Winter is on the way, and the impending cold weather brings special home maintenance concerns with it like frozen pipes and an increased risk of house fires. Here are some ways to prepare your home for the freezing temperatures ahead:
1) Protect The Pipes
Water expands as it freezes, and if it freezes inside a pipe it could burst that pipe. The resulting damage can require expensive repairs. Consider the following steps to prevent such damage:
• Insulate water pipes that run through unheated places like an attic or garage
• Drain water from outdoor sprinkler systems and faucets
• Cover outdoor faucets with foam insulators and store outdoor hoses in the garage
• If the weather forecast predicts extreme cold, let the faucets drip overnight so the water doesn’t freeze
2) Check the Heating and Air Systems
Air conditioners and heating systems generally last between 12 and 15 years. Hire a reputable HVAC contractor to check your system before the weather gets really cold. Also, change the filter at the start of the cold season. Get a programmable thermostat if you don’t already have one. You can save money by programming it to be cooler at night or when you’re not home and warmer in the morning.
3) Have Your Chimney Cleaned
If you have a fireplace, you need to have to a chimney sweep inspect it and clean it out before using it. The more often you make a fire, the more often you need to have your chimney cleaned. Many people recommend having the chimney cleaned once a year. If you use your fireplace only a few times per winter, you can have it cleaned once every three years – but no less than that.
4) Improve Home’s Energy Efficiency.
Hire a professional energy auditor. They will look for ventilation or drainage problems that can impair a building’s energy efficiency. The energy auditor will then advise you on what changes you can make. Some of those changes can be fairly simple and inexpensive like caulking around windows or putting weather stripping around doors. If your home is older, you may still have uninsulated doors or single-pane windows. Replacing these with insulated doors and double- or triple-pane windows will make your home more energy efficient.
5) Clean and Store Lawn Equipment
The fuel in gas-powered machines, like mowers or chippers, degrades over time and can eventually damage the fuel lines and other parts. Empty out all the fuel and dispose of it properly. Clean the machine and sharpen its blades. Then store the machinery and tools in a covered and enclosed area.
6) Clean the Gutters
After the leaves have fallen, clean the gutters and downspouts. Clogged gutters can cause overflow and ice dams in the winter. Ice dam, are very dangerous and destructive to your home, roof, and foundation. The best way to avoid ice dams is to make sure your gutters are cleared before the freezing temperatures hit.
We wish we could tell you that switching out the spring and summer linens for autumn colors and placing a few pumpkins and gourds on the front porch constituted summer to fall home maintenance. You’re going to need a weekend and a few supplies to bring your home up to winter standards, though. We’ll walk you through it, both inside and out.
Check The Roof
The roof is the first defense of your home. If rain, snow, and ice get through the roof, it gets to you. Check for loose or missing shingles, separated flashing, and anything that looks out of place. Then call a roofing professional to fix it.
Clean The Gutters
Leaf-clogged gutters mean water leaks into the basement, the inner walls, and the outer walls. Clean the gutters after the leaves have fallen, then flush the gutters and downspouts with a garden hose. Repair joints and fasteners if needed. Check the interior walls and basement for possible damages.
Check The Siding
Speaking of outer walls, grab some caulking. Seal any spaces between siding, basement, or foundation. Seal around wires or pipes entering the house. Seal door and window frames to prevent heat from escaping.
Replace Screens With Storm Doors
Taking down the summer screens and replacing them with storm windows and doors is a classic summer to fall home maintenance chore. Be sure to clean the screens before storing them in a cool dry place like the garage.
Give The HVAC A Tuneup
Since HVAC is up to 50 percent of your yearly power bill, it makes sense to service it regularly. HVAC units have fluids and filters that need changing just like a car does. Having it serviced regularly by an Ashley Heating Air & Water Systems professional will keep it running smoothly for years to come.
Drain Outdoor Faucets
This prevents freezing pipes and the damage they cause. Disconnect and store garden hoses and wrap the faucets in foam.
Check Windows And Doors For Drafts
Holding a lit candle close to windows and doors will alert you to drafts. Fortunately, weatherstripping them will keep out drafts and save you a bundle on your power bill. You want to replace them with energy efficient doors and windows as soon as possible.
Replacing air filters with dust and allergen filters is a little more expensive, but they last for up to four months. Some can be vacuumed so they’ll last another month or so.
Check The Batteries
Checking smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be done more than once a year. You’re already checking everything, though, and these are too important to forget.
Make Your Fireplace Operative
Fireplaces suck air out of the house through the flue. This is also a place that sealing is a good idea. Call a licensed chimney sweep to get the fireplace ready for winter.
An estimated 2,900 house fires are started by dryers each year. This results in about $35 million in property damage, 100 injuries, and five deaths every year. Having a dryer house fire is a real concern for many, but there are a variety of ways to make sure your dryer doesn’t catch on fire and burn down your home.
Clean Your Dryer After Every Load
Most people already know this, but you would be surprised how many people neglect this simple task. By emptying your lint catcher after you dry every load you are likely never going to have a dryer catch on fire. There are many other things you can do to prevent house fires caused by a dryer, but cleaning your lint catcher after every load is the most important step to prevent your dryer from catching on fire.
Why Do Dryers Catch On Fire?
There are a variety of things that cause a dryer to set a blaze. The primary reason is the lint catcher. When people do not clean their lint catchers regularly their dryers can set that lint on fire and cause a devastating fire. All hoses should also be checked regularly because these can also get clogged up and catch fire. Gas lines, if you use gas to power your dryer, can also get clogged and cause fires.
Check All Hoses Regularly.
Making sure the lint catcher is clean is only the first step in preventing a dryer house fire. The exhaust hose can also clog up, stopping heat from being released outside. This can also cause a fire. Check your exhaust hose at least once per year to lessen your chances of a fire caused by the dryer.
If you use propane to keep your dryer running, these hoses that feed propane into the house should also be checked semi-regularly.
Make Sure Your Exhaust Hose Is Up To Date.
Many people still have the old white exhaust hoses on their dryers. These are a very common cause for dryer fires. These hoses are made from flexible vinyl material and are known to catch on fire. The vinyl that these hoses are created with are extremely flammable and so is dryer lint. If you have a white flexible vinyl hose coming out of your dryer, you need to switch to the better aluminum dryer hose. This will lessen your chance of accidental dryer house fire by near limitless amounts.
Ashley Heating has been serving the citizens of Idaho for nearly 100 years. Founded in 1919, Ashley Heating has been providing installations, repairs, and parts for everything to do with indoor heating and cooling. Their employees are factory trained, drug tested, and background checked, ensuring you get the best quality work available today. They also provide financing options for HVAC services.