If you asked someone to choose between summer and winter, chances are they’d pick summer. It’s not entirely that summer is so much greater than winter; rather, a great deal of that choice is informed by winter’s harshness. The cold temperatures and low humidity lead to chapped lips, dried skin, windburns, and much more.
Of course, the people who prefer winter over summer swear by the comfort of staying warm on a cold day. However, if you want to enjoy the winters by being as comfortable as possible, you need to prepare. This entails getting your winter clothes out (or buying new ones), changing your skincare routine for the low humidity, and more. Of all these preparatory steps, the most important is winterproofing your home. Here’s how to go about doing just that.
Get Your Heating System Checked
Getting comfortable in the winters is all about keeping yourself warm. Your heating system is a, if not the most important, pillar that supports that comfort. An HVAC system typically lasts between 12 and 15 years. This is an average, and it depends on how well the system is maintained. A well-maintained system can perform well up to 20 years, while an ill-maintained system can fail in 10.
Being proactive about getting your HVAC system checked is crucial to a tolerable and comfortable winter. The last thing you want is to find yourself on a cold day with a malfunctioning furnace. Contract a reliable HVAC technician to examine your HVAC system for potential faults. Not only will this keep you warm, but it will also keep you safe, as faulty HVAC systems can lead to carbon monoxide buildup.
Chimney and Vent Cleaning
Continuing from the previous HVAC system maintenance recommendations, you should also get your vents and chimneys cleaned. Inspections don’t necessarily include cleaning, and even if the inspector doesn’t think cleaning is necessary, it’s better to be safe. Cleaning the vents will make sure carbon monoxide and other toxic gases are efficiently moved out of your home. Clean chimneys will prevent chimney fires and make sure there’s no gas buildup.
You’re going to be using your fireplace for warmth and comfort throughout the winter, so cleaning chimneys is imperative. Additionally, you should stock up on fresh firewood for the fireplace. Rotten wood is moist and effectively a wooden sponge. When wet wood is burned, it’ll create a lot of smoke and lead to creosote buildup in your chimneys. Creosote is extremely combustible, so it ups the risk of chimney fires.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Even after cleaning your fireplace and getting your HVAC system maintained, there’s room for error. Maybe you accidentally burn rotten wood among your regular firewood, which leads to creosote buildup. Alternatively, perhaps part of the HVAC system malfunctions or the repairers miss a leak or gap in the vents.
The above possibilities raise many issues, but the most significant ones are carbon monoxide buildup and fires. Creosote can lead to chimney fires, which can quickly spread. Your HVAC system is responsible for guiding carbon monoxide out of your house, so a leak means it can spread throughout your home.
Both of these contingencies can be disastrous for your property and possibly fatal for the residents. So, it’s wise to get your smoke detectors checked and install carbon monoxide detectors if you don’t have any. While this doesn’t directly winterproof your home, it does bolster your home against risks it faces in the winters.
Gutters, Insulation, and Preventing Ice Dams
Icicles and ice dams can lead to a lot of water damage in your home. Icicles hang from the edge of the roof, while ice dams are formed on the roof’s edge. As the latter’s name suggests, ice dams prevent meltwater from flowing off the roof. As the water begins to accumulate behind the dam, it can seep into your home. This leads to damage, such as weakened shingles and the spread of moss, mold, and mildew.
Inadequate insulation is one of the causes of ice dams. Another cause is clogged gutters. If a gutter is full of debris, water can’t properly drain from your roof. As a result, it’ll begin to build up, which will lead to the aforementioned issues. It’ll also lead to the formation of ice dams, as water can’t properly drain. Add since ice dams are forming more readily, worsening insulation and other problems will grow quickly.
Cleaning your gutters and getting your insulation improved will significantly reduce the formation of ice dams. To further improve drainage, you can add extensions to your gutters so that the water runs off away from your home’s foundation.
Caulking and Sealing
Doors and windows are some of the more apparent ways heat can escape your home. However, closing the windows and doors typically won’t be enough to keep your heat loss to a minimum. You should inspect your door and window frames (and their joints) and see if there are gaps between them and the siding.
A small gap is fine (about the width of a nickel). However, if the gap is larger, you need to caulk the gaps (sealing the gaps with caulk, a waterproof filler used to make something watertight).
Door and Window Replacement
Sealing windows and doors isn’t necessarily enough to keep heat in your home. Wear-and-tear is an inescapable fact of life, and it affects your doors and windows too. Both can be worn out by the elements and insects, but that alone doesn’t warrant replacement.
However, winter can be harsh, winds and blizzards in particular. Weaker windows and doors may not be able to withstand that force, so it’s a good idea to get them replaced if you suspect wear-and-tear.