Winterizing Your House
Many people think winterizing their home is optional, or they simply don’t know how to do it. However, there are several things you should do to protect your home and save money on your energy bill during the winter.
The first thing you should do is change your furnace filter. This can be done all year round, about every three months or so, but it’s especially important in the late fall. A clean filter will optimize your furnace’s efficiency and ensure good air quality in your home during the winter months. You should call a professional to tune up your furnace.
With a few simple steps, you can winterize your air conditioning unit. Keep in mind they were meant to be stored outdoors, so snow, rain, and cold will not damage it. First, shut off the circuit--a metal lid by the outdoor system has an on/off switch. Next, wash the cover on a warm, dry day. Then cover the unit and any exposed pipes.
Next, you should prepare your water lines. Drain and stow away hoses, and turn off exterior water spigots. Many spigots have a shutoff valve inside the home. If you can, turn the water off from inside of your home.
Check around your doors and windows for drafts, and use a rolled up towel to block any. Install storm doors and windows if needed.
Another thing you should do is check your insulation and add more if it’s insufficient. As a rule of thumb, attics should be insulated with an R-value of 38, or 10 to 14 inches and walls should have 16-24 inches. Inspect your current insulation to make sure it is not severely torn, cracked, or porous. (If it is, you should replace that section). If you have a fireplace, clean out all the soot and debris, and check to make sure the chimney is clear. Finally, be sure to clear out all of your gutters on your home and garage to avoid ice dams (pieces of ice that build up in them during winter and prevent water drainage).
Finally, you should invest in a home standby generator. This is important so that if the power goes out in winter, your home and pipes stay warm.
Winterizing Your Garden
Winterizing your home doesn’t end with your four walls. If you have a garden, you should prepare it for winter so that opening it up next spring is a breeze.
First, cut away dead stalks or branches. Next, pull out weeds and any other invasive species plants.
If you have bulbs, you need to bring them inside. Bulbs are more sensitive to cold temperatures than other plants and cannot survive in winter. To enjoy blooms that make a grand return every year, they need special care. Dig them up, dry them with newspaper for a few weeks, and store them in an airtight container with sawdust.
Fall is a great time to spread mulch throughout your garden, so you should do so. A healthy layer of woody mulch will help to keep the soil warm and protect plants during the coldest winter temperatures. Organic mulch provides food for worms and microbes that keep the oil in good condition. If you have evergreens in your garden or anywhere in your yard, you should deep soak them so they stay healthy in winter. Finally, wrap the bark of any young trees in tape to stabilize them in cold temperatures. You should use garden tape, which is made with adhesive cotton and can be found at your local lawn and garden store.
Winterizing Your Pool
In the winter, your pool serves as nothing more than a big ol’ tub, which will freeze. It’s important to take the proper steps to winterize your pool, if you have one.
The first thing you should do is check and balance the chemical levels. According to poolsupplyworld.com, the levels should be a pH of 7.2 – 7.8, alkalinity of 80-120ppm, and chlorine level of 2-3ppm., You can also add a winterizing algaecide to keep the pool clean when you’re not using it.
It’s also important to winterize any plumbing to and from the pool and filter. With an above-ground pool, you may simply need to clean and remove the filter. With an in-ground pool, there are pipes to winterize. You need to blow out water from the pipes with air to keep them from freezing and cracking. To do this, you need a portable blower. Attach your blower hose into the skimmer, close suction values, and turn out your blower. Let it run until only droplets are spraying out.
Next, clean the pool walls, water surface, and filter. For an above ground pool, drain it to just under halfway down. (You do not need to drain an in-ground pool.) For above ground pools use an air pillow to lower the pressure of freezing ice (use water tubes for in-ground pools).
Finally, take out the ladder and cover the pool.