Baby, it’s cold outside and it’s time to wrap those babies up when you head out for the day. While you’re busy wrapping the family up from head to toe, have you considered the way that you’re wrapping up your house? Winter is a mere two weeks away, and while it can be one of the most beautiful seasons (hello, snow angels, anyone?) it’s also the coldest and has the potential to be the most brutal of all. Snow, ice, wind and rain doth not a good combination make, and you have to be ready and on guard to protect your family and your house at all costs.
You’re going to have snow days with the kids in the house, the holidays with family over and your going to spend time with your heaters on to make sure that you are all comfortable. While you know how to layer up and get ready for a freeze in terms of keeping yourself warm, are you ready for the precautions that you need to take before winter sweeps in? There are some supplies that you need to have as a family to see you through if the electrics in the home or the pipework bust out on you, and these include;
- Flashlights and batteries en masse, just in case of a power cut.
- Plenty of fleece blankets
- A car safety kit. Sure, it’s not in the house, but you still need to protect your family outside of the house. Check out this list of items that you should keep in the car over the winter.
- Bags of salt for the sidewalks and steps that freeze over.
- Sandbags for the basement – in case the pipes burst. Maplewood Plumbing can help you here. You could use them while you’re waiting for someone to come and help!
- Safe space heaters with no open coils that the kids can grab.
- fan for the fireplace that will blow heat into the room without sucking it up the chimney.
Once you have this list squared away, you need to look at the actual house. This is your fortress and it’s supposed to protect you from the elements outside. Before those elements start blowing against your house, you need to get ready without breaking the bank. Winterizing your home is the biggest thing that you can do for the season, and it only takes a weekend to get the list completed. Below, you’ll find fifteen things that you need to add to your list and tick off as you go. May the odds be ever in your favor.
1. Call In A Professional To Check The Furnace
Everyone loves the effects that a lit furnace has on a home, but before you get it switched on for the season, it can really pay off to have a professional to come and inspect it first. They can make sure that it’s running properly so that you can remain safe over the season. An inspection should include:
- A safety check for carbon monoxide
- Cleaning and replacing the air filters
- Blower operation check
- Motor and fan cleaning
- Gas piping inspection
Ideally, you’d have saved some cash for your home winterization all year, because a furnace inspection has some expense included.
2. Trim Nearby Trees
If you’ve got branches and tree limbs hanging over your driveway, roof or garage, you need these trimmed back. You can call an arborist to do it for you if you don’t have the inclination to shimmy up a ladder. The reason you need it done is that frozen tree branches tend to disintegrate and snap, creating a lethal situation for your family.
3. Call The Professionals To Clean And Inspect The Heating Ducts
While you’re paying for the furnace to be inspected, don’t forget to do the same with your heating ducts. If you don’t, a lot of the warm air in your home is going to leak out of the ducts, costing you money!
4. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
You’ve spent the summer months using your fans to cool down, but did you know that you could use your fans to keep your house warm? Every ceiling fan has a switch which allows you to reverse it, pushing the warm air down and recirculate the room. You can then flick it the other way to cool down the room when the summer months come back around again.
5. Find And Block Air Leaks
There’s an old school rule here with finding air leaks: use a candle to go around the windows and if the flame is moving, there’s air coming in and therefore, heat going out. Drafts can waste up to 30% of your energy use, and those draft excluders work fantastically for under the doors where drafts are coming through. You can also add some caulk around your windows and doors where there could be cracks and gaps.
6. Winterize The Air Conditioning
It’s likely you won’t be using your AC during the winter months, so you must protect it in the same way you would any of the pipes in your home. Draining the pipes and hoses that come from the AC is important so that they don’t freeze, and make sure that you dry out any pools of water that may be sitting in the drain pan. Adding plastic covers over the AC can also help to keep water, ice and snow out of the unit, preventing rusting.
7. Replace Your Furnace Filter
Your furnace is getting maximum use through the winter, so you need to make sure that you replace the filter often so that you don’t impede the air flow or be less efficient. You can minimize environmental impact by replacing the filters with electrostatic ones instead of disposable filters. You can wash them every month and they’ll be good to go.
8. Add Storm Windows – And Maybe Doors
Storm windows can make your home more energy efficient while keeping the weather on the outside of the house.
9. Insulate Your Loft
Heat rises up through a house, but you want it to stop at the top! Insulation is the perfect solution to this, and you need a minimum of 12” of insulation in your attic for the best chance of staying warm. Adding more insulation can make sure that you don’t have any escaping heat from the top of the house.
10. Wrap The Pipes!
Any plumbing professional will tell you that it’s vital to wrap your pipes in insulation if you don’t want to end up with a flood in the home. You can raise the hot water temperatures delivered through your pipes, and this helps your boiler. If you wrap your pipes properly, you won’t end up with frozen, cracking pipes that are going to lose your water and flood your house.
11. Test Smoke Detectors
House fires are more prominent in the winter months, and with a family to look after, this is a concern for you. When people run their furnaces for a longer time to keep warm, there’s a bigger risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, which is why it’s so important to get them tested with the local fire brigade – keeping your family safe.
12. Prepare A Back Up Bag
When a big ice storm hits your area, you could lose your power and you could find yourself without heating. You need a kit to keep you going for at least three to four days, and it should include the following:
- Water bottles
It could be worth having two or three of these around, and the food you buy should last your whole family.
13. Inspect The Chimney (Or Pay Someone To Do It!)
You need to rewind a little and contact a chimney sweep to come around and sweep and inspect your chimney for you. Too many fires originate in the chimney each year, so it’s worth getting it cleared of all debris and charcoal before you start lighting fires in the fireplace!
14. Layer Up
The floors need rugs upon rugs. The windows need heavier curtains. The beds need heavier and added comforters and blankets. You also need layers! Get everyone thermals and thick socks, scarves and sweaters for the house. Your house could lose power and heating, which means you need to know how to layer up without those things – just in case the winter weather does knock it out!
15. Get The Gutters Gutted
Clogged up gutters can lead to a lot of drainage issues with your main house drains. Ice dams can occur when the water backs up in the gutters and freezes, which then blocks the flow of water in the gutters. Cleaning out the debris and dead leaves can help to make space for the water to flow effectively down the pipe work.
Your house, your family and your life needs to be taken care of properly. Winterizing your home is important, especially when children are in the home.