I know it just seems like we’re still Autumn-proofing our homes, right? Yet while you may not have as many problems as your aunt in Billings, Montana, as the temperature drops, you definitely need to get ready for old man winter…
Here are 9 areas of your home that need some winter preparation
Burning wood in your fireplace? It’s time for a chimney sweep. You should get your chimney cleaned and inspected before each wood-burning season.
Burning gas logs this winter? Good for you! Make sure you have a CO detector or an oxygen depletion sensor close by the fireplace so you can safely enjoy the fire.
Already have them? Check their batteries. While you’re at it check the batteries of the smoke detectors in your house, and while you at it, make sure you have a smoke detector in every sleeping room.
Be alert when the temperature crawls below freezing for an extended period of time as pipes can freeze. Sub-freezing temps along with windy conditions for more than 6-8 hours can spell trouble for exposed pipes. For those frosty situations wrapping pipes in question with heat tape can help, as will dripping a faucet.
Insulating pipes from water heaters located in garages can help conserve energy and hot water.
It is also good to know how to shut off the water to your house in case there is a pipe burst.
Weather stripping around your windows and doors (don’t forget your garage door too) can help you save even more.
Other places that let cold air in and need to be sealed are around electrical outlets and those fold-down attic stairs.
Are you locked in on your natural gas rate? This may be a good time to do so. Keep up with local natural gas rates in your state or see Clark’s recommendations for Georgia natural gas rates.
Oh boy, here we go. Space heaters are great, when used properly; they are death traps when they aren’t. Here are some guidelines:
- Space heaters should just be used to heat spaces, not to dry clothing or thaw food.
- Keep a 3-foot zone around your space heater free of anything flammable.
- Turn off space heaters when you are not in the room or when you go to sleep.
- Whether your space heater is gas or electric, make sure the wiring is sound and the connections are tight.
- When buying space heaters, look for devices with automatic shut-off features and heating element guards.
- Select heating equipment that has the UL mark.
Change your filter, again. Airflow is the key to having your HVAC equipment run smooth. Change the rotation direction of your ceiling fans – it’s time to circulate that warm air around the room.
Set your thermostat for the cooler outdoor temps or get a smart thermostat. If your setback thermostat isn’t automatic, switch it over from cool to heat.
I can’t say enough about getting your home checked for the proper amount of insulation. Nothing will help you keep your energy costs in check more than having a well-insulated home. A home energy audit (they are often free) can pin point the areas where you need help.
According to the Department of Energy, in the Atlanta for example, an R-value of 49 is good in the attic, while R-11 is suggested for use in your floor joists overhead in your crawlspace.
Wanna check to see your R value yourself? Blown in insulation goes about R-2.5 per inch.
Pests (bugs, crawly things, things with more than 2 legs, etc…) are now looking for warmth and for water. Dry, cool winters deprive them of both.
Don’t let your house be the oasis on an insect’s journey. Seal the openings in your house to keep them out. Expanding foam works well around plumbing openings. Weather stripping keeps warm air in, it also keeps bugs out and bonus – it’s easy and inexpensive.
Tonight – turn on all your lights and walk around your house. Every crack and crevice where you see light coming out of your home is an open invitation for pests to come in.
Insects will also hitch hike in on your firewood. Only bring in what you plan to use. Leave the rest outside, a good distance from your house.
It seems every winter there is one good ice storm that leaves you without power, not to mention your local grocery store without bread and milk. Be ready for it this year. Get your emergency checklist ready. Here’s what’s on mine:
- Candles and matches or a small butane lighter.
- Flashlight and batteries.
- Fill propane tank or buy charcoal for outdoor grills.
- Battery operated radio or weather radio. Buy extra batteries.
- Sand for icy driveways and for extra weight in my car.
- Containers of bottled water. Nonperishable food to last a few days. Be sure you have a hand operated can opener.
- Paper plates and plastic eating utensils. Paper towels.
One of the hot items this year is a whole house natural gas generator. Have it installed to service your whole house and when the power goes out your generator will automatically kick on.
About the author: Dave Baker is the host of The Home Fix It Show on Saturday mornings from 9-12 on News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB out of Atlanta. He provides a multitude of tips and advice on planning, building, and fixing up around the house.