Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

September 28, 2012

Prepare homes for the demands of winter

TAHLEQUAH — As the remnants of summer linger, providing warm and sunny weather, it may seem hard to consider a fall home maintenance plan. With the first day of autumn in the rearview mirror, however, chilly temperatures and freezing precipitation are just around the bend.

Preparing the home to stand up to the harsh elements of winter is essential, and fixing potential issues ahead of time will save money and headaches.

“The first thing that they’ll need to do is check and replace air filters for HVAC units, particularly when they’re about to turn the heat on and so forth,” said Tahlequah Lumber Store Manager Bill Kissinger. “It’s a good time to check the flue pipes on wood stoves, and make sure birds haven’t put any nests in the top of the cap.”

Of course, maintaining sources of heat isn’t enough. Home owners will also want to keep the cold air out.

“You need to check your weather stripping around the doors to make sure you don’t have any wind going through the cracks, or heat escaping,” said Kissinger. “Sometimes there is some insulation or weather stripping that will fit across the bottom of the door. People might also look into expanding foam for severe drafts around windows and doors, but that’s an extreme situation.”

Kissinger also recommends setting a consistent air temperature within the home.

“Set your thermostats and try to leave them the same all of the time,” he said. “Some people like to get a programmable thermostat that will automatically maintain heat within the house. That way your heater won’t overwork and you’ll save energy. We’re all about saving energy.”

Clogged gutters and loose roof tiles can also cause problems around the home. Colorful autumn trees are beautiful, but falling foliage prevents proper drainage, and incessant build up on roofs can destroy tiles, leading to major leaks. A full home inspection will cover all bases and, while fairly costly – between $240-$400 – will prevent an even more expensive problem.

Of course, heating the home is the most obvious necessity of winter, and there are several elements to ensuring efficiency and safety.

“I would recommend that people have their gas furnaces checked because of carbon monoxide,” said Adams Heating and Air Owner Ron Adams. “Also, they may get themselves a carbon monoxide detector. A lot of home improvement stores sell those. Of course, every one needs to keep their filter clean, as well. Make sure it is checked by a professional to see that you don’t have kind of fumes getting into the house.”

According to Adams, saving on the utility bill often comes down to common sense.

“The cooler you keep it in your house, the more you’ll save on your utility bill,” he said. “That’s a common sense thing there. The warmer you keep it, the more it’ll cost.”

While carbon dioxide exhaust is a concern related to the furnace, it doesn’t stop there.

“You want to make sure that the heat exchanger isn’t cracked and the heater is clean on the inside,” said Kinsey’s Heat Air Conditioning and Plumbing Owner Wayne Kinsey.

“That way, it doesn’t stop up any of the burners, because a lot of the older units start flaking rust. You want to make sure that everything is functioning properly so that you don’t emit carbon dioxide. It generally takes less than an hour to have this done.”

Kinsey said that the majority of programmable thermostats are battery powered, requiring owners to be cognizant of remaining battery life.

“You’ll want to keep an eye on your thermostat,” he said. “All of the new thermostats that we have now are programmable stats that have batteries in them. If the batteries die on you, it will actually keep the unit from kicking on. Anyone can change a thermostat battery. There’s an access door right there on the front of them.”

Finally, as the aphorism goes, pressure busts pipes – a problem that no one wants to encounter during the dead of winter.

Several precautions can prevent just such a scenario.


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