Need to get your home ready for the cold weather? Learn some top tips from Save!
Cold weather is on its way again! While winter might mean ice skating or curling up with a mug of cocoa for you, it can be rough on your home. Take some time now to winterize correctly so you can prevent costly repairs and spend the season doing what you love!
Turn on the furnace, set the temperature to 80° F, and make sure it's running as expected. Listen for any odd noises. It's normal to experience a funny smell right after turning it on, but this should dissipate quickly. Next, check the vents to make sure the air is flowing freely, including the exhaust vents. Finally, pop in a fresh filter and make sure your fuel source is topped off. If you haven't had the furnace professionally inspected in a few years, just before winter is a great time to make an appointment.
Traditional wood-burning fireplaces are both cozy and a great source of supplemental heat. But you have to maintain them properly to keep everyone safe. Clear any obstructions, check the damper for proper operation, and inspect the firebrick. If all looks good, make sure the damper is open and then roll up and light some newspaper. The smoke should gently rise up the chimney and out of your home. If it doesn't, or if you can't remember the last time the chimney was cleaned, consider calling a chimney sweep.
If you live in a climate that gets snow and ice, you can extend the life of your air conditioner by taking a couple of easy winter precautions. Use a garden hose with a sprayer attachment to wash down the outdoor condenser unit. Let it dry thoroughly, and then top with a waterproof but breathable cover. If you have window units, remove them if possible so you can close the windows. If you can't remove them, close the vents and top them with covers designed for this purpose.
Unprotected water pipes are prone to freezing and occasionally bursting. If you have exposed pipes in an uninsulated area, wrap them in electrical heating tape and then add foam insulating sleeves. Disconnect and drain garden hoses, and then turn off the water to exterior faucets and drain them. If you're closing down a property for the season, turn off all water to it and thoroughly flush the system.
You can't rush a complete re-insulation job. But you can perform a couple of quick fixes. Wrap your water heater in an insulating blanket, add foam sealing gaskets around exterior outlets, and switch plates. If you have a leaky chimney on a fireplace you don't use, you can stuff some fiberglass insulation behind your fireplace screen. Just don't forget to remove it if you decide to use the fireplace!
Doors and windows are common culprits for cold air leaking into a home. Replace any loose or missing weather stripping. Inspect the frames and add new exterior grade caulking where needed. Replace any missing glazing putty on the windows and check the tracks for debris that could interfere with operation. On a windy day, check all exterior doors and windows for air leaks. Use rope caulk to plug the leaks.
Snow and ice add considerable weight to the roof, so now is the time to make sure it's in excellent shape. Replace any missing or damaged shingles, and take a careful look at the flashing around chimneys and other projections. Also, clean the gutters and make sure the downspouts are tightly fitted. If you're not comfortable working at heights, contact a professional.
Unless you're sure you know what you're doing, it's best to have your sprinkler system and swimming pool professionally winterized. Otherwise, you're at risk for freezing and cracking. If you decide to go the DIY route, make sure you're following all manufacturer instructions for your specific equipment.
Give your yard and patio a once-over. Consider sealing the deck and any concrete walkways or steps. Clean and store outdoor items such as your grill and hand tools, cover the patio furniture, and drain and store the lawnmower. Unplug and drain any water features.
Prepare now for possible winter weather emergencies. Make sure you have a few days' supply of water and nonperishable food, along with flashlights and plenty of batteries (and pet food, if applicable). You'll also need a weather radio and an alternative way to keep warm. Depending on your area, you may also need a snow shovel, some ice melt, and an ice scraper. Don't forget the emergency car kit with blankets, jumper cables, food, a radio, an ice scraper, and a first aid kit!
Winterizing your home doesn't have to be expensive. With the Save mailer, you'll receive weekly coupons on common household goods, as well as grocery items, restaurants, and more. Be sure to check your weekly Save mailer for savings on some winterizing tools.