Ways to prepare your home for winter
BY NOUR HABIB World Scene Writer
Monday, November 26, 2012
11/26/12 at 4:40 AM
As winter creeps in ever so slowly, getting your home ready for the colder months may be on your mind.
Below are tips to help you keep your home warm, use power efficiently and protect equipment from extreme elements.
Vice President of Weatherization for M-D Building Products Sean Mossman, who recently organized weatherization clinics at Westlake Ace Hardware, said checking your home for air leaks is easy.
On a cold day, run your hand around your doorframes and windows, he said. If you feel a draft on the inside of the house, you'll need weather-stripping. If you feel a draft outside, or see cracks, you'll need caulking.
Russ Weaver, department supervisor for Home Depot, said windows are especially important because they are a huge area for heat loss.
If you've got old-style, single-pane windows, Weaver suggests installing new double-hung, vinyl windows produced by companies such as Jeld-Wen or Andersen.
"They help retain heat much better," he said.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, covering windows with plastic can also help keep cold air out.
Also, fill in any gaps around doors or windows with weather-stripping. Cracks can be filled in with expanding foam or caulking.
Mossman recommends a long-lasting siliconized acrylic caulk that can be painted, resists mold and mildew and forms a weather-tight seal.
Mossman and Weaver also stressed the importance of insulation.
If you have less than 11 inches of fiberglass insulation or eight inches of blown cellulose (recycled paper) insulation in your attic, you could benefit by adding more, Mossman said.
Outdoors pipes can be insulated with newspapers or plastic, according to FEMA.
Weaver suggests putting a faucet cover on your outdoor faucet, and wrapping a blanket around your hot water heater. Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic.
"It costs so little to properly insulate your house, for what you get out of it in the long run," Weaver said.
FEMA also has several other tips:
- Allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
- Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.
- Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking necessary safety precautions.
- Hire a contractor to check the structural stability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow or water if flat-roof drains don't work.
- Clear rain gutters, repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
FEMA's car winterization tips
Battery and ignition system should be in top condition and battery terminals clean.
Ensure antifreeze levels are sufficient to avoid freezing.
Ensure the heater and defroster work properly.
Check and repair windshield wiper equipment; ensure proper washer fluid level.
Ensure the thermostat works properly.
Check lights and flashing hazard lights for serviceability.
Check for leaks and crimped pipes in the exhaust system; repair or replace as necessary.
Check brakes for wear and fluid levels.
Check oil for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
Make sure tires have adequate tread, or consider chains or snow tires with studs.
Replace fuel and air filters. Keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas.
Update the emergency kits in your vehicles with a shovel; windshield scraper and small broom; flashlight; battery-powered radio; extra batteries; water and snack food; matches; extra hats, socks and mittens; first aid kit with pocket knife; necessary medications; blankets; a tow chain or rope; road salt and sand; booster cables; emergency flares; and a fluorescent distress flag.
Nour Habib 918-581-8369
Use sealants to winterize a house and help reduce heat loss. Tulsa World file
Crack and gap insulating foam sealants help winterize a house. Tulsa World file