollars in a single year. While most homeowners should contact an HVAC technician to have their system serviced, they can also inspect a few key areas on their own. That includes all of the vents and visible ducts throughout the home. The vents should all be open and old filters must be replaced well before the furnace is turned on for the first time of the season. A flashlight can be used to inspect the ducts and vents for mold, mildew, and pests. If any pipes or ducts are cracked, then the holes should be patched with tape or caulking that is designed specifically for the HVAC system.
The Roof and Gutters
A small amount of damage on the roof can result in expensive repairs if it is not addressed immediately. In addition to inspecting the outside of the roof for visible signs of damage, homeowners should step into their attic on a sunny day and look for shafts of light coming through the roof. Those who find cracks or holes will most likely need to speak with a contractor about having the roof professionally patched. All of the gutters and downspouts must also be cleaned out whenever they become full of leaves and other debris. The downspouts themselves should lead far away from the foundation of a home so that the water naturally drains into the city’s sewers.