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When the Weather Changes – Clean, Inspect, and Be Safe! 

The weather is changing fast! The three main things to remember is to clean, inspect, and follow these basic common-sense safety precautions. These will help ensure that your home is warm and cozy for the chilly nights coming up! These tips will help make your home safer and more energy-efficient, as well as help prevent mold and water damage during the cold weather months coming up!

A very easy first step to getting ready for the cold seasons is to clean all of your household humidifiers and dehumidifiers. These are easily cleaned with vinegar and water. Be sure to replace or wash the filters as well. As the air inside and outside your home gets colder and dryer, you may want to put a humidifier in. The down side of using a humidifier is the possibility of too much humidity. This may cause mold growth. To avoid this possibility, the humidity in your home should not exceed more than 45%. On the opposite end of the spectrum are dehumidifiers. As this time of the year is also hurrricane season, your basement may become cold and damp. A good way to stop or slow mold growth is to have a dehumidifier drying out those damp areas.

When was the last time you cleaned your furnace? Check with your local HVAC company for cleaning guidelines. If you don’t, you could get a buildup of dust or sediment (depending on if your basement is finished or not) and it could become a fire hazard! It’s a good idea to change the furnace filter at this time of the year also. Be sure to stock up on filters so that you can change them as necessary! When considering cleaning your heating system, don’t forget the ductwork. When was the last time your ductwork was cleaned? Think of all the dust and debris that has built up in you ductwork. Once the heat goes on, that dust and debris begins to circulate as well. If you have pets, it is recommended that you have your ducts cleaned at least one every 4-5 years.

Doors & Windows: While some items may require professionals, there are many things homeowners can do themselves to get ready for the winter. The first such is to inspect your property’s doors and windows. They are a homeowner’s first line of defense against the cold and elements. Check for any drafts. Caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping. Inspect all weather stripping around windows and doorframes for leaks. Replace weather stripping, if necessary. Further, examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay. Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity as needed. A little maintenance now can help save on big repairs later! In older homes, with single pane windows, hang insulated curtains or seal the windows with 6 millimeter plastic. Installing storm windows on the outside gives homeowners a more permanent fix. All of these suggestions could help with savings to your cold-weather heating costs.

Heating Systems: Some inspections should be handled by professionals only. The fall is the time when it is a good idea to have your furnace inspected by a qualified HVAC company. It is always a good idea to make sure it is in good running order for the cold weather ahead. Hire an HVAC professional to test for leaks, check heating efficiency, and change the filter. They can also do a carbon monoxide check to ensure air safety.

Hot Water Heater: Hot water heaters require maintenance too. This is the time of the year when homeowners should flush hot water heater tanks to remove sediment. Check the pressure relief valve to make sure it’s in proper working order. Consider an insulated blanket for your hot water heater. Insulated hot water heaters are more energy efficient! If your hot water heater is part of your heating system, this is the time of year to bleed valves on the radiators to increase heating efficiency by releasing air that may be trapped inside from the months of non-use.

Fireplaces & Chimneys: Check your chimney and fireplace before you burn anything in it. It has been several months since it has been used, so make sure they are safe to use this season. If you are doing it yourself, you’ll need to inspect the firebox and flue system to ensure that they’re clean of any soot or creosote and that there aren’t any cracks or voids that could cause a fire hazard. Check your firplace for drafts. It it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may be warped, worn, or rusted. Consider installing a Chimney Balloon into the flue to air seal the area tightly (for your safety, consult a professional before you undertake this option!). Clean out any ash or soot in your fireplace. If you aren’t comfortable doing this yourself, hire a professional. They will be able to inspect and clean it the right way!

Outside Faucets: A big thing that many people forget about is their outside hoses. Be sure to turn off any spigots and remove any hoses from outside your home. Interior pipes close to your outisde walls can burst and then your basement can fill with water. Some older homes even have a shut off valve in the basement that will turn off all your outside water. Depending on your climate, you irrigation system may need to be drained and checked as well. Have a professional perform any necessary repairs and mark sprinkler heads near snow removal areas.

Programmable thermostats: If you have one, program it to make your home more efficient by automatically raising and lowering the temperature as your schedule allows. You can even program it for vacations to be at a low temperature that is still high enough that none of your pipes or windows freeze while you are gone, but return to a warm home.

Ceiling Fans: Make sure fans are switched to the reverse or clockwise position, which will blow warm air down to the floor for enhanced energy efficiency and comfort. During cold spells, keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes, particularly those in the kitchen and bathroom.

Safety First!
Make sure you also test all your home safety devices! Test all your smoke detectors, fire alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors. These are a homeowner’s first line of defense against potentially life-threatening situations! Since you will be spending much more time in the house, you will need to make sure these are all in excellent working order.

Always have a fully-stocked emergency kit at hand. Include batteries, a flashlight, candles, matches, and a lighter; warm clothes and blankets; a battery-powered radio; non-perishable food items and water (two liters per adult per day); a first-aid kit and specialty products like medicine, baby formula and pet food (if necessary). Try to store at least three days worth of supplies for everyone in your household.

--Content used in this post was originally published by Major Restoration Services and is used with their permission.

Posted 2:36 PM

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