Winter is Coming – has never let us down yet. Be Prepared.
Here is a list of ten things homeowners should do to prepare themselves for Winter, because as we Northlanders know- this season can be really snowy, really cold, or both, and will quickly find where we didn’t properly prepare our homes or vehicles, often with undesirable results.
1: Seal Leaky Doors & Windows
Our homes’ heat in winter is valuable- especially when it is -20 degrees outside. Leaky windows and doors can cost you many dollars of heat that could otherwise be keeping you warm, and can be prevented with a tube of caulk and some weather stripping. To check for leaks, hold a burning candle near window and door frames and watch for movement. Apply weatherstripping where necessary and use caulk on exterior leaks.
2: Clean Gutters
Check your gutters and make sure to clean them well (after the leaves fall), because blocked gutters can be a major cause for ice dams on the roof- which in turn, can create thousands of dollars in damages. Get a small plastic scoop and set up an appropriately sized ladder and scoop away!
3: Heating System Inspection & Tune-Up
Since the technicians at Summit Mechanical are the Northlands experts in heating and cooling, we are very knowledgeable in maintaining your home heating system- no matter the type or brand of furnace or boiler you may have! Most heating system manufacturers recommend a system maintenance once per year, and some even require this to maintain warranty eligibility.
Check your furnace filter and replace it if dirty. Furnace and air handlers with filters should have the filter changed every 90 days and possibly more often during heating and cooling seasons.
Getting a tune-up proves a wise decision for homeowners for multiple reasons, with the first being to ensure that there isn’t any signs of failure or harmful leaks that can be of danger to occupants. Secondly, a tune-up will save you money on your energy bill! In fact, we will reimburse you the cost of your tune-up if you don’t save that amount on your next years heating bills. Remember that the average heating and cooling systems make up to 47% of utility costs. Another big reason to have this service done, is proper maintainance will extend the useful life of your heating and cooling system thereby saving premature replacement cost.
4: Clean Chimney
A dirty or plugged chimney can cause major damages to your home and family, so make sure you inspect your chimney properly to check for buildup or blockages. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys be inspected once every year.
This job can be done by homeowners with the proper safety precautions and chimney sweeping tools, but a hiring a professional certified Chimney Sweep will ensure that the job is done safely and correctly.
5: Drain Outdoor Plumbing & Irrigation
If you have outdoor faucets or irrigation, make sure you completely drain all water to prevent freezing and cracking, which can turn into very costly repairs. This is always a good time to have a home plumbing inspection done as well, so you can live in peace knowing your natural gas/propane systems doesn’t have leaks, or that your waste, drain, and venting isn’t leaking waste water or harmful gasses.
6: Seal Blacktop
If you are concerned about your blacktop driveway surviving the winter, grab a pail of driveway sealer from your local hardware store and seal off any cracks you see. This can do wonders to increase the longevity of your driveway!
7: Prepare Snowblower & Lawn Equipment
If you have a snowblower, make sure it is running well before the flurries fly! Frustration can mount when you are snowed in and cannot get your blower to start. Some helpful things you can do are: add gas stabilizer to the gas tank before storing in the spring, replace spark plugs, change the oil (for 4-stroke), and do a complete inspection on all parts and components to check for wear and tear.
For your lawn equipment, make sure it is properly winterized- this means draining the fuel or adding the proper amount of fuel stabilizer, washing everything to prevent buildup and rust, and performing an inspection to check for wear and tear. You will thank yourself when the time comes to mow the lawn next year!
8: Install a Programmable Thermostat
Installing programmable thermostat in your home can save you money on your energy bill by allowing you to program your heating system with setbacks to run less when not being used, such as nights and while you are at work. How much setback to use will be dependent on the type of heating system you have. Some systems like geothermal and hotwater infloor heating are not designed for large setbacks and may take too long to recover and use excess energy in doing so. With these systems it’s better to leave the thermostat at a constant comfortable temperature setting unless you will be gone for several days.
If you do not feel comfortable with doing this yourself, we can do this for you- and give you instructions and advice on how to program for maximum efficiency!
9: Insulate your attic
If you have an older home with poor attic insulation, consider insulating – this can be a major help in keeping your home warm, as well as protecting your roof from frustrating ice-dam buildups. The most common types of insulation is conventional fiberglass insulation, and recycled loose-fill insulation- both can be just as effective if installed right.
Make sure you have some type of vapor barrier installed, whether it be a plastic membrane in the attic, or a silver- backed drywall; this will ensure proper moisture control.
10: Prepare Landscaping & Lawns
We all know how fast that first snowfall comes, so make sure you are ready by removing walkway lights, garden decor, and other lawn items that could become damaged. Make sure you clear your lawns of leaves by raking, blowing, or mulching them with a mulching mower- this can prevent damage to your lawn by allowing the lawn to breathe and minimizing insect problems.