With the first week of winter-like weather in the Salt Lake City area this past week we thought it would be a great time to share some common winterization tips for your home. Following these tips will not only increase the longevity of some aspects of your home but can also have a direct impact on the cost of heating your home during the colder winter months.
How to Winterize Your Sprinkler System
There’s nothing worse than turning on your sprinklers in the spring only to realize somewhere you have a broken pipe and will have to then dig in the mud and fix the pipe. Broken pipes result from water that is left in the pipes that then freezes and expands. This can be avoided by winterizing your sprinkler system. Avoiding broken pipes is a simple process. First, you want to shut off the water supply to the sprinkler system itself. This is often done with a sprinkler key and is usually located inside a shallow shaft somewhere in your yard. After shutting off the water supply you need to drain your pipes of any extra water that may be in them. The easiest way to do this is to manually run each section until the water drains from the entire system. Some systems may require you to use a air compressor to blow out the water while others (certain types of pipes) may not require you to blow out the water at all. In most cases, shutting off the water and running the system one final time will be sufficient to winterize your sprinklers. Generally speaking, you should winterize your sprinklers before it consistently freezes during the night to avoid broken pipes. In most of Northern Utah, including Salt Lake City, this will probably be in late October or early November.
Cleaning Out the Gutters and Repairing Damaged Roofs
For homes that may have a considerable amount of leaves that fall in the yard, cleaning out the eaves troughs or gutters can be extremely important. Any buildup of leaves can cause not only drainage issues but may result in broken eaves troughs as the weight of the frozen leaves and snow may damage the eaves troughs not built to withstand such weight. More importantly, backed up eaves troughs due to leaves may result in leaky roofs that can cause damage to the interior of a home if there is rainfall before the weather becomes too cold to produce snow. While there are services to clean out your gutters all it really requires is a ladder and some proper safety to clean out and ensure it drains properly. Hand in hand with eaves troughs is the roofing. Whether it’s a heavy winter or a light one, increased precipitation and leaky roofs can result in big bills inside the home. A simple visual examination of the roof can point you to any spots where shingles may be missing or damaged. If there are such areas, replacement shingles can be purchased at any major home improvement store. Its than just a matter of safely getting on the roof and removing the old/damaged shingles and replacing them with new ones.
Weather Stripping Windows and Doors
One of the biggest reasons for high electrical bills during the winter is drafty windows and doorways. The quickest way to check to see if there might be an issue is to find out if any areas are missing caulking or weather stripping. This simple eyeball test can tell you instantly where to add more of these two. Another easy way to find out if you have a problem is to simply feel around the edges of windows and doors on a windy day. Any major draft will need to be sealed. If there is a lack of wind then a fan can be used for the same purpose. The other consideration may be the type of window treatment that you are using. While shades and drapes may be aesthetically pleasing they do a very poor job of retaining heat or blocking out cold. Store bought mini-blinds only do a slightly better job. Despite manufacturing custom shutters, we can objectively state that shutters are in fact one of the best window treatment options in blocking out cold and retaining heat. Studies show that plantation shutters can reduce heat loss around doors and windows by up to 50 percent. So while it may not be in the budget for a short term purchase, shutters can be a very cost effective investment over the long run. Whether it’s just properly sealed doors and windows in the short terms or the addition of shutters for the long run these two tips can save homeowners lots of money throughout the cold winter months year after year.
We know firsthand how expensive home ownership can be but by following these simple tips with your sprinklers, gutters and roofs, and windows and doors, home owners can save money both in the short and long term. A little bit of effort now can save a lot of headache down the road.