With winter just around the corner, there are a few mistakes homeowners often make during the season that could have big consequences.
If you own a house, then you’ve probably come to terms with the fact that sometimes the reality of homeownership is a little less glamorous than the dream of owning your own home. It’s great to own your own little piece of the world, but it also comes with a lot of additional costs and responsibilities that no one is going to tell you about.
And the more you ignore them, the worse it gets when things hit a breaking point.
There are several common mistakes that people tend to make when it comes time to winterize your house. Many, many people do one, or several of these things, and that can lead to major problems. Here are a few of the most common mistakes homeowners make – if you recognize any of these, you may want to get a move on and fix them now.
Be Sure to Flip Your Fans
This is a simple and easy thing to do, and yet many people have no idea that this is even possible.
If you own a ceiling fan, you can switch the rotation of the blades. In the summer, you’ll want it to move in a counterclockwise direction, and the warmer it is, the faster you’ll want the fan to spin. In the winter, however, if you change the rotation to clockwise and keep it at a low speed, it will push down warm air and help to warm the room.
All fans are different, but generally, you can just look for a switch on the side of the unit and flip it to change the rotation. It will help warm your house and it uses far less energy than running your furnace, so it will potentially save you money.
Forget About Cracks
If you own an older house, there is a good chance that there may be a few cracks in the concrete or brick, in the house, driveway, walkways, and steps. During the summer, it’s not a big deal. Small cracks happen all the time. You make a note of it and promise to take care of it later.
It’s a fairly common mistake, and one that can cause huge, expensive problems once winter comes and goes. If the cracks are in your house, not only can they potentially lead to structural damage, they will potentially just make your house much colder. It’s best to fix them immediately.
For the driveways, pathways, and steps, if they are not treated to regular maintenance and repairs, they can become a dangerous hazard in the winter, especially when they conceal ice and slick spots. Plus, the weather can further crack the pavement and stone, leaving you with expensive repairs when temperatures rise and the surfaces expand.
Ignore Maintenance on Appliances
If you have an HVAC unit that is more than a few years old, you need to have it checked regularly. Maintenance is an essential part of owning a complex piece of machinery, but it’s also one that most people don’t think about – until it’s too late.
The best time to service an HVAC unit is during the spring or fall, when you may not need to use the heat or the air conditioning. The later you leave it, the more demand the service technicians will face, which means you’ll be waiting longer, and probably be paying more. And if you completely ignore your maintenance and your heater breaks down when you need it most – say the dead of winter – you’ll be at the mercy of the technicians and their schedule as you shiver and wait for them to have an opening in their day.
Neglect Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Each year, more than 20,000 people in the United States alone find themselves in the ER, and over 400 die due to the carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the Center for Disease Control. Carbon monoxide can be a byproduct of ovens, gas ranges, improperly constructed fireplaces, and faulty furnaces, so cases tend to peak in December and January when people first turn on their heat or start a fire.
While ultimately you will need to make sure everything in your house is in working order, carbon monoxide is silent and odorless. You may not know you have a problem until it is too late, and yet many people don’t even own a detector or know they need one.
If you ignore everything else on this list, don’t make this mistake. Be sure to check your carbon monoxide detector and replace the batteries. If you don’t have one, be sure to pick one up – they don’t cost much, especially given how important they are.
Old, Uncovered Windows
Another common mistake that people make when the winter comes is to leave their windows as they are. If you have brand new, triple pane windows you may be alright when the cold temperatures arrive, but most of us are stuck with older windows that need a little help.
If you don’t cover your windows using some form of transparent window insulation, you will be losing heat at a massive rate. That means your house will always be colder than it needs to be, and you’ll be expending a lot of energy trying to keep up as you crank the heater.
The worst part of this is that all you need is a hairdryer and a sheet of cheap plastic insulation, and you can save yourself a lot of hassle and money.
Skip Yard Maintenance
Depending on where you live, the winter weather can come upon you suddenly and almost without warning. One day you may have a cool, but relatively pleasant and sunny day, the next you can be buried under several inches of snow.
Because of that, it’s easy to convince yourself that you can clean up and prepare your yard next week for the coming change in weather, but by the time you get around to it your patio furniture is a sloppy mess and the tools you left out may need to go straight into the recycling bin thanks to the inevitable rust.
Sure, you may get one or two more nice days where you can use your outdoor equipment, but the downside is expensive.
Think Water Damage is Not a Big Deal
This is a common, but understandable mistake. If you are in your basement or crawlspace and you see a little bit of water trickling down from a pipe or a crack in the wall, or even just a bit of dampness, you may decide it is a minor enough problem that you don’t need to pay someone a potentially huge sum of money to come out and fix it. Maybe you throw a bucket down to catch the drip, or you just wipe it up and move on.
The problem is that water damage in the fall can lead to serious damage in the winter when things begin to freeze. Under the best of circumstances, pipes can burst if not properly protected, and adding water into that mix can have disastrous consequences. The same is true of any leaks in the wall. Not only are winters typically wetter, meaning you will have a lot more water on the way, anything that freezes can also destroy.
Even in the best case scenario, water damage can lead to even colder temperatures in the basement or crawlspace, which means you’ll be paying more to heat your home – and that’s a best-case scenario.
Don’t Make These Mistakes Homeowners!
Prepare your house for the winter before it is too late. Contact Fleschner Construction now and we’ll be happy to arrange an inspection to see what needs to be done. A little work now can save you a lot of work later!