Fall Inside Maintenance

Winterizing Your Home Inside, it is just as important to do maintenance inside as outside. Take care of these following elements before winter, so you can enjoy the snow in cozy comfort and not worry about your home.

Winterizing Heating System Before Freezing Temps: (video) The heating system is perhaps the most critical element for your home in winter, and the time to check your furnace and other heating appliances is in the fall–no later than the middle of October. Give your system a test run through and make sure all systems are operating. Proper weatherization involves a systematic review of your home’s HVAC (furnace). Either have the furnace checked by a service technician or do this work yourself. Most seasonal maintenance tasks are well within a homeowner’s skill range.

Test Run: Turn the thermostat to heat mode and set it to 70 degrees, just for testing. You should hear the furnace turn on, and warm air should begin to blow within a few minutes. If the furnace is running fine, turn the thermostat back to its normal setting. If the furnace is not running properly, you may need to call a qualified service technician.

Replace the air filter: (video) It’s easy, and doing so will ensure a free flow of air and a cleaner environment. Each furnace has its own requirements for air filters, so follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. A monthly replacement of the air filter is usually recommended. Check out a video about different filters.

Inspect and clean heating vents: Clear obstacles to heating vents, so air can freely flow. Many experts recommend having a service technician come in and clean the vents every year or two.

Check for carbon monoxide leaks: This silent killer can easily be detected with either an inexpensive test badge or battery-operated alarm. If you discover problems, call in a professional to identify and correct the cause of the CO leak. Usually, this involves leakage in the exhaust system of a furnace or other fuel-burning appliance, such as a water heater. Don’t put this work off; a CO leak is a very dangerous situation.

Check exhaust vents: Some furnaces, as well as gas water heaters, vent through a chimney, while newer high-efficiency models may vent through plastic pipes running through a side wall. Make sure these vents are open and free of obstructions. A vent that hasn’t been used all summer may have become home to birds or other animals, which can block the vent pipes and interfere with the furnace’s ability to burn efficiently and properly vent exhaust gases.

Winterize Window Air Conditioners: As for window air conditioners, remove them if possible and store for winter. Left in windows, these appliances are very hard to seal effectively against winter drafts. If they can’t be removed, then close the vents and make sure to get an air conditioning cover similar to the condensing unit cover described above.

Clean Your Dryer Vents: As the colder months set in, your dryer is likely to get more use. Dryers can be a fire hazard, causing 15,000 fires each year , so it is important to reduce this risk. Make sure to remove built-up lint from the dryer in order to reduce the fire risk and improve your household energy efficiency.

Fist thing, clean the lint filter and lint trap. Next, clean the lint vents. You will need to pull the dryer away from the wall to get behind the dryer and reach the vent. Unhook the vent from the back of the dryer, use your vacuum cleaner to suck the lint out (you can also purchase bushes that hook onto your vacuum to) be gentle when twisting the brush. Then reconnect the vent and turn your dryer on for around 15 minutes. This forces air through the vents and will blow out any lint that may have been in the tubing or stuck in the outer vent.

Check Your Sump Pump: your sump pumps act as the last line of defense against condensation buildup, floods, and water from drains. Test the pump before winter hits. You want to make sure it works; otherwise, you could end up with a flooded basement and foundation damage. Once you locate the exit pipe, check it for any dirt and debris. If there are clogs, remove them. Make sure that the water is being directed well away from your home’s foundation. If you have a dual cord pump, both cords should be unplugged. If you can hear a humming sound when you plug in the pump cord, this means that it’s working as it should. Remember to plug everything back in though after testing. If you have a single cord pump, pour 20 liters of water into the pump pit until the float rises. You should hear the pump turn on. While on, make sure the water is pumping out as it should, and the pump turns itself off when the water is removed. It may be worth investing in a water detector to further protect your basement from moisture.

Seal Leaky Doors and Windows: Check your windows and doors by opening and closing them. When you close the lock, do you notice a gap between the seals?

If you have old windows, you can add new weather stripping. There is a variety you can choose from:

  • Bronze weather stripping can last for decades, but it can be time-consuming to install.
  • Self-stick plastic is easy to put on, but they will need to be changed often as they don’t last long.
  • Adhesive-backed EPDM rubber meets in the middle, and it can last up to 10 years at the least.

Once you have changed the weather stripping on your windows, you’ll need to do the same with your door — and check for air leaks. There are some options here too that you can choose from:

  • Foam-tape that has an adhesive backing.
  • Felt – this is cheap and easy to install, but has a low durability and will need replacing more often.
  • Tubular rubber, vinyl or silicone; these are more expensive and trickier to install but will provide a superior seal.

Check the exterior trim for any gaps between it and the door frame. Caulk any gaps with exterior latex caulk.

If a draft comes through the bottom, check the condition of the threshold gasket. If worn, replace it. You can also install a weather-resistant door sweep designed for exteriors.

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