Kurt Spoerle speak to spoerle

Kurt Spoerle - Realtor®
Office: (317) 566-2399
Cell: (317) 366-4000

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1.)  Check the furnace:  First, turn your furnace on now, to make sure it's even working before the coldest weather hits.  A strong, odd, short-lasting odor is natural when firing up the furnace in the fall; simply open windows to dissipate it.  But if the smell lasts a long time, shut down the unit and call a professional.

2.)  Reverse fans:  By reversing the direction of the blades from the summer operation, the fan will push warm air downward and force it to recirculate, keeping you more comfortable.  How will you know when the fan is ready for winter?  As you look up, the blades should be turning clockwise. 

3.)  Insulate yourself:  Regardless of the climate conditions you live in, in the U.S. you need a minimum of 12 inches of insulation in your attic.  Use this rule of thumb on whether you need to add insulation:  if you go into the attic and you can see the ceiling joists you know you don't have enough, because a ceiling joist is at most 10-11".  Also, if you're layering insulation atop other insulation, don't use the kind that has "kraft face" finish (ie: paper backing).  It acts as a vapor barrier and can lead to moisture & mold problems in the insulation. 

4.)  Get your ducts in a row:  A home with central heating can lose up to 60% of its heated air before that air reaches the vents if ductwork is not well-connected and insulated, or if it must travel through unheated spaces.  That's a huge amount of wasted money, not to mention a chilly home.  Ducts aren't always easy to see, but you can often find them exposed in the attic, basement, and crawlspaces.  Repair places where pipes are pinched, and fix gaps with a metal-backed tape. 

5.)  Chimney:  Call a professional chimney sweep, and ask for a Level 1 inspection.  During a Level 1 inspection, the professional examines the readily accessible portions of the chimney.  A chimney doesn't necessarily need to be swept every year, but it should at least be examined once a year.  Another tip:  buy a protective cap for your chimney, with a screen.  This is the single easiest protection against foreign objects, animals, and rain. 

6.)  Clean your gutters:  Once the leaves fall, remove them and other debris from your home's gutters so that winter's rain and melting snow can drain.  Clogged drains can form ice dams, in which water backs up, freezes and causes water to seep into the house.  Also make sure the downspouts are carrying water away from the home's foundation where it could cause flooding or other water damage.

7.)  Wrap pipes:  A burst pipe caused by a winter freeze is a nightmare.  Before freezing nights hit, make sure the water to your hose bibs is shut off inside your home via a turnoff valve, and that the lines are drained.  Next, look for pipes that aren't insulated, or that pass through unheated spaces.  Wrap them with pre-molded foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation, available at hardware stores. 

8.)  Check alarms:  This is a great time to check the operation, and change your batteries, on your home's smoke detectors.  Detectors should be replaced every 10 years.  Test them with a small bit of actual smoke, and not just by pressing the "test" button. 

9.)  Block leaks:  One of the best ways to winterize your home is to simply block obvious leaks around your house, both inside and out.  On a breezy day, walk around inside holding a lit incense stick to the most common drafty areas: recessed lighting, window and door frames, electrical outlets.  Caulk or apply tacky rope caulk to those drafty spots.  Outside, seal leaks with weather-resistant caulk.  For brick areas, use masonry sealer, which will better stand up to freezing and thawing. 

10.)  Face your windows:  Now is the time to take down the window screens and put up storm windows, which provide an extra layer of protection and warmth for the home.  Storm windows are particularly helpful if you have old, single-pane glass windows.  If you need new windows, budget to update them a few at a time.  In the meantime, buy a window insulator kit to imrpove efficiency. 

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