As the fall temperatures turn colder, most Boston homeowners are thinking about winterizing their homes. This post has a few tips for helping to reduce heating costs by winterizing your Boston home. In future posts, I’ll help you winterize a home that is (or will be) vacant during the winter months.
The first step in getting your home ready for the winter is to take a good look at it, from both the inside and the outside. From the outside, you want to spot areas where cold air, snow, ice or water can enter your home. Damaged vents, cracked windows or windows that don’t fit well in their frames, leaks or holes in the roof can all cause your heating system to work harder than it needs to. Fix any damaged vents, but don’t cover them completely. The purpose of the vent is to remove moisture from your home. Sealing a vent will trap moisture in your home and cause mold and other air quality problems in your living space.
Check the vent stacks that exit your home through the roof or walls. Make sure the vent lines for your plumbing and heating systems are open and completely free of debris. High-efficiency heating units rely on outdoor ventilation to operate properly. Some vent stacks have mesh caps that prevent small animals, and debris from accumulating in the vent stack. If you have stack covers, make sure they’re in good shape.
As long as you have the ladder out, clear out the gutters and downspouts. This will help melting snow drain away from your home’s roof and foundation, and can help prevent leaks, ice damming and other water problems throughout the winter. It will also discourage the collection of moisture in or near the foundation of your home, which can lengthen the life of your heating and cooling equipment, your plumbing and your water heater.
If you have a central air conditioner unit, remove any leaves or other organic debris around the unit. Most central A/C units are designed to stand up to the cold weather, but keeping debris and drain lines clear can never hurt. If you have window air conditioners, remove them if you can. You can purchase covers for the units to keep snow and ice out, but for the sake of energy efficiency, the units should be removed, cleaned and stored for the winter.
Winterize your outdoor faucets. To do this, close the shutoff valve, usually located inside the home, near the spot where the faucet line exits the home. Disconnect the hose, if one is attached. Drain the hose and stow it away for the winter. Open the faucet valve from the outside and let any remaining water drain away. If the faucet handle is detachable, you may want to remove the key and store this for the winter, too. If you have a water supply line for an outdoor pool, shut this off at the valve and drain it by opening the faucet to let standing water escape.
If you have underground sprinklers, shut the water off at the inside valve and drain the system. You may have to blow air through the system to remove the water and dry the lines out. Do not leave standing water in your sprinkler system over the winter. You can damage the lines and heads if you do.
If you have storm drains on your property, keep them free of leaves and other organic matter that may accumulate in the fall. This will help melting snow drain away when the weather warms.
In the next post, I’ll give some suggestions for winterizing the inside of your home. In the mean time, if you have any questions or concerns about your plumbing, or need repair work done in advance of the colder weather, please contact us at (617) 288-2911.