Even though winter has come early this year here are a few tips to get your house ready for winter. These will help your house survive whatever winter has to throw at it. If this winter is anything like last winter that may be a lot!
Tune Up Your Heating System
For about $80 to $100, a technician will inspect your furnace or heat pump to be sure the system is clean and in good repair, and that it can achieve its manufacturer-rated efficiency. The inspection also measures carbon-monoxide leakage.
If you act soon, you’ll minimize the chance of being 200th in line for repairs on the coldest day of the year. 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 ACCAs “national standard for residential maintenance” (or the QM, short for “quality maintenance”).
Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
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.
Prevent Ice Dams
If your home had lots of icicles last winter — or worse, ice dams, which can cause meltwater to back up and flow into your house — take steps to prevent potential damage this year.
A home-energy auditor or weatherization contractor can identify and fix air leaks and inadequate insulation in your home’s attic that can lead to ice dams. If you have the work done before December 31, 2013, you can claim the federal energy-efficiency tax credit for 10% of the cost (excluding installation), up to $500. Your state or utility may offer a rebate, too.
Hit the Roof
Or at least scan it closely with binoculars. Look for damaged, loose or missing shingles that may leak during winter’s storms or from melting snow.
If need be, hire a handyman to repair a few shingles ($95 to $127, according to www.costhelper.com) or a roofer for a larger section ($100 to $350 for a 100-square-foot area). Check and repair breaks in the flashing seals around vent stacks and chimneys, too.
If your roof is flat and surfaced with asphalt and pebbles, as many are in the Southwest, rake or blow off fall leaves and pine needles, which hold moisture, says Bill Richardson, past president of the American Society of Home Inspectors, in Albuquerque. (Don’t sweep aside the pebbles; that will expose the asphalt to damaging sunlight.)
Caulk Around Windows and Doors
Richardson says that if the 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’s impervious to the elements.
Try GE’s Silicone II Window and Door product, which is “rain ready” in three ($6 at Home Depot). Check window-glazing putty, too (which seals glass into the window frame). Add weatherstripping as needed around doors, making sure you cannot see any daylight from inside your home.
These are just some tips that will hopefully help you and your house survive this winter and many more!
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