Even though here in Georgetown, TX, we are not experiencing the freezing temperatures, snow, and ice like our friends in the northern part of the country, it is still important to make sure our homes are ready for winter. Here are a few tips to save money and to make your home warmer and safer this winter season.
Check your Furnace – Make sure to replace your filter (manufactures’ recommendation is every 6 months, but it depends on your home’s traffic level). It is also good practice to clean your blower, ducts, and vents on a yearly basis, which should include an inspection for duct leaks. When air is blowing through your ductwork it vibrates, and this can cause the connections to come loose. This can create leaks, causing the loss of warm air.
Water Heaters – During the winter months, there is nothing more inviting than a hot bath or shower to warm you up. It is important to have your water heater flushed twice a year. This will clear out the sediment and scale that accumulates inside. Caution: When draining, the water comes out hot so be careful!
Gutters- If your gutters are clogged, water can overflow and penetrate to your interior walls. This can create water damage and mold if the moisture isn’t remediated quickly enough. Also, if the clogged water in your gutter’s freezes, it will become heavier and could break your gutters.
Windows – Check for gaps around your windows to make sure that no cold air is coming in. The caulking around the windows is exposed to the elements. It is common practice for a homeowner to address caulking separation every couple of years. Also, make sure the weather stripping is properly sealing your windows. Check the weather stripping on your doors as well. Condensation forms on windows when the temperature of the frame and glass drops below the dew point temperature as it relates to the humidity in your home. This can occur frequently when the outside temperature is colder than the inside. Condensation is not considered a defect.
Exposed Pipes – Be sure to remove garden hoses and add insulated covers to outdoor faucets to prevent freezing. Drip indoor faucets when temperature is below freezing.
Fireplaces – Fireplaces make those cold nights so much warmer, especially with a cup of hot chocolate. To make them safe for your family, it’s important to inspect your chimney to make sure there is no buildup of creosote and to make sure no creatures have built a home in your chimney during the warm months. Be sure to remove the creatures, if necessary, and then the creosote.
Ceiling Fans – Reverse your ceiling fans to push the warm air down from the ceiling.
Trees – If tree branches accumulate ice, they become heavy and can break. It is important to trim trees that hang over your home, car, and sidewalk, as they could cause property damage or physical injury if they break and fall.
Landscaping, Irrigation, and Drainage – Once installed; sod, trees, and shrubbery, sprinklers and drip irrigation need constant care and attention. It is important to monitor your irrigation system so over watering does not take place. It is recommended to turn your irrigation control box off during a wet winter.
Alarms – Test carbon monoxide and smoke alarms monthly, replace the batteries twice a year (it’s recommended to do this at each Daylight Savings Time change), and replace the alarms every 10 years or as directed by the manufacturer.