Prepare your home for winter

Heating your home safely is easy, but it does require homeowners to be aware of certain hazards to avoid. It also is important to keep your home heating and cooling equipment in safe working condition. Perry provides the following tips to help keep you and your family safe.

Prepare your home for winter

Postby Service » Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:44 am

1) Inspect your Furnace
•Call an HVAC pro to inspect your furnace and clean ducts.
•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.

2) Get the Fireplace Ready
•Cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out rodents, birds and small animals.
•If the chimney hasn't been cleaned for a while, call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote.
•Buy firewood or chop wood. Store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home.
•Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing.
•Check the mortar between bricks and tuckpoint, if necessary.

3) Check the Exterior, Doors and Windows
•Inspect exterior for cracks and exposed entry points around pipes; make sure you seal them.
•Use weatherstripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home and caulk windows.
•Replace cracked glass in windows and, if you end up replacing the entire window, prime and paint exposed wood.
•If your home has a basement, consider protecting its window wells by covering them with plastic shields.
•Switch out summer screens with glass replacements from storage. If you have storm windows, install them.

4) Inspect Roof, Gutters & Downspouts
•If your weather temperature will fall below 32 degrees in the winter, adding extra insulation to the attic will prevent warm air from creeping to your roof and causing ice dams.
•Check flashing to ensure water cannot enter the home. This is also good for insects.
•Replace worn roof shingles or tiles.
•Clean out the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away debris.
•Consider installing leaf guards on the gutters or extensions on the downspouts to direct water away from the home.

5) Service Weather-Specific Equipment
•Drain gas from lawnmowers and small engine apliances.
•Service or tune-up snow blowers.
•Replace worn rakes and snow shovels.
•Clean, dry and store summer gardening equipment.
•Sharpen ice choppers and buy bags of ice-melt / sand.

6) Check Foundations
•Rake away all debris and edible vegetation from the foundation.
•Seal up entry points to keep small animals from getting under the house.
•Tuckpoint or seal foundation cracks. Mice can slip through space as thin as a dime.
•Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation.
•Secure crawlspace entrances.

7) Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
•Some cities require a smoke detector in every room.
•Buy extra smoke detector batteries and change them when daylight savings ends.
•Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and / or water heater. If you have multiple furnaces or heaters make sure you put one by each.
•Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work.
•Buy a fire extinguisher or replace an extinguisher older than 10 years.

8) Prevent Plumbing Freezes
•Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency.
•Drain all garden hoses.
•Insulate exposed plumbing pipes with simple wrap or foam.
•Drain air conditioner pipes and, if your AC has a water shut-off valve, turn it off.
•If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, set to at least 55 degrees.
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