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The Wonders of Winterizing and Weatherproofing

Winterizing

Making a habit of a few simple home winterizing and weatherproofing tasks can help to drastically improve energy efficiency, slash heating (and cooling) costs, and defend your family against dangers including fire and carbon monoxide. We've compiled a list of ten simple ways to keep you warm, toasty, and safe when Jack Frost comes-a-calling.

#10 - Keep your ducts in a row

Check your ductwork for holes, loose connections, or other maintenance issues. This is especially important in areas where ductwork goes through walls and meets the floor or ceiling. About 20 percent of the air that should move easily through ductwork can be lost if it not maintained properly. Tighten, tape, or replace broken or worn-out parts as necessary to ensure that your heating system is working as efficiently as possible. It is also important to clean ductwork if it has accumulated mold or large amounts of dirt.

#9 - Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans

When you reverse the direction of your ceiling fans to turn clockwise, they will push warm air downward and help to distribute heat more uniformly. This saves your heater from the stress of working overtime to keep your home warm and toasty. You can change the fan's rotation direction by simply sliding the switch on the body of the fan in the opposite direction. (This usually located near the chain pull that that is used to turn the unit on.)

#8 - Clean out gutter crud

Use a shovel, hose, or broom (depending on the level of debris accumulation) to remove the gunk that has collected in the gutter over the past year. Gutter clutter can contribute to roof rot, and in excess amounts, it can place unwanted stress on the roof. Overflow caused by gunked-up gutters can also cause water to run down the sides of your home in unwanted places, leading to discoloration, deterioration, and leaks.

#7 - Dodge the drafts

Gaps in doors and window frames let cold air in, give warm air a way to escape, and can seriously jack up home heating bills. One way to discover problem areas is to feel for them with your hand, but you can also scan for them visually when it is dark on one side of the door/window and light on the other. Install weather stripping around windows and entry doors, and replace weather stripping which is worn out or cracked. Low expansion spray foam insulation can also be used to fill in cracks and leaks, and keep out unwanted cold.

#6 - Be a detector detective

Undetected problems with heating sources such as your furnace or fireplace can emit killer carbon monoxide. Test both carbon monoxide and smoke detectors regularly to make sure that they are functioning properly to avoid a potentially deadly situation.

#5 - Get a flue shot

Regular chimneys cleanings are an easy way to avoid a number of serious problems. A dirty chimney can cause choking smoke to fall back down into the home, bringing deadly carbon monoxide with it. A creosote-free chimney is also super-important when it comes to avoiding chimney fires. If you are the DIY type, a chimney cleaning brush and rods will cost you somewhere in the $100-$150 range. If you're not so handy, expect to pay a sweep that amount each year to keep things creosote free.

#4 - Fling old furnace filters

When the cold sets in, it is important to clean your furnace filters monthly. Dirty filters lead to restricted airflow, resulting in increased energy demand and higher heating costs. You can achieve greater efficiency and higher energy savings by changing from disposables to a permanent filter. Electrostatic and genuine HEPA versions do a much better job of trapping airborne particles than disposable filters, and drastically reduce the presence of irritants and allergens such as mold, pollen, and bacteria.

#3 - Do the water heater wrap

Water heaters come with varying amounts of built in insulation (indicated by their R-value). Insulating your water heater can prevent as much as 45 percent of heat from being lost, and add up to energy savings of nearly 10 percent. If surface of the unit feels warm to the touch, a water heater wrap can help to reduce heat loss. Wrap kits generally come with the materials required to complete the insulation process, and are easy enough to install on your own if you read the directions carefully.

#2 - "Shrink wrap" your windows

Window surfaces (especially large ones) can allow substantial heat loss. You can help to reduce and prevent it by using easy-to-apply plastic sheeting. For just a few dollars, you can obtain a multi-window film kit that lets you to add an extra buffer against the cold. The only real "tool" you will need is a hair dryer to shrink wrap the film to your window surface. Even more efficient versions can be applied (for a price) by weatherproofing pros.

#1 - Have pipe dreams

Insulating your pipes can prevent them from freezing and (even worse) bursting. This can be done more easily than ever before by using insulating tape, fiberglass insulation, or foam insulating sleeves. Pipes running through unheated spaces or exposed to outdoor temperatures are those most prone to freeing, and need protection to keep them from creating an expensive mess. While insulating pipes is not a 100 percent guarantee that they will not freeze when the temperatures drop, they definitely slow down the freezing process. Another way to prevent frozen-pipe disasters is to install electrical pipe heating cable. For safety's sake, make sure to use only use approved heating products to reduce the risk of fire.

Posted by: Ahmed Muztaba
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