With a brief respite in our weather you still have time to do that pesky pre-winter maintenance that you may missed. But the clock is ticking so get with it!!
Disclaimer: This list is not intended to be all inclusive nor will the suggestions apply to all circumstances or home types. Seeking the advice and assistance of licensed contractors should be a consideration before attempting any maintenance or repairs that you are not prepared or qualified to perform
Winterize your Heating System
Thinking about the arctic blast that is just over the horizon you know your heating system is perhaps the most critical element for a home in winter, and while the ideal time to check your furnace and other heating appliances is in the fall—no later than the end of October, it’s not too late to gettr’ done
Heating System Checklist
Test run: Turn the thermostat to heat mode and set it to 80 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 not running properly, you can try to diagnose it yourself.
Replace the air filter: Put in a new, clean air filter. 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. Have an HVAC contractor check for carbon monoxide leaks. If they discover problems, you can act now to 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. Do not put this work off; a CO leak is a very dangerous situation. Oh, and make sure you test your CO detectors for proper operation. Remember that CO detectors like Smoke Detectors have a shelf life and need periodic replacement (not just the batteries) Have a the exhaust vents checked for proper operation too: Some furnaces and boilers, 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 has not 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.
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.
Winterize the Air Conditioning System
While you might need this for several months this is the time to give your unit a visual inspection and take care of some basic maintenance. On your central air conditioner, you can clean the condensing unit of debris: Using a hose with the spray-head set to the highest pressure, clean the fan blades and condensing coils clear of debris and dirt. Let the unit dry completely before covering it for the season.
Cover the condensing unit: Left unprotected, the condensing unit can be damaged by wet leaves and debris that contribute to rusting and freezing of internal components. Although these units are designed for outdoor use, covering them with a breathable waterproof cover made for that purpose goes a long way to extending the life and efficient performance of the unit.(BE SURE TO TURN OFF THE POWER BEFORE SERVICING ANY APPLIANCE) If you’re uncomfortable your local HVAC contractor can take care of it.
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 cannot be removed, then close the vents and make sure to get an air conditioning cover like the condensing unit cover described above.
AS A GENERAL RULE YOU SHOUL DNOT RUN AIR CONDITIONING EQUIPMENT WHEN THE AIR TEMPERATURE IS BELOW 70 degrees Fahrenheit
Inspect the Fireplace, Chimney, and Flue
Although largely ignored in warm weather, your fireplace (regardless of fuel type) and chimney can be a major source of cold air leaks and other issues in winter. So, the chimney and fireplace need some inspection and service before winter sets in.
Clear obstructions. Check to make sure the chimney is clear of any nests from birds, squirrels or other small animals. Check the damper. Make sure it opens and closes fully, and that it is can be locked in the open or closed position. Check the chimney draft. Make sure the chimney will draw up the fire and smoke properly. Test this by taking several sheets of newspaper and rolling them up. Then with the fireplace damper in the open position, light the newspaper in the fireplace. The smoke should rise up the chimney. If it doesn’t, you have an obstruction and need to call a professional in to clean the chimney of creosote and ash and possible debris.
Have the chimney cleaned. If it has been several years (or never) since you had your fireplace chimney cleaned, have it done by a professional chimney sweep. This is not a pleasant DIY project, and professional cleaning is not very expensive.
Inspect the firebrick in the fireplace. If you see any open mortar joints, have them repaired immediately. A fire can spread into the stud wall behind the masonry firebrick through open mortar joints.
Winterize Exterior Water Pipes
Exterior faucets: Known as hose bibbs or sill-cocks, the exterior faucets need to have their water supply turned off inside the house, and you also need to drain water from them by opening up the exterior faucets. You may also want to consider an insulated cover for the hose bibb. And remember to disconnect your garden hoses from the sillcocks or outside faucets and drain them.
Winterize Sprinkler Systems
The sprinkler system should not be overlooked when preparing your home for winter. Have your sprinkler system winterized no later than the end of October. If you have a lawn service that handles this, have them come to drain and winterize the irrigation system. Winterizing a sprinkler system can be a DIY project but you will need to understand the workings of your system to get each zone properly drained for the winter
Inspect the outside moldings around windows for damaged or missing caulking. Use a good-quality exterior caulk to seal any gaps you find around window moldings. Inspect window tracks and clean them of any debris that might be interfering with seals.
Inspect the locking mechanisms on all windows work adequately. You will want to lock them securely once winter sets in.
Check for air leaks. On a day when it is windy outside, close your windows and feel for air leaks. Typically, air leaks will be found at the edges where the window is hinged, slides, or meets another unit—such as between the two panels of a double-hung window.
Although you can tape plastic over the windows to seal them, this can be expensive and be rather unattractive. It can also reduce much-needed natural sunlight in the winter unless you use the shrink-wrap type of plastic seal.
Inspect caulking around the outside moldings of door frames, and add new exterior-grade caulking, if necessary. Inspect and replace any failed weather stripping around doors, including the door sweep attached to the bottom of the door.
Inspect the Roof
Moving to the outside of the home, you should do a quick check of the roof. Either hire someone to inspect the roof if you are not comfortable doing this yourself. Wet or frosty roofs can be very slippery. (I do not like heights, so I would be calling a contractor)
Check the roof for missing or damaged shingles and have them replaced. Check flashings around chimneys and other roof projections, which are often the source of leaks. Have repairs made, if necessary. Make sure gutters and downspouts are clean, with no leaves or debris clogging them. Wet leaves remaining in the gutters over winter add significant weight and volume to the gutter when frozen, increasing the risk of damage. Make sure downspouts are solidly attached. There is nothing like having the joy of the spring thaw ruined by water running out your ceiling fixtures. YIKES!!
Landscape and Store Outdoor Accessories
Is your yard prepared for winter? Your yard and shrubs will need a bit of prep to help them winter well and provide the beauty you expect come spring. The same is true for your lawn furniture and miscellaneous yard accessories. An inexpensive cover can extend the life years. Be sure to, cover patio furniture or bring it indoors to store for the winter.
Seal or stain a wooden deck if it needs it before winter. A properly sealed deck will be more resistance to winter damage.
Clean and seal any concrete or brick paver surfaces, as needed. Now is a good time to patch any cracks or damage to concrete steps or walkways.
And don’t forget your power equipment. A fuel stabilizer can really make a difference next season. Follow the manufacturer’s directions and you should be set.
Ok it’s time to go.