Milwaukee, Wis., Nov. 18, 2010 –
Taking the time to prepare your home and car for cold weather can reduce heating costs, prevent damage and destruction of property or simply save headaches when ice and snow arrive, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises.
“Poorly maintained systems can create many problems, ranging from heating inefficiency to breakdowns and release of dangerous fumes,” said Randall Hoth, Wisconsin BBB president/CEO. “An annual investment in home winterization is money well-spent.”
While snowstorms may be fun for children, they also can cause serious disruption. Be prepared for blizzards, blackouts and other winter storm-related problems by keeping important supplies in one place.
An emergency kit should contain bottled water, a first aid kit, battery-operated radio, fresh batteries, candles, matches and non-perishable food. The BBB recommends assembling a similar kit for the car, complete with blankets, extra gloves, a shovel and salt or snow-melting chemicals.
Other items on the cold weather checklist: Furnace checkup and cleaning:
Clean or replace your furnace’s air filters. Have a professional check the furnace and ensure the thermostat and other parts are working properly. A typical home furnace reaches the end of its useful life after 15 years and may need repair or replacement. Consider insulating heating ducts:
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that a centrally-heated home can lose as much as 60 percent of warmed air before it reaches vents if the ductwork is poorly connected, not insulated, or if it travels through unheated spaces. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust and dirt from vents.Get a chimney checkup:
Before lighting the first fire of the season, your chimney should be checked for animals, nests, leaves and other debris, as well as for any necessary repairs. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors:
Homeowners should routinely test these devices to make sure they work and install fresh batteries as needed. Detector units should be replaced every 10 years. Clear gutters and ridge vents:
Clean gutters to prevent or remove any buildups that would cause rainwater to clog, freeze and damage gutters. Ridge vents should be cleared to allow the house to “breathe” properly to eliminate stagnant inside air. Close any attic vents or windows that would allow heated air to escape and cold air to seep in.Plug holes:
The average American home may have many small air leaks. Though they may not be large, they have a cumulative effect on home heating costs. Make sure windows close tightly. Check for leaks around them, and use caulking to plug the leaks. Inspect all weather stripping for cracks and peeling. In addition, consider applying insulating film to drafty windows, and install a tight-fitting fireplace door or cover to stop a day-long loss of heat through the chimney. Final preparations:
Test your snow blower to find out whether there is a problem now rather than waiting until a storm hits. Prepare your snow-clearing equipment, such as shovels, salt or other ice-melting products. Finally, don’t forget to drain outside faucets to prevent the pipes from freezing.
Check with the BBB before you do business with a company or charity by going to www.bbb.org
or by calling 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), 920-734-4352 (NE Wisconsin) or 800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin).