By Don Segavac
With days getting shorter and the nights getting colder winter is upon us in West Michigan. So here are a few ideas for winterizing your home. The most important thing you can do is disconnect your hoses from your outdoor faucets. This will help keep your pipes from freezing. Most modern homes have frost- proof faucets, the water actually shuts off between 12 and 16 inches from the outside wall. Old homes have shut-offs in the same location, you turn them off inside and open the outside to drain the water out.
If you leave your hoses connected you still have water in that 12 inch area and it can freeze and burst your pipes. The next thing you want to do is make sure your gutters are clean of leaves and debris. They need to work properly and get the water away from the house. Gutters full of water weighs a lot and can cause them to loosen and even fall off. Next look from areas where cold air can get in, when it’s dark out turn off your lights and have someone shine a flashlight around your exterior doors. If you see light you need to fix or replace your weather stripping. The most common place is at the bottom of the latch side of the door. You can move the weather stripping closer to the door using a small piece of cardboard as a shim. If you have cold air leaking in around your windows, a shrink wrap insulation kit is an inexpensive way to solve this problem.
Check your attic, you should have at least 12 inches of insulation. If not, blow some in, most lumber yards and big box stores will loan you a blower if you buy enough insulation or you can roll batting type insulation. Be sure to wear the proper protective gear. If you have an emergency generator get it out and fire it up. Make sure it is working and keep some spare gas around. Now that you are using your furnace put fresh batteries in your thermostat– if it uses them– and in your smoke alarms. Change your furnace filter often it does make a difference.
If you have central air conditioning you should cover your compressor with a piece of plywood slightly larger than the unit itself. Use bungee cords to hold it in place. This will protect it from falling icicles and snow. Never wrap it in plastic or use a trap, this will trap moisture and could cause premature failure due to rusting, this unit needs to breathe year round. Make sure you have flash lights and emergency candles on hand. A deck of cards is cheap entrainment when the power is out.
I look forward to sharing more helpful hints on taking care of your home in the weeks to come.