Properly winterizing your home and yard now can help avoid problems when temperatures drop. Mice nesting under air conditioner covers, higher energy bills and frozen water pipes are just some of the issues that can creep up this winter. Avoid these problems and more in the new year with advice from local experts.
Kathleen Szot, a communications specialist for NIPSCO, said a few simple steps now can help cut heating costs in the coming months.
“Look at your ceiling, caulking and insulation and look for opportunities to fill some leaky areas,” she said, noting that attics and basements tend to have the most leaks. A do-it-yourself guide is available through a link on the company’s website.
Visit nipsco.com/saveenergy or call (800) 4-NIPSCO for more tips on ways to save energy and to learn about in-home energy assessments, energy efficiency rebates and more.
Joe Yothment is the co-owner of Meyers Companies Inc. in Griffith, which offers services in plumbing, heating, cooling and electric.
He suggests a line of defenses to stop winter issues before they start. When it comes to plumbing, he said sealing cracks can help avoid frozen water lines.
“When wind can get into an attic or crawl space, that’s what causes frozen water lines,” he said.
A common service call when temperatures drop is a frozen sink line.
“The best trick to keep this from happening is a small stream of water on extremely cold days. If water’s moving, it’s less likely to freeze.”
Yothment suggests having the furnace checked annually, typically in fall, by a professional service technician. The technician will inspect for wear or dangerous situations, and oil and lubricate the system.
Yothment said he can’t stress enough how important it is to change furnace filters.
“Filter changing is one thing the homeowner can do,” he said, noting that clogged filters are his most common service call.
Indoor air quality is also important, he said. New apparatuses are available that can attach to the furnace and kill all airborne articulates and odors including viruses.
“With flu season coming, it’s a great option,” he said. “You’re spending all your time inside the house now. Here you have this opportunity to clean and scrub the air inside your house.”
Preparing the outside of your home for winter is also important. Yothment said to make sure garden hoses are taken off their outside hose bibs. Otherwise they will have to be replaced in the spring.
He also said there’s no need to cover your outside air conditioner unit, noting that the covers often do more harm than good. They can attract animals that nest inside and also hold rain and humidity, which can cause rust.
Nate Kremke, the maintenance division supervisor and lawn care specialist at Ricci’s Landscape Management Inc. in Hebron, suggests keeping the leaves cleaned off the lawn. Mowing the lawn at a height of about three inches also helps with cleaning leaves and debris and helps prevent different fungi and mold that develop in winter.
Dethatching and aerating the lawn between late September and early October helps grow a lush lawn the following summer. Aerating improves the growth of roots and allows for more air movement in the soil and better water retention and root growth.
Kremke also suggests a fertilizer application to help roots thrive over winter and a blanket herbicide application. These steps will help grow beautiful green grass in the spring.
It’s also important to have irrigation systems blown out before freezing temperatures arrive. Professionals are able to use an air compressor to apply appropriate pressure to get all the water out of the lines.