Now that you’ve done some weatherstripping and inspected your pipes for colder weather durability, the furnace, fireplace, roof and smoke/carbon detectors deserve some attention.
Clean the Furnace
You should have your furnace inspected by a professional once a year. There are some signs that you should have a furnace inspected sooner, such as noisy belts, poor performance or erratic behavior. A furnace that is not properly maintained can be less the 50 percent efficient. Here are some things you can do on your own to keep your furnace in tip-top shape.
- Check the pilot light. If it is out, relight it. Look for the instructions on relighting on the access doors or manufacturer’s website.
- Move all materials and objects away from the furnace to avoid a fire.
- Change the filters monthly when the furnace is in use. If an air filter is dirty, it will clog the airflow and overwork the equipment. There are different filters on the market and some are more efficient than others.
- Check the blower. Vacuum out any dust and debris in and around the unit.
- Vacuum all the dust from the vents around the house.
- Remove any furniture, rugs, curtains, etc. that may be blocking the air from flowing freely.
A certified chimney sweep should check and clean your wood-burning fireplace at least once a year to inspect your masonry, flue liner, chimney cap, and venting system to make sure everything’s clean, clear, and up to code.
- Check to see if the smoke exits as it should vertically into the chimney and not into the room.
- Check for other debris in the chimney like bird or animal nests.
- Install a cap/screen at the top of the chimney that will keep out birds, bird nests, or other rodents.
- Make sure the damper opens and closes tightly.
- If the metal grate is cracked or sagging, replace it.
- Clean ash from the fireplace whenever it reaches the bottom of the grate. Wear a dust mask and gloves when you are cleaning.
- Replace any ripped or damaged screens or mesh.
- If you notice creosote and soot build-up over 1/8-inch on the inside of the chimney, have it cleaned immediately and before you burn a new fire.
- Burn hardwoods, not softwoods. Hardwoods are denser and heavier and deliver more heat.
- Don’t burn more than three logs at a time. If heat saturation increases, it could ignite combustible materials nearby the fireplace.
Inspect the Gutters and Roof
It’s time to jump on the roof and remove any debris that has accumulated. Or, you can hire a qualified contractor. The roof should be inspected annually. A soft bristled broom will prevent any damage to your shingles. The gutters need to be cleaned as well. You can use a small handle tool to get rid of smaller debris. In addition, clean the downspouts. Check to see if the downspouts or gutters need any repairs. If you take the time to clean your roof and gutters, you can prevent extensive water damage that could cause a leak through the roof.
- Check flashings on the roof. Flashings are strip of metal used to stop water from penetrating the junction of a roof with another surface. These cover interruptions in a roof such as dormers, chimneys and vent pipes.
- If you see any asphalt granules in the gutters, this is a sign that the roofing materials are aging.
- If your roof has wooden shake or shingles, look for signs of dry rot or warpage.
- If you have a metal roof, look for signs of pitting, rusting and corrosion that can be the natural results of aging.
- If you have slate, clay tile, and asbestos cement shingles check for broken, chipped or missing pieces.
Test Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are lifesavers and should be properly inspected and maintained.
- Batteries should be replaced at least twice a year. Buy extra batteries.
- Use the alarms test button to test the device. The test button only checks the battery.
- To test to see if the smoke detector works properly, purchase a spray can of smoke detector test aerosol. Then, wait 5 to 10 seconds for a response.
- Clean detectors with the extension tube on your vacuum cleaner to suck out any dust that may be blocking the openings.
- Replace detectors every ten years.
- There should be a smoke detector in every room.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and/or water heater.