TRIB TOTAL MEDIA SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2018 · 7
We are only a few days into fall,
but Mother Nature’s change of our
environment is just around the
Fall is the time to get the winter
The sad news is that even if your
personal preparation for cold
weather is packing the car and heading
south, your home still needs
preparation for freezing weather.
One of the first members of the
team should be a good furnace
company that will service “no-heat”
calls for their regular customers. The
most important part of that sentence
is the “regular customer” part.
You do not want your first contact
with a furnace company to begin
with the sentence: ”You don’t know
me, but I don’t have any heat.”
The story here is to call a reputable
company, have them service
the furnace for winter and become
a part of their customer list. Your
bonus is that with proper service
and adjustment, fuel costs go down
and the safety and life expectancy of
a furnace go up.
If you have a fireplace you plan
to use, have it cleaned and checked
with a camera system before you
There will be house fires started
with fireplace use and you do not
want the picture of your burning
home to be on the 11 o’clock news.
Find a “house buddy” for your
cold-weather team. This can be a
friend, relative or neighbor. It’s a
simple concept. You are away from
home on a winter vacation, and
the power goes off. You want your
house looked in on. You call your
house buddy, and they make sure
everything is ok, or they call in the
cavalry. You do the same for them.
With today’s digital doorknobs,
you don’t even need to swap keys.
The door combination is all that is
Set up a winter
You know the basics. Purchase
enough bottled water to last a
couple of days. At the same time,
pick up some nonperishable food.
If it is canned, add a can opener to
Most of the old winter preparation
lists suggest candles and matches.
Modern technology has made that
an unnecessary fire risk. We own a
fair number of LED lanterns and
flashlights for emergencies. As a
bonus, the LED lights last longer
Have a method ready to check
what is going on in the world. A
backup battery unit to recharge
your cellphone in a power outage is
essential. Facebook and other social
media on your smartphone can be a
life saver. The unit I use can recharge
my cellphone three times. Even if I
never need it in a natural disaster, it
is great for a day at the airport.
Install smoke detectors in every
level of your home and in each
bedroom. If you have any fossil-fuel
appliances, have carbon monoxide
detectors in the home. Test each device
for operation, and install fresh
batteries before winter.
If you have crawl spaces or are
away from home for vacation,
consider a freeze alarm that can call
your cellphone and warn you before
your house freezes.
Take a look at
I am not referring to any emotional
ties. You are used to “cleaning
gutters” being on the winter
preparation list. What you need to
add is checking that the gutters and
downspouts are tightly secured to
the home. Ice-loaded gutters can
cause injury or damage when they
At the same time you are checking
your gutters, check decks and
porches for proper attachment to
the house. In the course of inspecting
homes, I often would find loose
gutters, porches and decks.
Check your trees near your house
and power lines. A falling tree or
even a tree limb can damage your
home or leave you without power.
Add snow and ice to a dead limb,
and it can be downright dangerous.
The forgotten steps
Check your clothes dryer vents.
Lint-packed vents can be a fire
hazard. With newer dryers, partially
blocked vents also can cause damage
to the dryer. How do I know? I
forgot that one last year, and it cost
me a new heating element for our
clothes dryer. You might want to
learn from my $200 oversight.
• Clean the leaves. This isn’t just
about the gutters. Blocked gutters
and downspouts can cause backups
and damage to walls.
• Leaves on decks, concrete and
siding can cause staining and rot.
Clean these up, too.
• Remove garden hoses. Attached
hoses can burst the pipes they are
• Look at the roof and flashings. If
repairs are needed, do them before
the roof is covered with snow.
• Stock up on bagged salt or sand.
Where to seal
and vent your home
There are some great ways to save
energy and increase home comfort.
Plastic to cover windows, foam gaskets
for exterior outlets and switches
and reducing heat to unused areas
of a home are all great ideas.
There are some other commonly
done items that are not so good. Do
not block vents for the attic or crawl
spaces. This traps moisture in the
home, which can start the growth of
mold. High moisture also reduces
the insulation properties of most
Energy savings where it makes
sense is great. Creating moisture and
mold problems is not a good idea.
Let’s hope for a month or two of
beautiful fall days before the snow
flies. There needs to be time to enjoy
the trees sporting the beauty of fall
colors and get the fall list done.
For more information and links,
go to envirospect.info/WinterPrep.
Dan Howard is the owner of
Envirospect. For environmental
consultation, call 724-443-6653.
Email questions to DanielJHowardJr@
gmail.com, and follow him on Facebook
or via Twitter @DanHoward251.
Prepare your home for the change in weather
For Trib ToTal Media
Have a reputable furnace company service your furnace for winter.