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If You Haven’t Already, Now is the Time to Winterize Your Home

Winterizing your home in North Texas can be tricky. Is it winter yet? Still summer? Maybe it’s Fall?  Oh no, surprise an arctic freeze! And then it’s hot again.

But staying on top of this household chore can prevent a major headache down the road. Some of these tasks you could do on your own in a weekend. Others you may need to find a trusted contractor to do them for you and ensure they are done right.

Gutter clean out.

Jammed gutters can lead to the development of ice dams on your roof. Ice dams happen when water backs up and freezes near the edge of the roof. The ice continues to build up and ultimately forms “dams” that block the pathway of melted snow from your roof. Water starts pooling in mini reservoirs and starts to seep into your house, causing water damage. To avoid ice dams, clean out the dead leaves and other gunk in your gutters so water can drain freely.

Get a professional chimney inspection.

Before you start making those delicious s’mores on an open fire, have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean your chimney. Thousands of fires each winter begin in chimneys. A chimney sweep can check the structure of your flue and remove any combustibles or obstructions in your fireplace. For further information on finding a chimney sweep, visit the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s website at csia.org.

Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Winter sees an increase in the number of home fires and cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. Mostly due to people running their furnaces and boilers overtime to stay warm. To maintain your family’s safety, check the batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and change them if needed.

Cover your pipes.

Insulating your pipes decreases heat loss and can increase hot water temperatures delivered through your pipes. Thus, allowing you to reduce the heat on your boiler. And resulting in you saving money on your gas bill. And by making your pipes energy efficient, you also don’t have to wait as long for hot water when you turn on the shower. Another plus for the environment, conserving water and time.

Additionally, wrapping your pipes with insulation helps prevent your pipes from freezing during those long cold nights. You can purchase pre-slit pipe foam at the hardware store. Just cut the foam to the length you need, wrap it around the pipe, and fasten it in place with duct tape.

Inspect your insulation.

By merely adding more fiberglass insulation in your attic you can boost the energy efficiency in your entire home. You must have a minimum of 12 inches of insulation in your attic. If your insulation falls a bit short, just add another layer of the pink or yellow, itchy stuff. If you’re adding new insulation to your current insulation, make sure the new insulation doesn’t have a paper backing. The paper will act as a vapor barrier and can cause problems for you down the road.

Replace your furnace filter frequently.

Change your furnace’s filters regularly throughout the winter. A dirty filter prevents air flow, reduces efficiency, and could even cause a fire in extreme situations. You might consider replacing your disposable filters with reusable electrostatic or electronic ones. Just give them a monthly wash, and they’re good to go another round.

Reverse ceiling fans.

Not many people are aware that you can use your fans during the winter to keep your house warm. On every ceiling fan, there’s a switch that lets you reverse the direction of the blades. Switch it, so your ceiling fan rotates clockwise. This pushes the warm air down, forcing it to re-circulate throughout the room. Just be sure to make the switch again when it starts to warm up!

Call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace.

Before turning the furnace on for the first time this winter, get an HVAC professional come to check it out and give it a tune-up. They’ll make sure your furnace is running safely and efficiently. During a furnace inspection the HVAC will probably do the following:

  • Perform a safety check for carbon monoxide
  • Check blower operation
  • Clean and replace air filters
  • Inspect gas piping to furnace
  • Clean motor and fan

Ask him to check your heating ducts while he is there.   Studies have shown that up to 60% of heated air leaks from ducts before making it to the vents. That’s a lot of money escaping out of your pocket. The HVAC guy will be able to check for any leaks in your air duct system. Then take the necessary steps to seal them.

Trim any nearby trees.

If you have any tree branches hanging near your roof, windows, or driveways, cut them back. Snow and ice will weigh them down and possibly cause them to break. Once they break, they could cause significant damage to whatever they land on.