7 Steps to Winterize Your Home

7 Steps to Winterize Your Home

You feel it … the briskness of the fresh air.
You see it … the golden yellow, pumpkin orange and flaming red of the leaves.
You know it … this means it’s time to think about winterizing your home. You’ll be a lot more comfortable in the winter if you take care of a few things now.

#1. Reverse your ceiling fan.
We know, not everyone has one – but it’s a small tip that people don’t often think of.
When you reverse the direction from the “summer” operation, the fan will push warm air down to you and re-circulate the warm air. FYI – When the blades turn clockwise, that’s the “winter” position.

#2. Check Alarms.
Check the operation — and if needed — change the batteries on your home’s smoke detectors. Fire officials recommend that alarms be replaced every 10 years. Also, be sure to check that your fire extinguisher is still where it should be, and still works.
One more thing, if you haven’t already – put a carbon-monoxide detector in your home. They really do save lives.

#3. Chimney and Fireplace.
•    Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing.
•    Cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out critters.
•    Call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote, debris and leaves. They can also inspect the structure.

#4. Clean gutters and downspouts
•    OK, so after all of the leaves have fallen, clean out the gutters. Use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away leaves and debris.
•    Consider installing leaf guards on the gutters or extensions on the downspouts to direct water away from the home. (Clogged drains can form ice dams, in which water backs up, freezes and causes water to seep into the house.)
•    When you hose out your gutters, watch for leaks and misaligned pipes. Also, make sure the downspouts are carrying water away from the house’s foundation, where it could cause flooding or other water damage

#5. Check for leaks.
Here’s how you can find the leaks: On a breezy day, walk around inside your home holding a lit incense stick. Go to the most common drafty areas: windows, doors, electrical outlets, recessed lights etc… Watch for movement of the smoke to discover drafts.
Inspect the caulking around windows and doors. Check for cracking and peeling caulk and replace. Apply caulk and seal up the leaks. Door sweeps under exterior doors help block drafts. So do electrical outlet gaskets. Make sure that doors and windows shut tightly and that no cold air is coming in due to worn weather stripping. Seal leaks outside with weather-resistant caulk.

#6. Check out your furnace.
Don’t wait until the first cold day to turn your furnace on … that would not be a good time to find out that it’s not working!! Turn it on now and make sure it’s warm and running. It’s a good idea to have your furnace checked and tuned up regularly for optimum return. Also:
•    Stock up on furnace filters and change them monthly.
•    Consider switching out your thermostat for a programmable thermostat.
•    If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly and when water appears, close them.
•    Remove all flammable material from the area surrounding your furnace

#7. Prepare an emergency kit.
Last, but certainly not least, your home emergency kit!
•    Buy indoor candles and matches or lighters.
•    Keep he phone numbers for your utility company near your phone and keep them on your cell phone.
•    Store extra bottled water and non-perishable food supplies (including pet food, if you have a pet), blankets and a first-aid kit in a dry and easy-to-access location.
•    If you have old prescription glasses, this is a good place to keep them too.
•    Prepare an evacuation plan in the event of an emergency.