It seems like just yesterday the leaves were falling and you were preparing yourself and your home for cold weather. You caulked all of your windows and doors for drafts, you insulated your plumbing, you programmed your new thermostat – but you might have missed a few key tasks to prevent damages to your home throughout winter. These three simple tasks will help save you money and keep your family safe until spring arrives:
1.Replace Furnace Filters
Your furnace has a hard job to do, especially during winter months! The filter of your furnace catches all of the dust, lint, debris and particles from the air circulating around your home. Over time, this gunk can build up on the filter and become partially or completely clogged – blocking the airflow within the furnace. Not only does this compromise the air quality in your home, it also poses a serious fire hazard and can damage your unit.
Experts recommend replacing furnace filters once every three months depending on the use. If you are a pet owner, for example, you may have to change your filter more regularly. Examine the filter to see if it has accumulated a lot of dirt. If it is completely clogged, run to your local home store for a replacement. Air filters are sold at an extremely affordable price.
2.Remove Ice Dams on Low Pitched Roofs and Gutters
What is an Ice Dam
An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms on your roofline preventing water from melting snow from draining correctly off the roof. With nowhere to go, this water can then back up below roof shingles and make its way into your home causing extensive damage.
Signs of Ice Dams
Keep an eye out for icicles around the exterior of your home as they can be a precursor to ice dams. Whenever possible, and only when safe to do so, remove icicles from your roofline (don’t stand directly beneath them, though!). If the icicles are too high for you to reach from the ground, consider hiring a contractor to assist in their removal.
Water stains or moisture in your attic or along the ceiling of exterior walls of your home is also a sign that water has penetrated the roof membrane of your home.
Removing Ice Dams
Removing the ice dam from your roof as quickly as possible is essential to preventing severe damage within your home. There are a few different approaches to removing an ice dam, but one of the safest routes is to use a calcium chloride ice melt. This deicer can be found at hardware and home improvement stores, they usually come in tablet or crystal form. Following the label instructions, sprinkle or distribute the substance along the top of the ice in your gutter. It will slowly melt the ice, and the substances will drain out of your gutters with the water.
You can try your best to chip away at the ice and remove sections of it but only if it is safe to reach, using a ladder in snowy/icy conditions can be very dangerous. If the ice dam is out of reach and begins to grow, it’s probably best to call a contractor to remove it appropriately.
3.Remove Snow & Ice from External Vents
If your home is equipped with a high efficiency furnace, the accumulation of snow and even strong winds can accumulate ice and snow around the intake and exhaust vents for the unit on the side of your home. Comparable issues can happen with traditional rooftop vents as well. Blocking the vent that exhausts gas causes it to back up into the home and poses a serious carbon monoxide risk. Blocking the intake vent causes problems for the furnace itself, impeding the airflow necessary for efficiency, and may even lead to a failing system.
To prevent problems, keep an eye on the snow accumulation around the vents, and regularly remove snow and ice that builds up. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors in the home to alert you to the presence of the potentially deadly gas in your home.