While Paris, Texas, might not experience the same blinding snow and bitterly cold temperatures as seen elsewhere in the U.S., it still has cold winter days and nights ahead. Before the temperatures start to significantly drop, now is the perfect opportunity to winterize your home. By taking the right action, you avoid a host of problems and make it through this season with ease. The winter checklist provided will walk you through each step of the process.
Start by checking your heating system. If you have not yet turned your furnace on, go through a test run to make sure that hot air blows out when setting the thermostat on “heat” and at 80 degrees. If the air blows cool, contact a professional. Also, replace the furnace filter and clean the heating vents. For an oil or propane furnace, have the storage tank filled. Finally, use a home kit or have the local fire department check for any carbon monoxide leaks.
Air Conditioning System
Just like the furnace, you need to check your air conditioning system in preparation for the upcoming winter. Use high-powered air to clean debris off the condensing unit and then cover it to protect it from dirt, debris, rain, snow, and other outside elements that could cause damage. If you cool your home with window units, those need to come out, and the vents need to be closed.
Perhaps the most critical thing to check is a wood-burning fireplace, including the chimney and flue. Not only can cold air seep inside through the chimney, but if you have not had it cleaned in some time, there could be a buildup of creosote, which is highly flammable. For that, you will need to have the chimney professionally cleaned.
However, there are things that you can do yourself, such as making sure there are no bird or small animal nests inside of the chimney. You can also check the operation of the flue by rolling up a few pieces of old newspaper, lighting it inside of the fireplace, and then holding it over the flue while in the open position. If working correctly, smoke will rise. If not, the chimney may have an obstruction.
If the outside temperature gets too cold, uninsulated pipes can freeze and burst. Along with a mess, this is an expensive accident. Any exposed pipes, especially those on exterior walls, need proper insulation. Also insulate pipes located in areas without good insulation, including the basement, crawl space, attic, and so on. At a minimum, use a foam type of insulation. However, a much better solution involves wrapping the pipes with quality grade material, followed by taping it on. Insulate outside faucets, as well, and remove garden hoses.
If you plan to spend the winter months elsewhere, always shut the water off at the main valve and drain the system. That way, there’s no risk of a leak developing.
Doors and Windows
Don’t overlook your doors and winters, both primary sources of air leaks. For the windows, feel around the perimeter for airflow using the flicker of a lighter or the smoke from lit incense. An inexpensive fix is to tape heavy plastic over the windows or use shrink-wrap plastic. However, for the best results, apply caulk to the areas where you felt the air coming inside. As for the doors, install weather stripping around the bottom and sides.
Your roof may also need winterizing. Damaged or missing shingles or loose flashing around the chimney would allow cold air to seep inside. If you feel comfortable checking these things, great. Otherwise, call a professional. Either clean or have the gutters and downspouts cleaned out, as well, since frozen leaves create significant weight and, therefore, potential damage.
During the summer months, an automatic sprinkler system is great, but in the winter, it poses a risk. Shut off the water supply to the system and purge the lines by blowing compressed air through them. If the sprinkler system does not get winterized, the lines could freeze and burst.
Empty the gas from the lawnmower before putting it in storage, drain and unplug any water features, and cover outdoor furniture. If needed, apply a coat of sealer to your wood deck. If you have a fish pond, install a water agitator to prevent it from freezing and to produce oxygen.
For a safe and reliable car this winter, make sure to have it winterized. Find outstanding service when you visit our on-site service department at James Hodge Dodge in Paris, Texas. Give us a call to schedule an appointment, or stop by today. We look forward to making your winter checklist complete.