Cooler weather has rolled into the Lowcountry along with the upcoming holidays this year. While we appreciate a little briskness, there are some things to be cautioned of in preparation for the cold. Follow these five steps to ensure your family’s safety this holiday season, all while keeping them warm and snug.
Check the Heat
Ideally, the time to check your furnace is before the cold weather hits. Turning on the heat and blower to be sure they are operating correctly will help once the weather cools down. Remember, you should always change your furnace filter at the start of the winter season, and then every two to four months. Depending on your individual needs, filters tend to get dirty more quickly if your home is dusty or you have pets. Clogged or dirty filters not only cause the heat to work less efficiently, but they also hinder the heater from warming your house properly.
Although most people think your ceiling fans should just be used for summer, they can also help to circulate the warm air from the ceiling down into the room.
Protect Your Pipes
When water freezes, it expands. This can cause your pipes to crack and burst when the temperatures drop. This can also happen when pressure builds up behind a chunk of ice. To remedy this, leave your faucets dripping in extremely cold weather; this will prevent it from freezing too quickly. A few other ways to avoid busted pipes in cold weather are:
- Protect your pipes that run through unheated areas of your home (attic, basement, garage, etc.).
- Drain water from outdoor sprinkler systems and faucets to keep them from freezing.
- Disconnect and store outdoor hoses.
- Cover outdoor faucets with foam insulators.
It’s a good idea to know in advance where your water shutoff valve is so that you can quickly turn it off, if necessary. Usually, they are located in a basement of buried near the road by your home.
Clean and Store Lawn Equipment
One perk about wintertime is there usually is less yard work to do. Gas-powered equipment such as lawnmowers, weed trimmers, chippers, etc. should be stored for the winter months and kept out of the cold. To keep the fuel lines from being damaged due to lack of use, you should always empty each piece of equipment of fuel at the start of the season. Try to use it all, or check with your local waste management company for tips on how best to dispose of leftover gas.
Once all of your equipment is ready to be stored, you can keep them in your basement, garage, shed, etc. where they will be safe from the elements.
Examine Your Fireplace and Chimney
Before you light your first fire of the season, be sure to clean out your fireplace and chimney, making sure they are clear and free from any critters. It’s also not a bad idea to hire a professional chimney sweep to clean out old leftover soot and debris to protect it from catching fire.
Once clean, make sure you are keeping the flue closed all the way to keep all the warm air from the fire inside. There shouldn’t be any cold air coming down through the chimney. You can also install glass fireplace doors to keep all the cold air out.
Reseal Your Windows and Doors
Seals around your doors and windows are imperative to keeping your home warm during the winter months. Gaps around these openings can make it tough to keep the cold air out, and the warm air in. You can use caulk and weather stripping to reseal these areas, which is both inexpensive and efficient, saving you on higher heat costs.
If you have older doors and windows, consider replacing them to fully reap the benefits from your heater. This will automatically create better insulation and create a more energy-efficient home.