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Winter Is Coming – 9 Ways To Prepare

Posted by Harvey McCallum on November 26, 2016
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The chill of Fall evenings is starting to point to an early Winter.  This is a good time to think about Winter, freezing temperatures, snow and the Christmas Holidays.  The Christmas Holiday season is closer than you think, we want to remember some important cold weather tips to stay warm and safe this Winter.

  1. Time For The Chimney Sweep.  WNothing says cozy like the fire in a wood burning fireplace.  All that smoke that is being produced in your fireplace needs to go up your chimney.  So make sure your fireplace is ready for all the happy moments.  Wood burning fireplace releases many types of gases become a solid again after cooling in your chimney box.  This creates a potential fire hazard from the sticky smelly mess called creosote. When enough creosote build up in your chimney, you could have a chimney fire. Have the chimney sweep check the damper so smoke does not back up into the house, and replace the chimney cap if required. Some animals consider your chimney home so create a barrier to entry with wire screen mesh to keep them out.
  2. Windows Should Be Airtight To Prevent Air Loss. The Department of Energy says about 10% of the air loss in your home is through the windows. Starting by checking the caulking around window frames and apply weather stripping between the sash and window frame.
  3. Get The Ladder And Clean the Gutters.  Remove the Fall season bounty of leaves that have accumulated in your gutter.  When you have the gutters nice and clean it is time to flush the gutters and downspouts with a garden hose.
  4. A Your Furnace Inspected.   Call an HVAC professional to check the fan belt that runs the blower, vacuum out dust and debris, and oil the bearings if necessary. Act now, because once winter hits, these professionals will be busy once the weather turns frigid. Look for a heating and air-conditioning contractor that belongs to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and employs technicians certified by the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) program. The contractor should follow the protocol for ACCAs “national standard for residential maintenance” (or the QM, short for “quality maintenance”). Buy enough filters to see you through the winter months and change them monthly–when filters become clogged with dust, the furnace doesn’t operate efficiently and your energy bill goes up.
  5. Protect The Pipes From Fost.  Minimize the possibility of water freezing in your plumbing pipes (causing them to burst), wrap each pipe in a blanket of foam insulation. Check hardware stores for these foam tubes, which have a slit on one side. Just cut the tube to the length you need, pull the slit open, and push the tube onto the pipe. You can secure it with duct tape if needed.
  6. Check & Reverse All The Ceiling Fans.   If your ceiling fan has a reverse switch, use it to run the fan’s blades in a clockwise direction after you turn on your heat. Energy Star says the fan will produce an updraft room heated air from the ceiling (remember, hot air rises).
  7. A Lazy Tip – Mulch While You Mow! Mow your leaves instead of raking them; say studies at the University of Michigan and Purdue. The trick is to cut the leaves, while dry, into dime-sized pieces that will fall among the grass blades, where they will decompose and nourish your lawn over the winter.
  8. Pruning – Wait Until Late Winter. You may be tempted to get out the pruning shears after the leaves fall when you can first see the underlying structure of the plant. But horticulturalists advise waiting to prune until late winter for most plants when they’ve been long dormant and just before spring growth begins.
  9. Stock Up On Suff Like Rock Salt.  Don’t wait until the first winter storm approaches, or you may be greeted with empty shelves. Stock up on some rock salt and ice melt now. Check your shovels to make sure they’re not damaged in any way, and if you have one, make sure your snow blower is maintained and ready to go when the next snowfall hits!