Winterize Your Colorado Home

by ARVADA FLOOR, November 1, 2013

Now is a good time to start preparing your home for winter.  Here are a few tips:

DO FIRST

  1. Insulate the hot water heater – As one of the largest energy users in the home, this is a simple and easy way to maximize efficiency in the cold months.
  2. Repair insulation in attics and crawl spaces – Adding or repairing insulation will save you money and ensure your home remains properly heated. Rule of thumb – regardless of where you live in the U.S. you need a minimum of 12 inches of insulation in your attic.
  3. Protect your pipes – drain the lines, turn off valves, and insulate.
  4. Clear the gutters – this ensures nothing backs up or freezes, which will cause water to seep into the house. Downspouts should carry water away from the home’s foundation.
  5. Schedule a check up on your furnace – before old man winter rears his ugly head, you will want to make sure your furnace is in tip-top shape. Getting regular check-ups by a professional and replacing the filter are key.
  6. Check weather stripping on windows and doors. Use caulk to seal cracks around the frames.
  7. Other weather-relat
  8. Switch ceiling fans to rotate in a clockwise direction. That will help move the warm air trapped at the ceiling in and around the home.
  9. Keep shades and curtains open during the day on the south side of your home to allow solar heating. Close them at night to retain heat.
  10. Ensure fireplace dampers are closed when not in use to prevent warm air from escaping through the chimney.
  11. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower during the day. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that for every degree you turn down your thermostat for an eight-hour period in the winter, you can expect a correlating percentage of energy savings.

Landscaping

  • Store or cover outdoor furniture, toys and grill.
  • Purchase rock salt for melting snow and a shovel or snow blower if you don’t already have one. Make sure you have the right kind of gas and oil on hand for your snow blower in the case of an unexpected snowstorm.
  • Caulk joints and minor cracks on exterior walls and siding.
  • Look for deteriorating finishes. Minor problems can be patched to preserve the wood. Put bigger jobs, such as scraping and refinishing painted or stained areas, on the calendar for next spring or early summer.
  • Drain and shut off sprinkler systems and other exterior water lines to avoid frozen and broken pipes. Leave all taps slightly open.
  • Insulate exterior spigots and other pipes that are subject to freezing but can’t be drained or shut off.
  • Rake and compost leaves and garden debris, or put out for yard-waste pickup.
  • Clean storm drains, gutters and other drain pipes.
  • Check the foundation for proper drainage. To do this, spray yard with a hose to see if water runs away from the house. A little shoveling to reshape the earth next to the house may make the water run away from the foundation.
  • Make sure dirt or piles of wood don’t come into contact with or touch siding, inviting termites and carpenter ants into the house.
  • Seal driveway and walkway cracks, if needed, before ground freezes regularly.
  • Rake all debris away from foundation.
  • Trim trees & remove dead branches.
  • Get sprinkler system blown-out and winterized.
  • Disconnect garden hoses from exterior faucets and drain them.

Inspecting & Sealing

  • Seal entry points to keep critters out of your house.
  • Seal foundation cracks.
  • Inspect sill plates for dry rot and pest infestation.
  • Secure crawl space entrances.
  • Inspect deck.  If needed, apply a fresh coat of sealer.

Fireplace/Chimney

  • Inspect fire brick in fireplace. Repair any open mortar joints immediately.
  • Inspect chimney for any nests and/or debris.
  • Install chimney screen.

Roof

  • Check roof for damaged shingles and have them replaced.
  • Check flashing around chimneys & roof projections.  These are often a source of leaks.
  • Clean out your gutters and downspouts.

Other

  • Shovel promptly, especially around garage door, so it closes completely and doesn’t warp.
  • Make any necessary repairs to handrails & steps to help avoid accidents once the inclement weather hits.
  • Cover patio furniture.
  • Drain gas from lawn mower and other outdoor tools.
  • Clean your A/C condensing unit so it is free of dirt & debris.
  • Cover A/C condensing unit with a breathable, waterproof cover for extended life.

Ducts

  • Have ducts cleaned about every 5 years.

Detectors

  • Install and/or test smoke detectors.
  • Install and/or test Radon Detectors.
  • Install Carbon Monoxide detector near furnace/hot water heater.
  • Buy extra batteries for your detectors.
  • Replace any fire extinguishers older than 10 years.

Windows and doors

  • Inspect for cracks around doors & windows.
  • Caulk windows.
  • Use weather-stripping around doors.
  • Replace cracked glass.
  • Cover window wells with plastic shields.
  • Switch out summer screens with storm windows.

Prepare an emergency kit

  • Prepare evacuation Plan.
  • Buy Indoor Candles & matches in case of a power outage.
  • Put an Emergency Contact list together and post it in an obvious location (include hospitals, utility companies, babysitters, etc).
  • Buy some extra bottled water and non-perishable food supplies in case you get snowed in!
  • Store extra blankets and a first aid kit in a dry and easy-to-access location.
  • Check your hot water heater for leaks and maintain proper temperature setting (120 degrees recommended by Department of Energy). On older water heaters with less insulation, for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit you lower the temperature, you save 6 percent of your water heating energy.
  • Check basement and cellars for seal cracks or leaks in walls and floor.
  • Make sure all vents are clean and operating properly.
  • Clean and vacuum baseboard heaters, heating ducts and vents.
  • Remove or winterize air conditioning units.

 

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