It may not feel like it here in southern California, but winter is on the way, and that means that if you are a homeowner then in order to keep yourself and your family safe, and prevent potential high utility and/or repair bills, you need to check a few things before colder weather sets in.
1. Furnace evaluation – it is important to have your furnace checked to make sure there are no cracks or other problems, especially if it is more than 15 years old. Most utility companies will schedule a free visit to evaluate your system. If any problems are found you can contact a licensed HVAC company to make necessary repairs.
2. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors – since you may be using your heater this winter is it imperative that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Batteries should be changed twice a year to stay safe, so now is a great time to do so.
3. Rain gutters – this is the time to have rain gutters cleaned out and evaluated for proper functioning.
4. Drains – Drainage should also be checked to make sure they are working properly and there are no clogs. You can do a simple test with your garden hose, by running water into the drain and making sure it goes where it needs to go (most drains in my area drain to the street in front of the homes, so it is easy to check).
5. Seal your windows, doors, and vents – check all your windows for drafts and seal any discovered cracks or openings where air can get in (in most cases caulk will work, but there are other products that expand – ask your local home improvement store for the best ideas in your area). The same thing goes for appliances that vent to the outside, like from your clothes dryer or microwave oven. Any air that can get into your home makes it more expensive to keep the temperature comfortable, so proper insulation and air sealing is a must.
6. Close the air gaps in water and waste pipes – Some reports I read stated that all homes have air gaps in piping systems, and that it wastes money every year. There are products you can purchase that will form air-tight water resistant seals to keep out the air.
7. Watch for spiders inside – if you see many spiders in your home that could be an indication that there are gaps in your house – find the source(s) and seal it(them).
8. Winterize your pantry – make sure your pantry is stocked with non-perishable food items and lots of bottled water, in case you are trapped at home due to bad weather. Now is the time to stock up on items like soups, canned vegetables and other ready-to-eat items that can get you through a spell of bad weather or lack of electricity. You also want to make sure you have first aid kits, emergency candles and flashlights, and that you know how to turn off your water main and electric panel.
9. Wash, dry and cover your patio furniture – this will preserve the life of your items.
10. Inspect your fireplace and chimney – make sure your fireplace is in good working order and the flue is functioning and clean, same for the chimney. Calling out a professional is a good idea.
11. Switch fans to reverse (clockwise) position – as soon as the temperatures start to dip, make sure to switch your house fans to the clockwise mode – this insures heat will be circulated evenly and blown down.
12. Check your roof for leaks and broken tiles – replace or repair if necessary.