Winterizing

Winterizing Your House: The Five Parts You Should Focus On

There is no better way to prepare for the coming cold season other than winterizing your house. It would spare you from high heating expenses, equipment repair, and, of course, chilly nights and days. Start prepping up your abode during the fall, just before the temperature hits below the freezing point.

Here are five parts of your house you should inspect. You can manage some of the tasks all on your own, although in some cases you need to have professional assistance.

1. Fireplace. Your fireplace is one part of the house that can help you get through all winter, so get it ready very early on. Start with the chimney. You can have a certified chimney sweep to do an inspection and remove anything that might have been trapped in the chimney, usually balls, birds, and the likes. To prevent any foreign object getting into the chimney, you can protect it with a cap or screen. The woodstove should also be thoroughly cleaned of creosote and, as advised by experts, have glass doors that must be kept closed when the stove is not in use. Inspect the fireplace damper as well and, like the woodstove, it should be closed when not in use. Then, start collecting firewood and store them in a secure, dry place.

2. Furnace. Inspection and cleaning of furnace requires professional assistance, which will cost about $100. Replace furnace filters monthly or at least after every six months. An old and dirty filter obstructs airflow, inevitably affecting its performance. Although it is rare, it can also cause fire. Also, consider the possibility of buying a new furnace if it is quite old, say more than 10 years old, and in need of constant repair. Remember, an inefficient and malfunctioning furnace pumps up the heating costs.

3. Door. You wouldn’t want cold air to come gushing from your door, so winterize your door by sealing any crack and installing weatherstripping on the sides and top of the door and door sweep on its bottom.

4. Roof. Inspect if the roof misses a tile, shingle, or nail; has the flashings and metal plates damaged; needs caulking; or is generally in bad shape. If it is, you need to have someone fix the roof and replace any worn-out parts. If there is one thing that will protect the whole house from winter, it is your roof, so make sure it can stand the whole season.

5. Gutters. Your first concern is to check if the gutters are securely and firmly fastened to the roof. If they are not, immediately call for a roofing professional to fix the problem. Then, clean the gutters and remove leaves and other debris that have fallen into the gutters. Hose them down if necessary. Check if the gutters have leaks and if the downspouts are efficiently driving water away.

These are only five parts of the house, but there are other parts that you should look into when winterizing your house. Remember, the house should be prepared inside and out, so check every nook and cranny.

Winterizing Your Home

Preparing your home for the winter is essential. Aside from living comfortably during the harsh temperature, winterizing would also help in extending the life of your home and avoid problems in the future.

Preparing your home for the winter can be done by professional plumber, electrician or contractor. However, there are also other things that you could do on your own. How do you prepare your home for the winter? Here are some things that you could keep in mind.

• Check and clean you gutters. Remove the leaves, twigs and other branches that may be blocking your gutter. You could clean them by hand or by a scraper. This can clog the drains which would later cause the water to back up and freeze in the gutter. This would eventually seep into the walls of the house. Make sure that your gutters do not have cracks and the pipes are properly aligned.

• Work on those cracks and leaks. Look for those leaks and cracks in your home and block them. According to the EarthWorks Group, an average American would have leaks that amount to a nine-square-feet hole in the wall. Cold air could slip inside your home and hot air to escape. This would add up to bigger fuel cost.

• Turn on your furnace to check if it is working even if the coldest weather has not yet arrived. Furnaces should be cleaned and maintained once a year. You could get a professional to check the furnace. Change the filters monthly since dirty filters could cause fire.

• Check your air ducts. If the duct work is not properly connected, about 60 % of heated air is lost, meaning a lot of energy is consumed without even benefiting the residents.

• Changing windows could be expensive, but it would surely help in the providing protection and warmth. Aside from storm windows, there are also the window insulator kits. These kits however, are not too attractive to look at and only temporary, but they are definitely inexpensive. You would just have to affix it into the interior side of the window.

• Avoid pipes bursting. Make sure that water hose, pipe lines are drained and turned off. Insulate your pipelines, you could wrap them with foam rubber or with heating tape.

• Aside from insulating your pipes, you should also check the insulation in the attic. The recommended thickness for attic insulation would be about 12 inches. Also check the basement and the exterior walls if they are properly insulated.

• It is important to have you chimneys, fireplaces and woodstoves cleaned. They may have accumulated debris and soot over the time is was not used which can cause some problems once you started using them again. For chimneys, it is better to seal or cover them with chimney caps and screens to keep out birds and rodents.

Inspecting and winterizing your home would not only help you against the winter ahead, but it would also help you reduce on your fuel costs. Unchecked and non properly maintained parts of your home could cause safety issues and the same tine increase your maintaining cost.

Winterizing Your Garden: The Basics To Follow

Due to the freezing cold, harrowing winds and frost, and possible snowstorms, winter poses a great many challenges for any gardener. At this time of the year, plants are more at risk for developing diseases and eventually dying. You don’t want either of that to happen to your plants, do you? So to prevent any eventualities, you have to winterize your garden. The main reason for winterizing your garden is to protect your plants from the harsh winter elements and help them survive the cold season, so you can have a healthy and productive garden in the spring. Garden winterization is done during the fall season, just before the cold temperature sets in.

Gardens vary in the same way that gardeners do. But although gardens differ, there are winterization procedures that are applicable to all garden types. Here’s a few of them:

1. Rake off leaves from your garden. Doing so prevents diseases among plants and allows proper air and water circulation. Dispose of the leaves by adding them onto your compost. However, if the leaves are from diseased plants, throw them into the garbage to prevent the compost from being contaminated.

2. Cover plants with mulch. This will act as blanket to protect your plants from frost and winter extreme weathers. Unless your place is in the colder zone, use thin layers of mulch, as thick and compact mulch may work against your plants. Use sawdust, pine needles, straw, or shredded leaves as mulch, and apply them around the roots and over the beds.

3. Relocate delicate plants indoors. All plants that can’t survive winter weathers should be moved inside. Place them in a cool and dry place; do not forget to water them regularly. Do not, however, over-water the plants, as this may result in rot. As soon as the spring approaches, place them in sunlit areas.

4. Plant hardy, spring-blooming bulbs in the late fall. By this time, the soil is soft enough to accommodate bulbs. It is recommended to plant them two to three inches from the ground. The more delicate bulbs, on the other hand, should be kept indoors, particularly in a cool and dry room, as they can’t stand the winter cold outside.

5. Do not fertilize. Fertilizing encourages new growths that will be too tender to survive frosts and cold temperature. Should you need to fertilize, do this early in the fall. All fertilization should be put to a halt by mid- to late fall and resume only in the spring.

6. Clean up your plants. Remove the dead and damaged parts, then add the trimmings to the compost pile, unless of course they are cut from diseased plants.

7. Eliminate the weeds. Because weeds grow a lot during the fall, get rid of them as soon as you spot their presence. Otherwise, they will multiply uncontrollably and give you a lot of work come springtime.

When winterizing your garden, figure the possible winter extremes in your area, so you can adjust and better prepare your plants for the coming season.

Winterizing Water Pipes: How To Keep Them Freeze-Free

Frozen, burst water pipes are a nightmare. Not only do they cause flooding and other serious water problems, but they also leave structural damages on the flooring, basement, and some parts of the house. Winter, by all means, is not friendly to plumbing and pipes, and if they are not winterized, you are likely to spend some amount for costly repairs. Save your pipes from winter damages, and do the following steps in winterizing water pipes.

1. Shut off the water system if you are leaving the house for a while. Turn on the indoor faucets and showers to drain. Then, remove water from toilet tanks. You can use an air compressor to siphon all remaining water from the lines. Scoop out water from toilet bowls, and add antifreeze solution to the residual water. Next, focus on the outside plumbing. Turn off the shut-off vent, which in some houses are located in the basement, and turn on the outdoor faucets to drain. When the faucets are all on, go back to the vent and turn the plug to drain the remaining water. Do not forget to drain the in-ground sprinkler as well. When you are sure there is no longer water that can possibly freeze and burst the pipes, turn the plug back and turn off all the faucets.

2. Insulate water pipes, especially those that are exposed and are in unheated areas (garage, basement, and crawl spaces). You can use insulating tape, a heat-producing electrical cord, to cover the pipes. Use the same material to wrap outdoor faucets. In place of insulating tape, you can use fiberglass insulation, molded foam rubber sleeves, rags, or plastic.

3. Let the faucet on and allow water to run. Do this particularly when the temperature hits below freezing point. Although this can add to your water bill, you can reduce the likelihood of having frozen pipes by keeping the water moving. No need for a torrential stream; tiny water drips are sufficient.

4. Replace or seal broken pipes early on. Nothing guarantees winter freeze damage better than cracked and worn out pipes, so do an early inspection. Also, make sure to caulk around the pipes to prevent leaks.

5. Regularly monitor your water flow. In case, there is no water in some parts of the house, check if there is a frozen pipe anywhere in your basement, in the crawl space, or under the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. When you have located the frozen pipe, use a hair dyer to blow heat to the pipe. Do not use an open flame. If there is no water in the entire house, call a plumber to spot leaks and frozen pipes in your city water service.

Do not overlook the pipes. Just as you need winter coats and mittens to survive the winter, your pipes need to be prepared for the coming cold. Whether it is your weekend home or main house, make sure to winterize your water pipes. For more help in winterizing water pipes, contact your trusty plumber.

Winterizing Techniques that You Can Apply at the Garden

Do not be discouraged about your love for gardening just because the colder season is about to come. You cannot do anything about this, not unless you would be willing to relocate somewhere, like in countries that only have two kinds of weather. You don’t really need to go that far because there are steps that you can in winterizing your garden so that you can preserve the effort you have invested in it and to prepare it for the next season when you can tend to it again.

This may sound added work, especially if you are going to attend to many other things at home. But for people who are keen about gardening and love seeing the results of their labor, here are the things that must be done to prepare the area for the winter season.

1. When do you start preparing the garden for the colder months? You will notice change on the color of the plants. As this occurs, leaves will begin to fall off. This is a clear indication that it is time to act on your plan so that you will still have a healthy garden when next year comes.

2. Dig up all your plants from their roots to tips. If you won’t do any measures and you will let dead plant remnants on the garden, you are allowing remnants and rodents to have a feast when it is already winter. To avoid this, you must remove the dead plants and place them in a compost pile. You can also choose to leave the remnants in the garden. You can simply let these at the top of the soil until these have dried up. Plow the soil along with the dried plants early spring or during the later days in fall.

Why do you need to till the dead plants and fallen leaves on the soil? Through this, the garden will be able to absorb nutrients from the plants. If you will leave the plants and do nothing about it, the soil won’t be able to easily absorb the nutrients and this is going to cause delay on the warming of the garden soil when it is already spring.

3. In the fall, you should not put fertilizer on the soil. This is a great way of caring for the environment because this product will cause bad long term effects and besides, it is a waste of money. Nothing is going to absorb it anyway with most plants getting withered or fallen. And besides, if you rely so much on such product, it will eventually be washed away on creeks and wetlands and may cause harm in the process. If you are such a big fan and you cannot do away with fertilizers, do it in spring.

4. You can also add chemicals on your garden during fall, especially if you are such a big fan of these products. Before you do, check the pH level of the soil and add sulfur or lime if it is needed. You can easily spread these chemicals and plow the soil after.

In following these wintering techniques for the garden, you are making it easier for you to start all over again when spring comes and you can start planting anew.

Winterizing A Lawn Mower: A Step-By-Step Guide

Just because you have done the last of your autumn lawn task doesn’t mean you are completely done; you still have to winterize your lawn mower in time for the cold months. Winterizing a lawn mower means prepping it up for the season’s storage. When you properly winterize your lawn mower, you can save hundreds of dollars from costly repairs and you can even prolong the years of your equipment.

Here’s a quick guide on winterizing your lawn mower. Follow them carefully to have a competently geared up lawn mower come springtime.

Empty the gas tank. This will prevent remaining gas from clogging your carburetor. And you don’t want that to happen because it will mean spending hundreds of dollars for repairs. So before you store your lawn mower for winter, turn on the mower until it eats up all the remaining gas and stops on its own. Restart the engine. If the lawn mower doesn’t start, you have successfully drained the gas tank.

Change oil. Refill your oil tank with fresh oil, and make sure the amount is sufficient: not too much, not too little. Dispose of the old oil properly as described by hazardous waste management policies in your area. Do not pour it down the sink, sewer, or ground. If you can, find gas stations in your area that collect old oil for proper waste disposal.

Clean or change the air filter. You can clean the air filter if it is made of plastic, but buy replacements for filters made of paper. It is recommended to replace air filters at least once during the mowing season.

Remove the spark plug. Then, pour lubricating oil through the plug hole and crank the engine a number of times to distribute the oil. Now, reinstall the plug. If your spark plug, however, is quite old, you need to buy a replacement. You know you need to replace it if the lawn mower reaches a hundred hours of use.

Clean the undersides. Grass clippings and other foreign materials may have stuck between blades, so scrape them off to prevent rusting. You can also hose them down for easy dislodging. Scrub the undersides and the surface area to remove rusts using a steel wool. To remove greasy materials, use warm and soapy water. Allow the lawn mower to dry before storing. Remember to wear gloves when cleaning the lawn mower to prevent hand injuries.

Sharpen the blades. Although you can have them sharpened before re-using, it is better to sharpen them during winterization to save some time. You can either sharpen the blades on your own or send them to a professional. Apply protective oil to keep the blades from rusting during the cold months.

Store the lawn mower in a secure place. You can keep it in your garage or basement, or wherever it is safe. Cover it with plastic and place mothballs near the lawn mower, so no rodents will take residence in it. Properly winterizing a lawn mower assures you that you have something to work with come spring.

Winterization Within Budget

Energy bills could run very high during winter. Winterizing or preparing for the winter may also be a problem for your purse. There are ways in which you could increase your home’s heating efficiency but at the same time, cur down a little from your previous winter electric bill.

There are things which you could do on your own. There are some homeowners who would hire professional help from plumbers, electricians and contractors. But during this stage of crisis and financial hardship, we can use some simple, do-it-your own and within the budget winterization process.

• Hiring somebody to winterize your home could be expensive. You could start learning on how you could do it from books in your local library or by tackling some cracks and holes. You could also visit websites that could give you sufficient information and even step-by-step procedures.

• You could use plastic sheets when covering unused windows and doors. They could easily be bought in different stores like home improvement shops.

• Do not forget the dryer vent and the area surrounding your washing machine and kitchen sink pipes. Any holes would let the cold wind in and is wasted energy. You could use foam or foam board which can be bought in hardware stores.

• Avoid using your ventilating fans in the kitchen and bathroom since it would suck your heated air out.

• If you have rooms that are not occupied, then it is better to seal off the vent and the doors of these rooms. Imagine keeping the room heated when nobody is even using or going in it.

• Dirty filters are not only dirty, they could also mean more money. Dirt could clog the filters and would eventually cause the filters to work harder and longer.

• You could pull your curtains off the window every morning to let the sunshine and some warmth in the room. At night, your could draw back the curtains to contain the heat and separate the windows from the rest of the heated house.

Preparing your home and your property is not the only thing that you would have to winterize. You would also need to prepare your freezer and your family members for the winter. Summer is a great time for buying sales of fresh produce. You could start stocking up during summer for the winter. You could buy canned fruits, vegetables and meat. Having enough food is important since winter would often mean roads closed, power outages, and harsh weather to be outside. Some would even have extra money with them in case of emergencies.

Aside from fresh produce, you could also start buying equipment that you may need, for example some tape to cover cracks where cold air could pass through. You could also start washing your blankets even before winter strikes. This would save you enough time and at the same time the hassle of preparing the blankets once the first freeze comes in.

Winterizing frugally can be pretty hard. Besides, winter is the most expensive season there is. Energy bills could take a chunk out of your funds. Anyway, it is important to put your family’s comfort and health before anything else.

Wintering Your Boat: How To Prepare It For Winter

As the boating season comes to a halt, your top concern would be preparing your boat for winter storage. You have to make sure it is safe and snug all through winter and can survive the cold weather. Hiring a professional to winterize your boat is a good option, although you can do the job on your own. Along with the manufacturer’s recommendations, the following guidelines can help you through winterizing your boat.

Clean the boat’s interior.
This means taking the mess off the carpet, getting rid of the food items from the refrigerator, dusting the lockers and cabinets, airing out the cushions, etc. Clear the interior as thoroughly as possible. Take note of the damages and do arrangements to have the necessary replacements. Also, provide proper boat ventilation to avoid trapping moisture inside, which invites the growth of mold and mildew. Consider using mildew spray and dehumidifiers as well.

Fill the fuel tank and add fuel stabilizer.
Doing so will prevent condensation and oxidation that may work against the engine. After adding stabilizer, run the motor up until the stabilizer has penetrated the engine.

Change the oil.
Drain the old oil properly and replace it with fresh oil. Start the engine to allow the oil to circulate and penetrate the system. Changing oil is necessary to prevent corrosion that results in engine defects. Do not forget to change the oil filter as well.

Hose the engine with fresh water.
Then, allow the engine to drain. Make sure the engine is completely drained of water because a small amount of residual water will tend to freeze and result in serious damages. To prevent the build-up of rust and corrosion, spray fogging oil onto the engine. Start by running the engine and shutting down the fuel supply. As soon as the engine stops on its own, take out the spark plugs and spray fogging oil onto the cylinders.

Take a good look at the hull.
If you find gelcoat blisters, treat them with special epoxy. Also, check the bottom of the boat and scrape off barnacles. You can pressure-wash the bottom to remove tough dirt and slime. Do the necessary painting and waxing to restore the boat’s exterior appeal.

Charge the batteries.
Disconnect the batteries, add distilled water, and charge them at home. Some boat experts advise charging the batteries after every 30 to 60 days.

Choose the best storage method for your boat.
You have three options: backyard storage, indoor storage, or boatyard shrink-wrapping. Backyard storage is a convenient and practical approach. Keeping the boat in your yard only requires a boat cover, which should be sturdy and made of breathable materials to discourage moisture and growth of mold and mildew. Indoor storage, on the other hand, means keeping your boat in a paid facility. This can be a bit costly, but it guarantees that your boat is safe and protected from winter elements.

The final option is shrink-wrapping your boat. After winterizing your boat, you can either have a boatyard personnel shrink-wrap your boat or buy a kit and do it on your own, after which the boat is placed in a boatyard to spend the winter.

What Is The Winterizing Process?

Winterizing or winterization is used to refer to the process of preparing for the approaching winter. In the winterization process, there is a need to drain water from different aquatic systems like fountains, swimming pools, and other systems. This is to remove water so that it would not freeze causing the pipes to break. Winterizing is crucial in areas where winter and snow covers the ground and the area for a long period of time.

Winterizing should also be performed in cabins, cottages and even in standard homes to prepare for the temperature drop during winter. Each home is different, which is why there are specific winterization strategies specific to that home or cottage. Irrigation systems also need to be prepared for the winter. Normally, winterization will start by the first winter freeze for irrigation systems. The recommended time for winterization to start in irrigation systems, would when the temperature at night drops to below 32°F.

There are some local requirements by your community council, that winterization would start from October 1 to March 31. If you are new in your area, you could ask information from a Coordinator to ask about the winterization requirements and details.

Irrigation system could normally stand about a couple of days of freezing temperature. There are places however that are winterized. For example, in Toronto, Canada, the Dundas Square is winterized by turning the water off in each of the pipes that supply water to 20 fountains and covering six hundred nozzles.

Aside from homes, gardens and irrigation systems, winter could also be harsh on your car. Vehicles would also need some level of winterizing. Low temperatures could affect its operation and physical condition. Cold temperatures could make it harder for the engine to work. Potholes in roads could cause damage to the wheels and tires.

Boats, swimming pools and even your own diet could use a bit of winterizing and preparing for the winter. Winter could affect the boat’s engine and make it susceptible to corrosion. With proper winterization of your boat, you could extend its life and engine. There are different tips that could ensure that your boat will run efficiently come the next spring, like keeping the fuel tank full and just leaving a little room for condensation. Failing to fill the fuel tank, could increase the risk of condensation and lead to clogging and corrosion.

Preparing your home for the winter could be done by the a professional or you could do it on your own. When getting somebody to do the winterizing for you, make sure that the plumber is licensed and would have sufficient experience to do so. It is very important to winterize your home, especially if you are leaving for a vacation and will be leaving your home unoccupied over a long period of winter time.

Winterization or winterizing is not only about preparing your properties for the winter, it can also include preparing yourself and your health for the low temperatures. Winter is not only harsh on your physical stuff, but can also pound on your health.

Tips For Winterizing Your Vacation Home

Winterizing your vacation home, in essence, is preparing to close it down in time for winter. Shutting it down, however, is not as easy as it sounds. You need it to be meticulously done, otherwise, you will go back home to a place of broken pipes, rodents, and a number of damages come post-winter season. But although it’s kind of a meticulous task, winterizing your vacation home can be quite manageable if you follow some tips.

Clear the gutters and surrounding area of your vacation home.
Remove all the leaves and other debris from the gutters so that melting snow and ice can freely flow and do not create ice dams in the structure. You can have your gutters covered with a screen, if leaves and other debris seem to be a problem while you’re away. Next, prune trees and plants that can potentially cause property damages if snow storms and winds occur. Then, clean your lawn, so when ice and water accumulate, no rodents will take residence in it. Also, cover your chimney with protective cap, and other possible entry points for that matter, to keep rodents, pests, and foreign objects from entering.

Shut down water system.
Never leave the vacation home without turning off the water pump, because failure to do so may cause the water trapped in the lines to freeze and the pipes to break and burst. Now, once you shut off the pump, drain the water pipes. Do this by turning the faucets on until all residual water comes out. Use a compressor to make sure there is no more water remaining in the lines.

Winterize the toilet.
Empty the toilet tank to avoid cracks. The bowl, on the other hand, should be drained by scooping out as much water as you can. Add antifreeze solution to the remaining water to prevent it from freezing. Antifreeze solution should also be added to sinks and shower traps.

Insulate the house.
Install insulation in the attic to prevent heat loss. The same should be done in the basement so as not to cause pipe breaks.

De-clutter your house.
Eliminate all products, such as medicine, cosmetics, beverages, and food items, that may rot and freeze in the winter months. You can dispose them of or bring them to your main house. Your refrigerator should also be unplugged, emptied, cleaned, and propped open all through winter to prevent the development of mildew and unpleasant odor. All other appliances should as well be unplugged.

Keep outdoor furniture and appliances inside.
To prevent them from winter damages, all outdoor furniture and appliances—from stools to barbecue equipment—should be kept indoors. Tools should also be stored in the garage. Should keeping them indoors is impossible, cover them with protective sheets, like plastic.

Turn the heating system on.
Some homeowners prefer to turn it off, while others like to leave their heating system in a working order. It works best for them, especially if they worry about going back to a vacation home infested with mold and mildew. If you prefer to keep the heating system on, keep a minimum heat of 62ºF. This way, you can continue winterizing your vacation home while you’re away.