If you've ever experienced a frigidly cold winter, especially in Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana, then you know your house needs extra protection heading into the colder months. Once the weather really gets cold, you're already a step behind preparing your house for the winter. Now that summer is officially over, it is time to think ahead to the winter and what that means for your home. Not only should you worry about what could go wrong, such as a pipe bursting, but you also need to check that your house is as efficient as possible.
A drafty chimney or a heater that is not running efficiently can hike your energy bill in winter. By taking some simple steps and calling in the experts when necessary, you can help to keep your energy bills down this winter while avoiding any major headaches from heating or plumbing concerns.
1. Inspect Your Plumbing
If you have ever had a frozen pipe burst, you know how important it is to inspect your plumbing before the cold winter months. A frozen pipe can flood your basement and cause major water damage to your home. It's even worse if it happens while you are away and you don't catch it immediately. While it's never a bad idea to have a professional plumber come check your plumbing, there are plenty of things you can do on your own. Consider insulating your pipes, especially if they are in an unheated area such as an attic or a basement.
Prepare your outdoor faucets by draining and storing hoses and covering the faucets. Have an expert tune up both your water heater and your furnace. Now might be a good time to drain your water heater, although you might need a professional's help. You want to have a professional maintain your heater, as well, since a broken heater can quickly equate to frozen pipes.
2. Upgrade Your Heating System
If your heating system has seen better days, maybe it's time to consider replacing your system instead of seeing if it will last just one more winter. Purchasing and installing an energy-efficient heating system can save you a lot of money on your energy bills and give you peace of mind that you won't be stuck without heat if your system decides to break down during the coldest winter months.
A certified professional can tell you whether it's time to upgrade your system before it gets cold. Even after your new system is installed, it's important to have it maintained regularly and change the filters as needed to protect your investment.
3. Add Extra Insulation
Double-check to make sure all leaks are sealed before cold weather hits. If you ever feel any drafts, take steps to seal them, and consider weather-proofing your doors and windows. Caulk any other small leaks throughout your home. You might also want to consider adding extra insulation to your walls and attics, as well. Remember, if you feel cold air coming in, it means your heat is also getting out.
4. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
If you have a reverse switch on your ceiling fan, make sure you turn it the other direction for the winter. Because hot air rises, a fan's reverse motion will push and circulate the air down, creating more warmth in those rooms. This can make a big difference in rooms that have high ceilings by keeping the warm air down instead of wasting it at the ceiling.
5. Maintain Your Heating System
Because your heating system has essentially been on vacation all spring and summer, it's important to get it tuned up and serviced before you actually need it. Getting your unit checked out can alert you to any potential issues before the cold comes. It's best to know how well your heating system is operating and whether it could potentially break down this winter.
Having regular service on your unit also ensures that it is operating as efficiently as possible. Your energy bill will already be high enough this winter without worrying about a potential hike because your heating system isn't operating as well as it could.
6. Inspect Your Roofing and Gutters
Now would be a good time to double-check your roof and gutters to make sure there aren't any potential problems before it gets covered in snow. If your gutters are clogged with any remnants of summer and fall leaves and debris, then you are just asking for ice dams to develop once the freezing temperatures arrive. These blockages can back up water in your draining system, which could subsequently damage your roof or seep into your home.
7. Winterize Your Windows
Consider replacing your screens or regular windows with storm windows for the winter. A large amount of air leaks come from your windows in the winter, and you want to make sure you prevent as much warm air as possible from escaping your home. Also consider weather-proofing your windows with plastic or weather strips to reinforce them and prevent further air leaks.
8. Check Your Chimney
If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace in your home, keep in mind it needs to be cleaned. Before you start using your fireplace this winter, hire a professional to check that there aren't any safety concerns. Even if your fireplace is just for show, double-check that no air is coming in through your chimney. If you do feel air seeping in, consider having a professional seal your fireplace.
While some of these precautions might not prevent any real damage to your home, they will certainly make your life easier when spring finally comes back around. The other precautions on this list can help prevent major issues throughout your home and circumvent significant headaches and even more expenses. While you should always hope for the best, you need to prepare for the worst. Winter is unpredictable, but you can get a one-up this winter by preparing your house before you feel the first big chill.
To help get your house ready for winter, call Comfort24-7 at 855-Get-Comfy to find an expert provider near you.