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10 Cash-Saving Tips to Winterize Your Home

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

With the onset of fall, winter is just around the corner – and now is the time to prepare your home for the cold months to come. Keep Jack Frost from nipping at your pockets by planning ahead with these cash-saving tips to winterize your home:

1. Seal Leaks and Re-Touch Exterior Paint

Air leakage accounts for about 30 percent of heating expenses. Caulk around window and door moldings. Place weather-stripping around doorframes and at the top and bottom of window sashes. Outside, touch up exterior paint and use weather-resistant caulking to seal leaks. Switch out summer window screens with glass replacements. 

2. Clean Gutters and Downspouts

Remove leaves and other debris from gutters and downspouts so that rain and melting snow can properly drain. Clogged drains can lead to ice dams, in which water backs up and freezes, causing water to seep into the house.ot;>

3. Test Smoke Detectors

Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detector, and radon detector to ensure proper operation.

4. Check and Clean Septic System

Have your tank pumped out and your system inspected every three to five years by a licensed septic contractor. If your system has a flow diversion valve, learn its location and turn it on once a year.

5. Check and Clean Heating System

Have your heating system cleaned and repaired if necessary while it’s not in use. Change the air filter and replace at least every 3 months during each heating season. If your heating system is equipped with a humidifier, be sure to clean the system to remove accumulated mineral deposits, which can interfere with proper functioning.

6. Check Insulation

Check the attic insulation to be sure the entire ceiling area is covered. Make sure the insulation is not blocking the vents. These vents must remain clear to prevent the buildup of condensation and to allow the proper amount of air circulation.

7. Protect Pipes and Outdoor Faucets

Before the first big freeze hits, be sure to shut off and drain hose bibs. The control valve is usually inside the house close to where to water supply goes through the exterior wall. Open outside faucets to drain off any excess water. Store hoses to avoid freezing.

8. Clean Around Outdoor Units

Trim or remove grass, weeds, leaves, and other debris from around the outdoor unit of your heating or cooling system. Blocked airflow puts a strain on the system and lowers efficiency.

9. Prepare Chimneys and Fireplaces

It’s a good idea to have your chimney inspected before use each year. Buy a protective cap or screen for the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds. Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing.

10. Protect Driveways, Walks, and Steps

Most exposed concrete surface deterioration is caused by deicing chemical solutions. Instead of deicers or salt, try using cat litter or sand for traction. Both are safe for driveways, walks, steps, and nearby grass or shrubs. If you must use a deicer, never use products containing ammonium sulphate or ammonium nitrate – they will rapidly disintegrate concrete.

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