Winterizing means a few different things, but when the term is applied to a home, it means that the house has been prepared for cold weather, particularly a house that is going to be left vacant throughout the winter months. It applies to plumbing, utilities, and energy conservation; however, a primary concern of winterization is the lack of heat. A winterized building must be able to withstand extremely cold temperatures. While there are some things you can do yourself, it?s good to get the advice and assistance of an experienced heating and air conditioning company. However, let?s cover some of the basic reasons for winterization, and a few things that can be done in that regard.
One might ask why it is not enough to simply leave the heat system operating at a minimum setting. While it might not be warm enough for living in, it would theoretically be warm enough to prevent the negative results of a frozen house. However, if the electricity stops working, then leaving the home heating system on is pointless. Even a gas furnace needs electricity to work. So while it is smart to leave the heat system operating, other measures should be taken also.
The plumbing aspect of winterization includes emptying the home?s system of all water. Draining the piping, emptying the water heater, and turning off the main water supply, if possible. If it is not possible to completely empty the pipes, fixtures, and appliances of water, it is advised to leave a small but steady trickle of water running at two far ends of piping, to keep the water moving so it is less likely to freeze completely. Wrapping the appliances and pipes with insulation where possible is helpful, too.
Aside from burst pipes which then flood the house upon thawing, extremely cold temperatures affect the structure of the house, the wood trim and furniture, concrete foundations, appliances, and windows. These all provide good reason to leave the heat on while the house is empty, but again, if the heat stops working, there should be other protections in place. The idea is to keep the heat in and the cold out. It protects your home and reduces energy costs.
Replace the weatherstripping around all doors. If you can see light around the edges of your doors, you need new weatherstripping. It costs very little to buy, is easy to install, and can save hundreds in heating and air conditioning costs.
Add caulk around windows. Keep the area around windows air tight. Check for holes and loose corners and refresh the layer of protection. About a quarter of a home?s heat escapes through small cracks and holes.
Service and close the fireplace. Be sure it is clean, safely installed and has no loose or disconnected parts. Be sure the flue closes all the way and that the handle is secure. Cover the front of the fireplace; if it has glass doors, be sure they are tightly closed and latched, and that there are no gaps where air can get in and out., and check whether you can feel air coming in when it’s closed.
Use heavy drapes and rugs. Adding lined curtains can help insulate a room, and if a home has mostly wood, tile, or linoleum floors, especially over a poorly insulated foundation, then thick rugs and carpets can also help.
Take care of your heating system. Keep filters changed, passageways clear and clean, and have it checked or inspected regularly. Contact a heating and air conditioning company to be sure your system is in good working order. Improperly installed equipment decreases heating and cooling efficiency by 30 percent. In addition, most HVAC systems require biannual maintenance inspections, once before summer and once before winter, to ensure they can handle the more extreme temperatures efficiently and without undue stress to the system.
By winterizing your home and maintaining your heating and air conditioning systems, and your plumbing systems, you are ensuring your safety, saving money, and protecting your investment. Consider contacting a local heating and air conditioning company to help do what?s best for your situation this winter. To choose a heating and air conditioning company, ask for referrals and references, but also look for U.S. EPA qualified products as sponsored by the heating contractors.