While the temperatures in North Carolina have been all over the place this January, it is definitely still winter and frosty weather still could hit the triangle between now and Spring. Your furnace still has a job to do and it's still important to winterize your home (if you haven't already). While our homes may not require the same amount of winterizing efforts that our neighbors to the north may require, today we'll discuss four simple ways you can reduce energy waste, save money on your utility bills, and protect your home against the elements this winter.
Check and Clean Your Ductwork
If your home has central heating, the first step to winterizing your home is to check the ductwork for any dents, breaks and proper insulation. Start by checking the exposed ductwork in the attic or basement. Then take the register grates off the vents in your home and use a mirror and flashlight to check out the duct interior.
Seal any cracks with specialty tape and replace or reinforce duct insulation where lacking. You can find most of what you need at your neighborhood home improvement store, but make sure that you get insulation that is made for ductwork. If you find any dents, fix them yourself if possible, but you may need to hire a professional to repair larger or more severe dents. It's important to repair these as dents can restrict the airflow and prevent the maximum amount of heated air from reaching the vents.
While you're checking your ductwork, go ahead and clean out your ducts. Remove any hair, dirt, and excess dust using your vacuum cleaner's hose. It's important to clean these out to prevent any loss of heat from your system.
If you find that after checking and cleaning out your ducts that your furnace is still not putting out the level of heat you are expecting, you should go ahead and schedule a maintenance check. Call CHOICE Heating & Air Conditioning today to check that your furnace, heat pump or boiler are all working effectively. HVAC systems that are regularly maintained will last longer and keep your family warm and budget-conscious this winter.
Properly Seal Your Windows
If you have an older home, your windows may require a little extra attention when it comes to winterizing your home. Heat tends to escape through your windows if they are not well insulated and sealed, so in order to effectively winterize your home, you need to make sure that your windows are properly sealed.
To properly insulate and seal your windows, you can start by replacing your screens with storm windows (if you have them). Then seal any gals with caulk to prevent cold drafts and heat leaks. If your windows have warped over time, you can buy foam strips at your local home improvement store to fill in the gaps between the window and sill. You could also try a window insulator kit to reduce heat loss. They aren't always the most attractive solution, but these clear plastic sheets are fairly easy to shrink wrap to the window with a hairdryer.
Unclog Your Gutters
We recommended that you clean out your gutters at the start of winter, but Mother Nature has given us a few winter storm doozies this year. Therefore, you may want to check your gutters again and clean out any fallen leaves and other gunk that has built up in your gutters over the past few months. It's important to unclog your gutters and downspouts because water trapped inside can rot eave boards and home siding, and damage your home's foundation, all of which can cause costly repairs in the future if left untreated.
Once you've cleared out any debris from your gutters, run water through your gutters using a garden hose. This is less about cleaning your gutters (although helpful) and more about checking for any leaks and spots where the downspout has disconnected from the eave trough. This will also help you see if there are clogs in the downspout. If you find an issue, you can use specialty silicone gutter caulk found at your local home improvement store to the gaps and remove blockages by spraying water into the downspout. For really tough or hard to reach clogs, you can take the spout off. Just be sure to reattach the dislocated downspout and caulk seams when you're done.
Why is this important to winterize your home? In the event of a winter storm, the weight of the snow and ice can pull gutters from the structure where gutter spikes are loose. Therefore it's important to unclog, clean and resecure your gutters now to prevent a much bigger problem.
Don't Forget Lawn Care Equipment and Sprinklers
While tending to the rest of your home, don't forget your lawn care equipment. Typically you shouldn't need to use any motorized lawn care equipment during the winter. Grass has gone dormant and won't require a trim for a few more months. Therefore, drain any extra fuel from your lawnmower and any other machines that require gas to prevent gunk from corroding your engine You can also run the engine to burn off what’s left inside the system and tank.
While you're at it, turn off the water to your sprinkler system. Shut off your outside faucets and drain the remaining water from the open spigots to eliminate the risk of your pipes bursting. Also, drain your garden hoses and store them in the garage or a storage shed for the remainder of winter (if you haven't already).
January is a great month to call Call CHOICE Heating & Air Conditioning. Don't wait for your HVAC system to fail. Call and have one of our HVAC experts check out your system. Don't forget to ask about our current offers.