With winter's cold weather just around the corner, now is the time to winterize your home. Here are 8 easy steps to take this week.
- Winterize your hose bibs. If you leave water in lines that service your hoses, you risk a busted pipe and costly water damage that may not be covered by warranties and insurance. Begin by turning off the water to your house bibs via the shut-off valve(s) in your garage or utility closet. Next, open and drain all exterior bibs (leaving the valve open all winter). If your shut-off valve includes a bleeder, your last step is to remove the cap on the bleeder and let the remaining water drain out into a bucket. Replace the cap on the bleeder once the draining is complete.
- Clear your gutters and downspouts. Damming and ice buildup in your gutters can cause your gutters to pull away from your house and/or water to build up under the shingles and eventually into the house. You can decrease the likelihood of these fates by clearing your gutters of leaves and other obstructions.
- Check your window seals and exterior door thresholds. Air drafts from your windows and doors will cause you to lose heat and require your system to work harder to keep your home warm. First, make sure all windows are latched for proper seal between upper and lower sashes. Second, check thresholds on all exterior doors and adjust them by simply turning the screws. Typically, in winter months, due to contraction, you may need to raise the threshold to prevent cold air drafts from under the doors. You'll want to check and adjust them again when the weather warms up next year.
- Clean or replace your furnace filters. Failure to keep your filters clean can create uneven airflow and put an unnecessary strain on the system, which may void your warranty. Maintenance providers recommend changing your filters up to once per month during the winter season, but consult your owner's manual for manufacturer's recommendations. Changing your filters will also help to keep your evaporator coils clean (See #5).
- Clean your HVAC's condensate lines and evaporator coils. Dirty evaporator coils in your furnace can cause condensate lines to clog and then back up causing water damage to your home. We recommend that you have a licensed professional HVAC service technician check and clean your system on an annual basis.
- Balance your system's airflow by adjusting the supply registers. Begin with the coldest room first by adjusting the supply registers to the full open position. Set the thermostat to maintain the desired temperature in the coldest room, then adjust all the other supply registers accordingly in the warmer rooms until you have balanced the entire system. If you have a single heating unit, make sure that your volume dampers (located in your mechanical room) are set appropriately for the winter season.
- Keep the outdoor unit clear. With all the leaves that have fallen off trees in recent weeks, now is a good time to check our outdoor heat pump unit. The accumulation of anything (including snow or ice) on or around the unit can cause inefficiency or damage to the unit, so you will want to check it regularly throughout winter. In an EYA townhouse, your heat pump is the taller of the two outdoor units and has a model number that starts with the letters HP.
- Warm up your gas fireplace. Don't wait until five minutes before your holiday party to turn on your fireplace for the first time! The initial use of your gas fireplace requires eight to 10 hours of constant burn on high to remove any chemical odors. We recommend that you open your windows to allow constant fresh air in the room during this period. This may also help prevent your smoke detector from activating.
And here are five bonus tips that don't need to be taken asap, but you should consider as fall rolls into winter:
- If you are going to be away from home for an extended period of time, turn off the main water supply (but not the supply to the sprinkler system) and keep all interior doors open to allow warm air to circulate.
- When it snows, be sure to clear drains and downspouts to avoid water seepage into your home. Do not allow snow to build up or around doors and windows.
- On extremely cold days, you may find it more comfortable to switch your thermostat setting from auto to on, which keeps air continuously circulating through the system rather than frequently cycling it off and on. Close the doors to any unused rooms.
- Open window treatments during the day where windows face the sun to allow for passive heat to enter through the glass; Close the treatments at night to retain the heat in your home. Furniture and area rugs will also help to retain heat. (Yes, we just gave you an excuse to go shopping!)
- Seal your garage slab to prevent damage from melting road salts, or periodically clean your concrete slab if it is untreated. Also be cautious not to use any chemicals or salts that will damage brick sidewalks.