Now that the leaves are starting to change and the days are getting cooler, it’s a good time to start preparing your home for winter. Here are some of the preventative steps you can take to keep your home safe, warm, and running more efficiently this winter.
1. Prepare outdoor plumbing
While temperatures are still above freezing, remove your hose and drain it of any water to be stored for winter. If you have a shut off valve for your external faucets, shut off the valve and turn on the outside faucets to drain them of water. Once the faucets are drained, turn off the outdoor faucet and insulate them with a styrofoam kit available from your local hardware store.
2. Insulate pipes
Look over any unheated parts of your home with plumbing, such as your garage or crawl space, for any water supply pipes. If you find any uninsulated lines, add some insulation foam wrap to prevent them from freezing when temperatures drop.
3. Seal gaps around your home
Check around your windows, doors, and where pipes enter your home for gaps. Sealing up any gaps you find will help keep cold air out and warm air in. Fill any gaps less than ¼” with a durable caulk like Hercules Plumbers Caulk, which is UV-resistant, waterproof, and paintable after fully curing. For larger gaps, fill with foam backer rod before caulking.
4. Clean chimney
While sitting by a warm, crackling fire is one of the great joys of winter, chimneys that aren’t regularly maintained can be hazardous. Creosote builds up in your chimney over time with use creating the risk of a chimney fire if not cleared. An easy way to take care of soot and creosote build up is Hercules Flip Stick Soot Destroyer. In addition to fireplaces and wood burning stove, the Flip Stick can also be used to maintain oil, gas, and coal heating units.
5. Descale water heater
Most tankless water heaters benefit from annual maintenance including a descaling and fall is the perfect time to perform this maintenance. During the course of use, water heaters build up scale that affects how efficiently they run. Hercules Haymaker Tankless Water Heater Descaler Kit includes everything you need to easily dissolve any inorganic deposits restricting the flow for your water heater including the solution, pump, hoses, and bucket. Before performing any maintenance on your water heater, we recommend reviewing the manufacturers guidelines.
6. Annual HVAC maintenance
Modern HVAC systems are complicated systems that benefit from an annual tune up from a professional who can help assess what your system needs to run more efficiently and help increase the overall lifespan of your system. However, there are some steps you can take yourself to prepare for fall.
Repace air filters
Replacing the air filters in your furnace will help improve the air quality in your home and improve how the furnace runs. Fall is also a great time for a deep clean to reduce the amount of dirt, dust, and debris getting cycled through the HVAC system.
Anti-freeze in closed loop systems
- Another beneficial step to take in the fall is to check any closed loop systems for antifreeze. Many heating professionals only use water in these closed loop systems so it is recommended you add glycol antifreeze to the system – in case the system stops due to a power outage, this addition will help protect your home. Oatey Cryo-Tek Antifreeze also includes a corrosion inhibitor which will help maintain the pH and prevent scale build-up.
7. Boiler maintenance
Boilers are another system that should be evaluated by a professional annually for optimal performance. Aside from scheduling your annual maintenance, one step you can take to improve the life of your boiler is testing the pH of the liquid in the system with Hercules Cryo-Tek Test Strips. If the pH is not within the correct range, it could lead to corrosion and scale build up that can eventually block the pipe. If you perform this test and find out the pH in the system is off, an easy solution is at your local hardware store to find Hercules Boiler and Heating System Cleaner. Boiler and Heating System Cleaner can reduce scale build up, lubricate pump seals, and free zone valves. You can learn more about the specifics of boiler maintenance in our blog post about extending the life of your boiler here.
Preparing your home before the harsh, cold winter weather arrives will keep you warm, protect your home, and help your home keep running efficiently. While some tasks are best left to professionals, it’s always good to know what those tasks are and what steps you yourself can take to get ready.