As Ned Stark would say, "Winter is coming." We've been waking up with as low as 30 degrees and is soon to drop even more. Don't let our Dallas weather fool you, freezing temperates (32 degrees and lower) can come and stay for a few days, which would hurt your house if you're not prepared for them. Below you'll find 10 steps to prep your house for winter.
1. Tune Up Your Heating System
The last thing you want to happen is to wake up in the middle of the night because the temperature dropped, you're cold, and discover that your heating system is not working. A quick call to get your heating system checked - including measuring for a carbon monoxide leakage - should run you around $100 depending on the company used. Remember to look for a heating and air-conditioning contractor that belongs to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and employs technicians certified by the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) program. The contractor should follow the protocol for the ACCAs "national standard for residential maintenance" (or the QM, short for "quality maintenance").
2. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
This is a fun trick not many are aware of that Kiplinger shared a couple of years ago. If your ceiling fan has a reverse switch, use it to run the fan's blades in a clockwise direction after you turn on your heat. Energy Star says the fan will produce an updraft and push down into the room heated air from the ceiling (remember, hot air rises). This is especially helpful in rooms with high ceilings -- and it might even allow you to turn down your thermostat by a degree or two for greater energy savings.
3. Check Your Roof
Look for damaged, loose or missing shingles on your roof. A leak any time of the year is a bother, but when it happens while it's cold outside, it can be miserable. Contact a professional roofer and have them inspect your roof in detail, this will help you avoid any possible further damage to the roof or an unfortunate accident.
4. Check For Air Leaks Around Your Windows And Door Frames
You heard right. These are the silent culprits that can have us paying more on our electrical bills. It may not seem like a big deal, but having a crack - or multiple of them - around a window or door frame can impact your electrical bill during the summer months - and winter months, when your air conditioning is working to keep you warm. If gaps between siding and window or door frames are bigger than the width of a nickel, you need to reapply exterior caulk. Check the joints in window and door frames, too. Silicone caulk is best for exterior use because it won’t shrink and it is impervious to the elements.
5. Clean The Gutters
You've been hearing this all your life. Remove all dry leafs and debris from your home gutters to avoid a clog, which can potentially turn into a bigger problem. Do it now, while the weather is still nice. You want to avoid a clog from happening that may later freeze when the temperature drops. This will help prevent a plumbing problem.
6. Turn Off Your Exterior Faucets
Visit your exterior faucets one by one, open them and let the water run for a bit. Then close them well and make sure you don't have a leaking faucet. Undrained water in pipes can freeze, which will cause pipes to burst as the ice expands. Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining the water that remains in faucets. If you don’t have frost-proof faucets (homes more than ten to 15 years old typically do not), turn off the shut-off valve inside your home. If you aren't sure if you do or if you would like to make sure your home's water system is ready for winter, give us a call at 214-328-7371 and we'll be happy to perform a home inspection for you. Remember to always hire certified plumbers that have your best interest at heart and are available 24/7, even during the busiest time of the year.
7. Drain Your Lawn Irrigation System
Call in a professional to do the job. Your sprinkler service charge will vary depending on the size of the lawn irrigation system. Draining sprinkler-system pipes, as with spigots, will help avoid freezing and leaks, which will prevent potential plumbing headaches down the road.
8. Inspect Your Chimney Before Turning It On
Before you're tempted to turn on your fireplace and snuggle up beside it with a hot cup of cocoa on a cold winter night, make sure your fireplace (or any heating appliance burning gas, oil, wood or coal), chimney and vents are clean and in good repair. This will prevent chimney fires and prevent carbon monoxide from creeping into your home, which can be deadly. Search for a sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
9. Check Your Drainage
Make sure the soil around your foundation hasn’t settled, creating areas for water to pool at your foundation. If you find a low spot, simply fill it in with some soil. Then go around and check your rain gutter downspouts. Make sure water is getting moved away from the home. Add downspout extenders if necessary. Saturated soil around a foundation can create real problems as it freezes and thaws throughout the winter months.
10. Cover Your Outdoor Furniture
Protect your patio furniture, but make sure you wait until a clear, warm day to cover it so you don’t trap moisture on it, this will prevent mold from forming, which could permanently damage your patio furniture.
Remember that if you need help with a plumbing issue or want to schedule a plumbing inspection, Metro-Flow Plumbing is open 24/7 and can help you. You may reach us at 214-328-7371. One of our certified and insured plumbers will assist you.