Yes, you heard me, winter is definitely coming. Do not let the occasional 45 or 55 degree day, and the sun fool you. Your home breathes and moves like a living thing, expanding and contracting from the cold and heat, and taking in fresh air, and exhausting stale used air.
Considering that this is your Home that we are talking about, and not just a house, you should always make sure you are taking the best care of your home. Luckily many things your home needs, are easy to accomplish yourself, even if you are not mechanically inclined. Here is a short list of what I feel are the most important items you need to take care of, and why, before the real winter weather hits:
- REMOVE HOSES FROM EXTERIOR FAUCETS: Seems simple enough, but you would be surprised how many times I have forgotten to remove a hose. Luckily, our clients have frost proof hose bibs (faucets), and they do a great job protecting your pipes. However they are not foolproof. If your pipes freeze you can get interior leaks at any time from those burst pipes. This weekend, take a walk around your house and take off those hoses.
- ADJUST YOUR HUMIDIFIER: Cold air means dry air. Dry air and low humidity not only effect humans with issues like dry skin, it can cause your home to contract and tighten up, resulting in your trim separating in the joints and from the drywall in places. This leaves unsightly cracks that need to be recaulked, and repainted.
We have had a very wet Spring, Summer, and Fall creating humidity. Your home absorbs that humidity in the woods, floors, and other natural products found in your home. When the humidity is high, and the temperatures are warm, they expand. When it gets cold and dry, they contract. Your humidifier is typically attached to the upper portion of each of your furnace, and you either have a dial humidistat on the furnace, one located in the house, or one that autimatically samples the humidity and adjusts for you. Most of the time, we have manual humidistats, like in my own home. A book could be written on the perfect humidity level for your home. In fact you can visit this link to learn more. For those of you like me, that are looking for a quick fix, there are settings on the humidistat that are simple enough. They show what the outside temperature is, and the suggested normal humidity setting. So you can set your humidistat for the average temperature/humidity setting that is recommended. If you see that a deep freeze is coming, make sure you make the proper adjustment. It is much better to be on top of this, than it is to be cleaning up from it.
***If you see a little condensation gathering around the bottom of your window sashes, you are getting too much humidity for the home, and need to make adjustments down until it just goes away. I have been in homes that have so much humidity that when the temperature dropped water is literally flowing from the glass surface! Water can equal mold, so make sure you monitor your humidity.
- CHANGE YOUR HUMIDIFIER FILTER: Not only do you need to worry about your humidity levels, you need to make sure your humidifier is working properly. Depending on the manufacturer, there is either a clamp, or a lever to open up your humidifier. Once you open it, you will see a metal woven filter, if it looks brand new and you have not changed it recently, make sure the water is turned on, and it is plugged in. The water valve should be on a small copper line just above the humidifier, and the power is typically plugged into an outlet on the Furnace. If the filter is clogged, and white with deposits, it is time to replace it. Replacement filters can be found at any of the big box hardware stores, and even Target. They are simple to remove and replace. There are typically instructions on the humidifier, label, or the manual if you have it. If you do not have it. Unplug the unit, and turn the water valve perpindicular (off) and then remove the filter and replace it, then turn everything back on.
- CHANGE YOUR FURNACE FILTERS: You furnace filter is your first and sometimes your only line of defense against airborne allergens, dust, and other harmful particles that are propelled through your forced air heating and ventilation system for your home. Twice a year you should replace your filters. The filter is located adjacent to the lower Air Intake Duct of your furnace. You pop open the door, and pull the filter out, and simply replace with a new one, and close the filter door. Filters are available at all of the Big Box Hardware Stores, and they come in multiple sizes, and thicknesses. Typically the thicker, Hepa Filters, are the higher quality filter, and are a little more expensive than the standard skinny filters. You should change your filters twice a year. The beginning of Winter, and in the Spring. Changing these filters allows for more efficient air flow, and healthier air in your home. Especially from allergies. If you are concerned about allergies, there are other simple options you can add that are extremely effective, like UV Lighting that kills 99% of the airborne allergens, and electronic air cleaners. Contact the HVAC company you built with or you can contact John Hall Homes, or Hall Brothers Custom Cabinetry and Design
- CLEAR YOUR GUTTERS FOR POSSIBLE ICE DAMMING (Ice damming often occurs along your gutters when there is moisture, a quick freeze, and a quick thaw. The water is blocked from the roof and backs up, sometimes over your flashing, causing damaging leaks which may or may not be covered under your insurance) Ice Damming typically occurs on the colder dark side of the home, the North Side, on inside corners where the sun does not reach it enough to melt the ice in the gutters enough. Now is the best time to make sure that your gutters and downspouts are clear of debris. Also, a tip is to keep an eye on those trouble areas during the swings in winter weather, and remove excess snow to help prevent damming. Another solution is to use a gutter heater element that lays in the gutter and continously melts snow and ice to keep that area clear. If you have Ice Damming, you can also have your flashing re-caulked, and you can check your ice shielding on the roof under your shingles. Another more expensive, yet proper repair is to have the shingles removed, and the ice shielding and flashing re-done, and having the shingles replaced. We recommend having the opinion of a professional and licensed roofing company give you an inspection and repair estimate.
I hope you find the above tips effective and useful.