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Tips to get your house ready for winter

Alerus | NOV 20, 2017

Winter is almost here. Is Your Home Ready?

As we enjoy the beautiful days of fall, it’s hard to think about what comes next, but winter is inevitable and these helpful tips can give you peace of mind and save you money when the snow starts to fall and the temperatures drop.  

1. Clean out the gutters:  Leaves and debris should be removed, whether by hand or with a scraper or other tool. And after that, give the gutters a good rinse with a hose.  Doing this prevents clogs, which in turn helps prevent water from backing up, freezing and causing seepage into your house.  It’s also a good idea to ensure your downspouts are directing water away from the house’s foundation in order to prevent water damage.

2. Block those air leaks: A great way to winterize your home is by blocking air leaks that you find inside and outside the house.  So how do you find the leaks? Here’s one way: wait for a breezy day, then light an incense stick and hold it up to the most common drafty areas inside a house: recessed lighting, window and door frames, and electrical outlets. To battle the leaks, put door sweeps underneath exterior doors, and caulk those drafty spots.  For electrical outlets that share a home’s outer walls, install outlet gaskets.  You can also attack leaks from the outside by applying weather-resistant caulking.  

3. Check the furnace: It’s good idea to fire up the furnace before it gets cold outside, just to make sure it works. And, change your filter – a dirty one makes your furnace work unnecessarily hard – and make sure to check the filter every month during the winter and change it if needed.

4. Get your ducts in a row:  The U.S. Department of Energy says a home can lose up to 60 percent of its heated air before it even reaches the vents if ductwork is not well-connected and insulated, or if ducts are routed through unheated spaces.  So take a look at ducts in the attic, the basement and crawlspaces, and repair them or fix gaps with a metal-backed tape. Professional duct cleaning is a good idea every few years as well. 

5. Address the windows: It’s a good idea to take down screens and put up storm windows (if you have them) because they offer another layer of protection. If you don’t have storm windows, and your windows are leaky or drafty, consider using a window insulation kit. Or, if you have the financial means, you could have new windows installed.  

6. Reverse your ceiling fans: In the winter, your ceiling fan should be set to push warm air downward and force it to recirculate.  Here’s how you know the fan is ready for winter: as you look up, the blades should be turning clockwise. 

7. Wrap those pipes:  Avoid the nightmare of frozen pipes by remembering to shut off the water valves that feed your hose bibs. Draining the water lines is a great idea, too. Next, look around the house for pipes that aren’t insulated or that pass through unheated spaces.  If you find any, wrap them with foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation.  Heating tape can also be used if you’re very worried about a pipe freezing up.

8. Check those alarms: Check the operation and change the batteries on your home’s smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Fire officials recommend replacing detectors every 10 years.  And while you are thinking about it, check to see that your fire extinguisher is where it should be and still works. 

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