Cold weather has arrived in Kansas City and it is time to prepare for home for the cold winter months ahead. Set your home up for success by checking these items off your to-do list.
Clean gutters and downspouts
Gutters can be overtaken with leaves, causing trouble when it rains or snows. With nowhere to go, rain water can find its way into your home through small cracks in the exterior walls or roof. Clear out your gutters and the areas surrounding downspouts. This will keep water flowing away from your home.
The transition from fall to winter was quick this year, and there wasn't much time to rake the last leaves before the snow came. If leaves stay on the ground with snow piled on top, the grass underneath can die. Rake leaves up so the snow can soak into the soil below.
Seal gaps where critters could enter
Everyone wants to find a warm place to spend the winter, even petty rodents. You don't want your home to become a haven for rodents, who can sneak in through small cracks and holes. Walk around the exterior of your home to check for gaps near the foundation where small critters could make their way in. Fill in these gaps with spray foam, steel wool, or call an exterminator.
Check walkways, railings, stairs, and driveway for winter safety
Hazards like cracks and loose railings may have developed in the summer months. Check your walkways, railings, stairs, and driveways for any potential hazards.
Schedule a duct cleaning
While often forgotten about, air ducts are an essential part of efficient and healthy air flow. They are the passageway for conditioned air to enter your home. Dirty ducts can mean dirty air. Grimy air ducts can contribute to poor air quality and respiratory issues. Since you will be spending significantly more time inside, the quality of your home's air is vital. Click here to learn more about the benefits of duct cleaning.
Shut off exterior faucets and store hoses
Winterizing your exterior water sources is an easy task to forget. Put it on your do to list this weekend to prevent damage to your pipes and hose. If a hose is left outside, water trapped inside can expand and cause holes and cracks. If the garden hose is connected to a water line, it can cause damage to the water pressure and water lines throughout your home. You can read more about how to prevent this here. Drain sprinkler systems and turn off water access to outdoor nozzles. As an extra safety measure, wrap outdoor faucets with a sock or towel to prevent potential damage caused by freezing temperatures.
Schedule a system maintenance
Maintenance check-ups are vital to the health of your system. Scheduled maintenances improve the performance, efficiency, and longevity of your heating and cooling systems by preventing any problems to fester. Below are four of the many benefits to scheduling a system maintenance:
LOWER ENERGY BILLS
- The cleaner your system, the less it has to work. By removing grime built up in your unit, your system is free to work the way it was designed to. This will save you money on your monthly energy bills and guarantee a long life for your system.
EXTEND THE LIFE OF YOUR UNIT
- Preventative maintenance finds problems at the beginning, before they become big. Routine check-ups keep the system running as it should, and you can expect it to have a longer life.
- Nothing is more important to us than your safety. During each inspection, our technicians thoroughly check all potential problems, like a potential carbon monoxide leak.
PREVENT REPAIRS AND MAJOR BREAKDOWNS
- As with any large machine, parts may wear out from time to time. Giving your furnace and AC a tune-up can save you from breakdowns when extreme temperatures test its abilities. We check everything from dirty coils to motor voltage to make sure there aren’t any impending problems. Often, we can find a problem and make the repair before you even experience any discomfort.
- Check safety devices A change in seasons can increase hazards. Check your thermostat, smoke, and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working well. Replace the batteries so they won't need to be replaced before Spring. Nest products are a great way to ensure your safety devices are working properly, and you can access them all from your phone.
Most homes have cold spots where cold air and winds sneak through. Weatherstripping is a simple yet efficient way to keep the cold air out and the warm air in, and can save you up to fifteen percent on your energy bills. Energy.gov has an informative chart to decide which type of material is best to use. First, detect air leaks by inspecting all areas where two materials meet.
- exterior corners
- outdoor water faucets
- meeting point of the foundation and siding
- electrical outlets
- switch plates
- door and window frames
- attic entrances
- dryer vents
Install a humidifier
Many homes have humidity levels under 20 percent during KC winters, and that is just too dry for people, pets, plants, and woodwork. A whole-home humidifier can give you just the right amount of moisture to keep you healthy and comfortable. Dry air just doesn’t feel as warm as air with some humidity in it. If you have very low humidity, your home will feel several degrees cooler than the temperature you have chosen on your thermostat. Increasing the relative humidity instantly helps your home feel warmer without even turning up the heat. This can mean significant energy savings for you. Want to learn more? Here are 8 ways a humidifier will improve your life:
- Dry, winter air dries out your sinuses, lowering your resistance to viruses and germs and causing mucus to become thick and dry. Your nose is working hard to warm the air before it passes into your respiratory system. Using a humidifier helps your nose do its job, passing moist air through your system. Humidified air will keep allergies, congestion, and colds away.
- As the humidifiers clear your system of congestion, your body becomes stronger and more capable of fighting allergies. Dry air irritants are weakened with moisture, making the air in your home less susceptible to allergens.
- High humidity levels can dramatically lower the risk of contracting viruses. Humidity kills virus particles, while dry air harbors and transports them. To create a healthy and virus-free home during the winter, install a humidifier.
- House plants have proven to detoxify indoor air as well as increase happiness in the winter months. But plants need water to survive--both from the soil and from the air. If the air is too dry, plants will dry out and wilt, (just like our skin and hair). Plants prefer a humidity level of 40%, which can only be achieved year-round through a humidifier.
SAVE MONEY ON ENERGY BILLS
- Humidity makes the air in your home feel warmer. If your home has low humidity, 70 can feel like 65. Adding humidity to your air allows you to keep the thermostat on a lower setting without compromising your comfort.
PROTECT HARDWOOD FLOORS AND WOOD FURNITURE
- Wood expands and contracts with temperature and moisture, so it's no surprise wood cracks during the cold, dry, winter months. Have you noticed cracks on furniture or creaky floorboards? This is due to a lack of moisture in the air. By adding humidity, woodwork and hardwood floors will last much longer.
- Installing a humidifier not only creates a warm, comfortable environment--it also reduces snoring. Snoring is louder and more frequent when the air is dry; a moist environment can reduce snoring symptoms. Raising humidity levels in your home can also reduce the risk of scratchy throats, headaches, and dry noses, helping you sleep sounder.
PREVENT DRY SKIN
- Have you noticed your skin cracking or increased dandruff? Skin relies on moisture to stay flexible and healthy. A humidifier will keep your skin soft and healthy, and can counteract signs of aging.
We hope you have a safe and warm holiday season! For assistance with any of the jobs above, call a service technician at A.B. May.