The weather is nothing if not unpredictable here in North Texas, especially in the winter. We can see anything from rain, to sleet, to snow and the dreaded black ice. Then there are days when it is clear and sunny and almost 80 degrees.
Your home must endure all this to keep you comfortable, dry and safe all winter long. Have you done what you need to to ensure your home is ready for the battle?
If you didn’t look things over in the fall, now is a good time to double check and make sure your home is winter ready.
Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning
Your HVAC system is perhaps the most important system in your home when it comes to ensuring your comfort, especially this time of year. It can really get put through its paces as the temperatures swing from a mild pleasant day to downright freezing.
- Check your filters, and if any have been in there more than 3 months they probably need to be changed.
- If you have a gas furnace, be sure to check your CO detectors to ensure they are working.
- Check your outside unit for debris or vegetation that may be growing too close.
- If you have a heat pump, be sure to test the emergency heat by changing the setting on your thermostat and running it.
Nothing says cozy like a roaring fire inside on a cold day. There is something about the crackle of the fireplace that just makes us feel at home.
If it has been a while since you operated the fireplace or performed any maintenance on it, you may want to consider having a professional chimney sweep clean and inspect it for you before you use it.
- Open and close the damper, determine that it operates smoothly. While open, look up with a flashlight any debris.
- One way to check for obstructions is to roll several sheets of newspaper. Then, with the damper open, light one end and hold it in the firebox. The draft from the chimney should naturally draw the smoke and flame upward.
- Finally, regardless of the type of fireplace you have, take a flashlight and look closely to be sure the firewall is intact and there are no holes, loose components or visible cracks.
Frozen pipes lead to leaky pipes and that can be a real mess. While we rarely see weather cold enough for long enough here to cause a freeze break, it has happened. Homes with water wells and crawlspaces tend to be particularly susceptible to freeze breaks.
- Install insulated covers on your outdoor hose bibs. There are several types, all designed to keep your pipes warm in the winter.
- If you have a crawlspace or any exposed water supply piping, those pipes should be insulated using pipe insulation purchased from any hardware or home improvement store.
Windows and Doors
Windows and doors are some of the leading places where your home loses energy. Improper weatherstripping and older or non-insulated windows can cause your energy bills to be much higher than they need to be.
- Inspect your exit doors for weather stripping that is damaged or just not fitting well. Replace any weatherstripping that needs it.
- Your windows should be inspected for a draft. This is easier to do on a cold windy day; you can feel the air moving from around your window. If you find a drafty window, replace the caulking where necessary or apply some other type of air barrier such as shrink wrap insulation.
These are just a few of the things to think about when it comes to being sure your home is ready for winter. Many other systems in your home such as the roof, siding and foundation are all affected by the wide swings in temperature and precipitation.
At House Fluent Inspections, our annual property review home inspections provide you a comprehensive view of all the systems in your home. Finding a small problem today can help prevent thousands in repairs later.
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