Staying Warm In The Winter
Welcome to part 4 of 4 on the preparing your home for winter series. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and have gotten your weekend task lists completed.
The mornings are a lot chillier now, and you’re probably thinking about turning on your heater, if you haven’t already. There are some tasks you should do before you really start using your heaters.
Whether you have oil heat or gas heat, remove and replace your filters. You may want to have a service technician out who will replace the filter, make adjustments for the burner, test the regulators, controls, motor and blower. But otherwise, if you still have the manual for the furnace, you can look up the filter size. If you measure it yourself, open up the furnace, and take out the filter. Some will be horizontal, and some will be vertical. Look on the filter itself for markings that indicate the size in inches. If you can’t find it, pull out your measuring tape and measure the width and height including the frame of the filter. Then measure the thickness.
If the filter is missing (and these things just happen sometimes), measure the filter slot. You will also want to know the height, length and width knowing that it may be off a little bit. When you get to your hardware store, let them know, and they’ll be able to help you find a standard sized filter. Remember, it’s better to buy one a little smaller than a little larger.
Change the batteries in your thermostats. Change to winter settings. Clean the registers and returns. Remove the grills and vacuum out as much as you can. Remove any legos or cat toys that might have fallen through. You may want to consider hiring someone to professional clean your ducts if it hasn’t been done in awhile as dust can build up.
Before starting up the fireplace, the flue pipe should be inspected for nests or blockages. Open the damper slowly until you’re certain nothing is going to fall in. Leave the damper open, and using a hair dryer, blast hot air up in the flue line for 2-3 minutes to start an upward draft. Then light a piece of newspaper and hold it up to see if the smoke goes up the flue.
If you haven’t cleaned all of the ash from last season, now is a good time to sweep it up. You can put the ash in your compost bin. If you want to put it directly around your plants, be prepared to dig it into the soil or else you’ll have ash blowing all over your yard causing a mess.
Pellet or Wood Burning Stove
To get your stove ready for winter, remove all ash and creosote from the stove. Test the blowers. You will probably need to vacuum and use a soft brush for both the combustion blower and convection blower on the pellet stove. For both, the vent system should be cleaned by running a brush through it. Inspect for creosote buildup or any wear or corrosion.
For pellet, wood burning stoves, and fireplaces, you may wish to have a chimney sweep come out to get your chimney clean of soot and creosote before the season gets underway especially if you use this as one of your primary sources of heat.
While You’re In There
Since you’re doing the winterizing anyway, here are some other quick maintenance tasks that you may need to do:
Basement sump pump
If you have a basement and a sump pump, verify that it’s operating properly by using a pail of water. Visually inspect and check the valve for leaks. You don’t want to find out that it’s not working when you need it.
Snow blower and shovel
Service and test your snow blower or the snowblower attachment for your lawn tractors. Keep fresh fuel stored in a safe place outside. Replace broken snow shovels, brooms and sidewalk ice scrapers. Also find your snow brush and ice scraper for your car.
Hot Water Heater
You don’t want to be stuck with a cold shower, now do you? Check and lubricate circulating pumps, clean the baseboard units, and test the system.
Yes, believe it or not, you should clean the unit of any leaves and debris. You may want to consider covering it up.
Did you miss any of our others in this series: