How to prepare your home for Winter

1. Time for a tune-up ! If you don't already have one, purchasing a bi-annual maintenance/service agreement is a great way to ensure the lifespan of your HVAC system. This service is performed once in the late Spring or early Summer and once in late Fall or early Winter. During these visits, a HVAC technician will inspect your furnace or heat pump to be sure the system is clean and in good repair, and that it can achieve its manufacturer-rated efficiency. The technician will measure carbon-monoxide leakage, evaluate for rust or other build-up on coils and sensors, check the pressure on the lines, and more! This of your HVAC system like a car - it is not going to run properly or last very long without the proper, routine maintenance.

2. Hot air rises ! Reverse the switch on your ceiling fan to run the fan’s blades in a clockwise direction after you turn on your heat. The ceiling fan will now produce an updraft and push the heated air down from the ceiling (remember, hot air rises). This is especially helpful in rooms with high ceilings -- and it might even allow you to turn down your thermostat by a degree or two for greater energy savings.

3. Seal the draft ! Time to make a trip to the hardware store! Make sure to caulk any gaps at the windows and doors. Silicone caulk is best for exterior use because it won’t shrink and is waterproof. Add weatherstripping as needed around doors, making sure you cannot see any daylight from inside your home.

4. Clear the gutters ! Make sure to clear your gutters of any debris or obstructions. If you don’t, you risk an ice dam; which occurs when ice melts off the roof during the day and then re-freezes as it drips into a clogged gutter. This can force water back under the roofline and cause serious leaks.

5. Don't get busted !

The last thing anybody wants to deal with is a frozen/busted pipe! During cold spells, wrap water pipes in your basement or crawl spaces with insulation sleeves to slow heat transfer and consider an insulated blanket for your hot water heater.

Also, keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes [especially those in the kitchen and bathrooms]. Lastly, keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through unheated or unprotected spaces.

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