Winter is on the way. And while winter in Texas is not like winter in Minnesota, it’s a good idea to take a few steps to prepare your house.
- Draft-proof your home.
Drafts can creep in through gaps in areas such as windows, doors, and pipes leading outside. These gaps will let moisture and little critters in as well as the cold air (it’s amazing how little room a mouse needs to get inside your house).
Check the windows. If your house has older windows, look for loose or missing pieces of glazing. Clean out any that is loose. Remove any dust or debris and then apply a bead of silicon caulk. You could also apply a window film or hang insulated curtains.
Make sure the weather stripping around your exterior doors is intact and gives a good seal along all the edges. Replace any that is worn or damaged. Install new sweeps.
- Clean and maintain the gutters.
Leaves, twigs, and other debris that collects in your gutters should be cleaned out. Start near the downspout removing larger pieces and dumping them in a bucket or other receptacle. Flush the gutter with a garden hose starting with the end opposite the downspout. If the water doesn’t drain, check the downspout strainer. If, after you’ve made sure that’s clean, the water still doesn’t drain, the downspout may be clogged. If the downspout is clogged, flush it from the bottom of the spout up. If that doesn’t do it, use a plumber’s snake to clear the blockage.
Inspect the gutter and downspouts for damage and missing parts. Replace hangers as needed, and repair any leaks at the seams or caps with a gutter sealant.
- Inspect your roof.
Look for missing or damaged shingles, ones that are curled or buckled, and shingles that have lost a noticeable amount of their granules. Shingles that buckle in the middle of the tab could be an indication that there’s excess moisture due to poor venting in the attic. That should be addressed as soon as possible. Make sure there are no birds’ nests in the vents. Curling shingles and those losing a lot of granules are an indication that you’ll have to replace your roof in the foreseeable future, probably in one to three years. Missing shingles should be replaced without delay – you don’t want snow, rain and ice making their way through the bare spots on the roof and into the house. Most people generally only ever see one or two slopes of their roof, so be sure to check the entire roof.
- Maintain your furnace.
Replace the furnace filters and make sure that the cold air returns are unobstructed by furniture. Clogged filters or blocked returns will reduce your furnace’s efficiency and cost you extra heating dollars.
Furnace filters should be changed every month during the winter. Alternatively, get permanent washable filters. They’re more expensive to buy than the disposable fiberglass filters but they’re better at trapping dust, bacteria, and mold and can save you money in the long run.
It’s also a good idea to have your heating system checked annually by a professional.
- Install a programmable thermostat.
Programmable thermostats are a great way to regulate the temperature in your house according to the time of day. For instance, you can set it to cool the house while you sleep but have it toasty again for when you get up. Some programmable thermostats can be adjusted from your cell phone, in the event that you want to make changes while you’re away.
Lowering the temperature for those periods when you’re away translates lower heating costs.
- Reverse your ceiling fans.
Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans. Fans should rotate clockwise at a low speed. This pulls cooler air up and pushes warm air down along the walls to the floor. Every little bit helps.
- Insulate your hot water heater.
Newer hot water tanks generally are already insulated; the older ones are probably not. An easy way to determine whether you need to insulate the tank is to touch it. If it is warm to the touch, it needs additional insulation. Pre-cut jackets or blankets are readily available and are not expensive. A small investment could save you as much as 15% on your water heating bill.
- Winterize your outdoor faucets.
Winterizing your outdoor faucets will prevent them from freezing that can destroy the faucet and lead to a burst pipe. Turn off the water going to the outdoor faucet and then disconnect and drain any hoses attached to the faucets.
- Winterize your garden.
Now is the time to prepare your garden for winter with a few simple steps. Cut back perennials to help promote a stronger root system. Remove any thick layers of dead leaves from the garden as a heavy blanket of dead leaves can rot out the plants underneath. Water the garden thoroughly before the temperatures dip below freezing. Moist soil stays warmer than dry soil. Spread some compost in the garden and add some mulch. A layer of mulch will help to regulate soil temperature, keep moisture in the soil, and suppress weeds. Protect any newly-planted trees and the more delicate plants from cold winds by wrapping them in burlap or newspapers.
Your home is a big investment. Sunshine Sunrooms can help you with all of your design, renovation, and construction needs. Call us today at (972) 243-5390