While cold weather can visit Olathe as early as October, winter officially begins on December 21st and runs through March 20th. With all the holiday preparations going on in December, it can be easy enough to forget a few of those chores around the house that help to keep it insulated against the coming cold weather. But while you're decking the halls inside and stringing up outdoor lighting outside, you might also want to use this handy pre-winter checklist to make sure your home and heating system are prepared for Old Man Winter's visit this month. We've made it easy to follow by breaking it up into a few categories like indoor and outdoor precautions and, of course, your annual furnace tune-up.
Furnace Tune-Up and Heating System Checks
- Maybe the most important thing to do in order to make sure that your home is ready for winter is to schedule an annual furnace tune-up for your heating system. Right now, a full-service furnace tune-up is only $79, and it does so much good for your heating system—not to mention helping save on utility bills!
- Pick up some extra furnace filters! You'll get one with your annual furnace tune-up, but it's always a good idea to have a couple of extra ones on hand so that you can change your filters out once a month.
- Get your ducts working for you. If your HVAC system pushes cool air through the same ducts during the summer as it does warm air during the winter, you may need to change your registers or open and close ducts to certain rooms in order to optimize your heating once winter kicks into high gear.
- Running the furnace tends to dry out the air, so keeping it humid during the winter is important. Turn your humidifier on if you've got one, and don't forget to change the filter. (That's also included in your annual furnace tune-up, just so you know.)
- Make sure that your furnace, vents, and the rest of your heating system are clear of any clutter. Blocking the vents or having stuff too close to the furnace is not only a fire hazard, but can also impact the efficiency of your heating system. The heating pro who performs your annual furnace tune-up can tell you how much of a buffer you should leave between the furnace and everything else.
- Invest in a programmable digital thermostat, preferably a learning thermostat such as the NEST system. A learning thermostat can save you money and keep your house cozy and warm all winter long by adjusting the temperature based on your habits. Experts suggest keeping the house around 68 degrees when you're at home and awake, and dropping it as much as 10 or 15 degrees when you're away from home or asleep.
- If your furnace is going to go out, then chances are it's going to do it at the least opportune time, on the coldest night of the year. So be prepared for something to go wrong, especially if you have a furnace that's more than 15 years old. If something does happen, give Davenport Service Company a call at (913) 441-2222!
Preparing the Home on the Inside
Keeping your home warm, safe, and cozy during the long Olathe winter is about more than just your furnace, though. There are lots of other little things you can do around the house to help ensure that you enjoy a comfortable, safe holiday season without worry.
- Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and replace the batteries, even if the batteries they have are still working. Ditto with flashlights, because you don't want to be stumbling around in the dark if the power should go out in an ice storm.
- Speaking of stumbling around in the dark, don't forget to check your fire extinguishers and make sure they're accessible and fully charged. Cold weather means fireplaces, candles, and plenty of holiday lighting, which is all very cozy, but also presents a very real potential fire hazard, so play it safe.
- There are plenty of ways to prevent frozen pipes, though the easiest is to make sure that your house just doesn't get too cold. On the off chance that the temperature does drop inside, though, you can help stave off freezing by leaving a faucet on, even just at a drip. Try the faucet farthest from where the water enters the house.
- Make sure the flue on your chimney is closed when it's not in use to prevent drafts. In fact, it may be a good idea to get your chimney checked out by a pro before you build that first crackling fire.
- While you're at it, check your water heater, too. The last thing you want is for your water heater to go out in the middle of some cold winter night when you're right in the middle of a shower!
- Winter means it's time to change the direction of your ceiling fans. Most ceiling fans have a switch on them that lets you change the direction of the blades so that they rotate clockwise, in order to push warm air down and help circulate the heat from your furnace throughout the house.
- Cold weather can lead to power outages, which can be dangerous when the temperatures drop too low outside. So put together a cold weather emergency power outage kit for your family, and have a plan in place for what to do in the event of a prolonged outage.
- Space heaters can be a great way to warm up just the area that you need to occupy. Unfortunately, they're also a great way to start a fire if they're left unattended. If you use a space heater, make sure you keep a close eye on it, and don't leave it on if you wander off.
- When you've finished that delicious holiday dinner, don't just scrape the plates into the garbage disposal. Disposals are handy contraptions, but they aren't designed to handle just anything, and you can clog the pipes if you aren't careful. Take a little extra care and guard your plumbing this holiday season.
Preparing for Winter Outside the Home
Sure, the inside of your house is where you're likely to spend the majority of your time this winter, but that doesn't mean there aren't a few things you can do around the outside of your house to keep your home cozy, safe, and warm.
- Clean your gutters now that all the leaves have finally fallen.
- Make sure that your exterior garden hose is detached and that all outdoor faucets are shut off to prevent freezing.
- Bring in your outdoor furniture, not to mention grills, smokers, and other yard items. It's not like you'll be using them in the dead of winter anyway, and there's no point in unnecessarily exposing them to the elements.
- Consider covering your outdoor AC unit during the winter, because snow and ice can do a number on it. But if you have a heat pump instead, make sure any debris or vegetation is cleared well away from it so that it has room to "breathe."
Other Preparations to Keep You Warm and Safe this Winter
And then, of course, there are all the little things that we always seem to forget until we need them, so try to knock as many of them out before it's too late.
- Find your snow shovel before you need it. And while you're at it, it never hurts to pick up a spare.
- Don't want to shovel your drive or your steps or your front walk? Find a neighborhood kid who's selling snow shoveling services. And don't be a cheapskate and try to haggle! It's the season of giving, after all, and they're doing a job that you don't want to do.
- Get a tune-up for your snow blower, if you've got one.
- Don't forget to pick up ice melt for the driveway, front steps, and walkway. Just remember that magnesium is bad for concrete, and some ice melt can be dangerous for pets, so read the labels before you buy!
- Put together a winter car prep kit in case you get stranded in the cold. Include a windshield scraper, extra warm clothes, water and nonperishable emergency food, a blanket, and even a bag of cat litter for some extra traction, if you need it.
Your Home Should Be Ready for Whatever Old Man Winter Has in Store!
Here in Olathe, Kansas weather can change without much notice, so there's no time like the present to get your winter prep activities knocked out. You can start with an annual furnace tune-up from Davenport Service Company by giving us a call today at 913-441-2222!