Fall is the time to get winterized in preparation for the season. Proper winterization involves a check-up of your home’s HVAC equipment, sprinkler systems, fireplaces and windows.  These are just a few areas of your home that you need to get started on.  This checklist can help you enjoy a comfy, cozy and worry free winter season.

Winter Ready Checklist

Winterizing the Heating System

  • Test run: Turn the thermostat to heat mode and set it to 80 degrees, just for testing. You should hear the furnace turn on, and warm air should begin to blow within a few minutes. If at this time it gives you any trouble call your professional HVAC technician.
  • Replace the air filter: Put in a new, clean air filter. It’s easy and it will ensure a free flow of air and a cleaner environment. Each furnace has its own requirements for air filters, so follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. A monthly replacement of the air filter is usually recommended.
  • Check fuel supply:  If you have a propane or fuel oil furnace, make sure to have your fuel storage tank is topped off and ready to go.
  • Inspect and clean heating vents: Clear obstacles to heating vents, so air can freely flow. We suggest have these vents cleaned every two years to ensure free and clean air flow. Ask a professional to inspect and clean your vents. Swift Services can help!
  • Check exhaust vents: Some furnaces and boilers, as well as gas water heaters, vent through a chimney, while newer high-efficiency models may vent through plastic pipes running through a side wall. Make sure these vents are open and free of obstructions.

Winterizing the Air Conditioning System

  • Clean the condensing unit of debris:   With a water hose clean the fan blades and condensing coils clear of debris and dirt. Let the unit dry completely before covering it for the season.
  • Cover the condensing unit: Left unprotected, the condensing unit can be damaged by wet leaves and debris that contribute to rusting and freezing of internal components. Although these units are designed for outdoor use, covering them with a breathable waterproof cover made for that purpose goes a long way to extending the life and efficient performance of the unit.
  • Winterize window air conditioners: As for window air conditioners, remove them if possible and store for winter. Left in windows, these appliances are very hard to seal  against winter drafts. If they can’t be removed, then close the vents and make sure to get an air conditioning cover similar to the condensing unit cover described above.

Inspect Fireplace and Chimney

  • Clear obstructions. Check to make sure the chimney is clear of any nests from birds, squirrels or other small animals.
  • Check the damper. Make sure it opens and closes fully, and that it is can be locked in the open or closed position.
  • Check the chimney draft. Make sure the chimney will draw up the fire and smoke properly. Test this by taking several sheets of newspaper and rolling them up. Then with the fireplace damper in the open position, light the newspaper in the fireplace. The smoke should rise up the chimney. If it doesn’t, you have an obstruction and need to call a professional in to clean the chimney of creosote and ash and possible debris.

Winterize Water Pipes

  • Insulate pipes: If you have any exposed water pipes such as in a crawlspace, attic, exterior walls, etc., make sure to insulate them with foam insulating sleeves.
  • Exterior faucets:   Turn off the water supply within the faucet and drain the water from them by opening up the exterior faucets. You may also want to consider an insulated cover for the hose.   And remember to disconnect your garden hoses from the outside faucets, and drain them.

Seal Doors & Windows

Windows

  • Inspect the outside windows for damaged or missing caulking. Use a good-quality exterior caulk to seal any gaps.
  • Inspect window tracks and clean them of any debris that might be interfering with seals.
  • Inspect the locking mechanisms on all windows work adequately. You will want to lock them securely once winter sets in.
  • Check for air leaks. Typically, air leaks will be found at the edges where the window is hinged, slides, or meets another unit—such as between the two panels of a double-hung window. To seal the windows use an inexpensive rope caulk to seal gaps around window moldings and between sliding window panes. Press the rope to caulk into all the joints where the air is leaking.

Doors

  • Inspect caulking around the outside door frames, and add new exterior-grade caulking, if necessary.
  • Inspect and replace any failed weather stripping around doors, including the door sweep attached to the bottom of the door. 
  • Check for air leaks and use rope caulking where applicable to seal gaps. 

Winterize Sprinkler Systems

The sprinkler system should not be overlooked when preparing your home for winter. Have your sprinkler system winterized no later than the end of October.