[This article was first published October 2016 and has been revised and expanded.]
Winter is here and for homeowners it's also time to get your house ready for the cold weather, snow, and rain. And this includes winter junk removal.
No one likes to work outdoors in winter, but preparing now is better than suffering later.
Preparing for Winter Often Means Getting Rid of Junk
It may be only December, but many parts of the country have already had their first major storms and even record snowfall. Winter is now officially upon us and the weather will be taking a toll on homes and energy bills.
If you haven't done so already, you probably know that there are a number of things that should be done around the house to get ready before the cold (and wet!) weather settles in.
One insurance website suggests a list of 10 "must do" tasks for prepping your home for winter:
- Check your furnace
- Inspect your roof
- Fill gaps around windows and doors
- Test your sump pump
- Inspect your fireplace and chimney
- Clean your gutters
- Store your outdoor furniture
- Switch your ceiling fan direction
- Turn off outside faucets
- Get your winter weather supplies
There are some items here that don't apply to your home and there may be other "to do" items for your home that are not on this list. But planning ahead, creating a comprehensive checklist, and ensuring that your home is as safe and snug as possible is the key to an enjoyable winter season.
Get Your Home Ready for the Winter Weather
Even if you are still enjoying relatively warm weather now, the worst of winter weather is just around the corner for most folks. And, unless you live in San Diego or Phoenix, you'll benefit by preparing for the cold and damp sooner than later.
So, with that in mind, here are some detailed tips for that essential winter weather preparation.
1. Clean Out Your Gutters
All the leaves and grime that have accumulated over the summer have built up in your gutters. If left full of debris, clogged gutters and drains can form ice dams that prevent your drainage systems from working properly. This can lead to water seeping into your home, which can lead to all sorts of issues and extra energy costs.
Save yourself the hassle of repairing a leak by simply cleaning your gutters and drains now. When you do, run water through the gutters to check for misalignments that could also cause water damage. Add extensions to downspouts so that water runs at least 3 to 4 feet away from the foundation. If your gutters are full of debris, water can back up against the house and damage roofing, siding and wood trim causing leaks and and even ice dams if it's cold enough.
You might pay anywhere from $70 to $225 to have someone clean your gutters on a single-story house, depending on its size. If you decide to do it yourself, also look for missing or damaged gutters and fascia boards and repair them.
2. Stop the Leaks and the Cold Air
It is a significant benefit for your energy savings if there are no air leaks in your home. Warm air will escape out of any cracks and can make your heating system work harder and cost you more to heat your home. One remedy is to add weather-stripping as needed around doors, making sure you cannot see any daylight from inside your home.
Use caulk to seal cracks and openings between stationary house components like a door frame and weather-stripping to seal components that move like an operable window. If the gaps between siding and window or door frames are bigger than half an inch, you should reapply exterior caulk. Check the joints in window and door frames, while you're at it. Silicone caulk is best for exterior use because it won’t shrink and it’s impervious to the elements.
3. Residential Furnaces Needs Upkeep, Too
Your furnace may have sat, unused, for months until now when it's time to turn it on. But, before the cold weather settles in and you have to use it regularly, it's smart to give it some attention. Clean your furnace each autumn since sediment build-up can cause your system to work less efficiently or potentially become a fire-hazard. Cleaning your system and getting it inspected will reduce the risks.
If you don't want to do it yourself, you can hire a pro. For a small investment, a technician will inspect your furnace or heat pump to be sure the system is clean and running properly, and that it can achieve its manufacturer-rated efficiency. The inspection also measures carbon-monoxide leakage.
During the winter you should also change your filter regularly since a dirty filter will decrease air flow and energy-efficiency. And if your furnace is ready to be replaced, consider buying an energy-efficient model. It will save you money and energy each month!
4. It Pays to Keep Your Ducts Clean and Tight
Your ducts are usually out of sight and mostly forgotten, tucked away in the attic or basement, but a home with central heating can lose about 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system. A sure sign that your air ducts need cleaning is if you are seeing dust on surfaces shortly after you just dusted and cleaned your house.
Your air is circulated 5 to 7 times per day through your ducts so it can easily disperse dust into your home regularly if not cleaned. Another sign the ducts need cleaning is dark lines under doors or around air ducts. Make sure your ducts are in order by properly sealing and insulating them.
It is estimated that 25 to 40 percent of residential energy costs are lost on heating according to the U. S. Department of Energy.
Debris and contaminants in your air ducts can cause your HVAC system to overwork and will also shorten its lifespan. In the winter season, you can definitely benefit from this added efficiency. In fact, properly sealed and insulated ducts can potentially reduce your annual energy bills by $120 or more!
5. Reverse the Direction on Your Ceiling Fans
This may seem like a simple thing, but it works. If your ceiling fan has a reverse switch, use it to run the fan's blades in a clockwise direction after you turn on your heat. Because warm air rises, the fan will produce an updraft and push down the heated air from the ceiling into the room.
This is especially helpful in rooms with high ceilings -- and it might even allow you to turn down your thermostat by a degree or two for greater energy savings.
6. Add Lights and Save Energy
The fall and winter months mean less daylight. OF course, we all want to save energy, but we don't want any falls while you carry in your groceries. Luckily, you can still use your outdoor lights without wasting money and energy.
Because outdoor lights are typically left on for long periods of time, buying ENERGY SAVER products and bulbs to light your outdoor pathways or porches can save a lot of energy.
A number of manufacturers make CFL and LED flood lights that can withstand snow and rain. As an extra energy-saving effort, look for ENERGY STAR products that come with automatic daylight shut-off and motion sensors.
Trim Dead Tree Limbs and Branches
This bonus tip is from Bob Vila:
When ice storms hit, trees branches encased with ice become extremely heavy. If those branches are dead or dying, there's a good chance they'll rip away from the tree and plummet to the ground causing damage to anything beneath—like your home or car. To avoid the danger, trim dead branches well before winter weather arrives.
Also, it doesn't hurt to get rid of any junk, trash, debris, or rubbish piling up outdoors in your yards or in your garage before the brunt of winter weather hits.
Early Winter Is Also a Good Time to Clear Out the Junk
Spring and summer can be quite busy and with all the activities, shopping, and then getting the kids back to school. You can often find that things have begun to pile up in the meantime. And this can often mean piles of unwanted clothes, furniture, and other junk. Maybe there's still debris piled up from your summer yard or remodel project.
Then fall comes with all its holidays and vacations. There can be little time for junk removal tasks but more junk can pile up in the meantime.
But no matter what the source, professional junk removal can be a life saver by helping you get rid of all that stuff before the cold and rain sets in.
The Right Junk Hauling Team for the Job
Once you decide to outsource the junk hauling part of your big cleaning project, you need to determine which firm is the right one for the job. And while you can certainly find plenty of guys with trucks willing to do the job, choosing that alternative may end up costing you more than you hoped to save.
This is why Junk King really is the firm of choice.
Junk King provides an efficient, safe and eco-friendly waste disposal service so you don’t need to worry about the pick up or disposal of the debris after your project is complete. Whether you need our services several times during a project or just once after it is complete, our hauling professionals will ensure that the debris is out of your way so that you can get on with the job.
Our team specializes in commercial and residential junk removal. We can be at your facility in mere minutes, so call us today! Our crew is fully insured and well-trained, so you can trust them to get rid of your unwanted items in a professional and courteous fashion.
One of the best things about hiring Junk King is that we recycle a much of the material we pick-up. This is proof of our commitment to being an eco-friendly removal service. If you have questions about what we do or what we believe, give us a call at (707) 744-4254.