How to Prepare Your Home for Another Florida WinterPublished on: November 6, 2014
As the seasons shift and the weather turns cooler, it’s important to winterize the house for peak performance and energy efficiency. Fortunately, winter in Florida is mild compared to other areas of the country, so you don’t have to worry about preparing for blizzard conditions or sub-zero temperatures. Still, you should follow this advice to help best prepare for another Florida winter.
Check on the Heating System
Fall is the ideal season to schedule annual preventative maintenance for the furnace or heat pump in preparation for cooler temperatures. Preventative maintenance includes checking the burners, tightening electrical connections, applying lubricant, checking system controls, cleaning the blower motor and checking for carbon monoxide leaks. A thorough onceover ensures all systems are go for winter.
In addition to formal maintenance, do a test run to make sure the system is functioning after months of hibernation. Set the thermostat to 80 degrees for testing purposes. Place your hand over a supply register and make sure the air feels nice and warm. Remember, if you have a heat pump, the air won’t be as hot as a furnace’s output.
While you’re taking steps to winterize the house, check the heating vents and make sure they’re not obstructed by rugs, curtains or furniture. Keeping all vents open and unobstructed is important for maintaining the right pressure balance.
Finally, if you have an oil or propane furnace, make sure the fuel storage tank is topped off and ready to go. If you have a natural gas furnace or electric heat pump, you don’t need to worry about having an on-site fuel supply.
Prepare the Plumbing System
In many climates, frozen and burst pipes account for some of the most expensive repairs in the home. While this isn’t a common occurrence in Florida, it’s still wise to insulate exposed plumbing for energy savings.
If the first six feet or so of plumbing coming from the water heater is exposed, insulate it to help the water heat up faster at the tap. It’s also worthwhile to insulate piping running through unoccupied spaces, such as the attic, crawl space or outside wall to reduce its exposure to cooler temperatures.
While it’s possible to add insulation to exterior finished walls, it’s usually more cost effective to focus on boosting insulation in the attic. This is considered a moderately difficult do-it-yourself task or you can hire a professional to complete the job for you.
You can add insulation to other areas as well to reduce air leaks, increase water heating efficiency and effectively winterize the house. First, install foam gaskets behind outlets and switch plates located on exterior walls.
Finally, install an insulating jacket on your home’s water heater to reduce standby heat loss. These jackets are available from your local home improvement store.
Seal Around Doors and Windows
These openings in your home’s envelope introduce plenty of opportunity for air to leak inside. To test how airtight a door is, shut it on a piece of paper. If you can pull the paper free without it tearing, the weatherstripping isn’t tight enough and air is escaping.
Fortunately, there’s an easy fix to this problem: simply replace the worn out weatherstripping. Take measurements and add 10 percent to ensure you buy enough of the replacement product. Remove the old weatherstripping and clean the surface to prepare it for a durable installation.
Windows are prone to leaking at the hinges, slides and between double hung panels. To test yours, light a candle or incense stick near the window. If the flame or smoke swirls and blows around, there’s a leak. Caulk is the solution here. Apply this flexible product to all stationary joints where air is leaking into your home.
Check the Roof and Gutters
Fall is a good time to ensure the roof and gutters are in good condition. Hiring a professional is the safest way to do this. The roofer should look for and replace missing or damaged shingles, check the condition of chimney flashing, and make sure the gutters are hanging securely in place.
For more tips to winterize the house, or for help finding a reliable HVAC contractor, search AirConditioningSouthEast.com.