7 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Family cuddling and playing next to snowy window.

Fall is finally here, and with it comes apple cider, changing leaves, and sweater weather. While it can be tempting to spend the entire season cuddled up on the couch watching scary movies in preparation for Halloween or trying new seasonal recipes, make sure you set aside some time to prepare your home for cooler weather!

Why is boiler maintenance important?

If you have an oil boiler, regular maintenance is essential. Without it, cleaning a very dirty system can take significantly more hours to clean, and it can be quite expensive. When oil boilers aren’t kept up, they can get so dirty that they essentially blow. They blow a puff of soot all over your house—releasing tiny micro pieces of oil that can settle like dust on every service. This soot is harmful to your indoor air quality and can travel up the basement stairs to your living room, and can require a home cleaning emergency service to get your system back up and running.

Regular maintenance is essential to keep your system operating smoothly all winter long. Maintenance checks on your boiler can help your technician catch small issues early, saving you from big trouble down the line (you don’t want your heat going on out in the middle of winter!). The boiler runs the most efficient the day after it’s cleaned, which means a clean system can save money on fuel. Long story short: you’ll actually save money getting your boiler cleaned every year!

How often do I need maintenance?

You should schedule annual maintenance for your major systems once a year. If you use central air conditioning and a heating system, each system will need to be checked once per year—typically a few months before you plan to start using your system. If you use a heat pump, you’ll typically want to have your system inspected twice a year (or once every six months).

Pine State Services also likes to do annual service in the middle of the cold season—when the boilers and heating systems are working all day and all night. All this overtime work can stress out your system’s components. A little love at this time goes a long way.

Don’t wait until you need to use your boiler or heating system to schedule maintenance—the heating season is one of the busiest times of the year for heating companies, which usually spend a lot of time during the cold season responding to heating emergency calls. This can mean long lines and a cold home while waiting for your appointment. Save money and live more comfortably by planning accordingly and scheduling your service on your heater earlier in the fall!

Should I replace my heating system?

We hear this question all the time. “How do I know when it’s time to replace my heating system?” The truth is, the answer can differ for everyone. There are many factors that go into the decision to replace a unit: how much money you send on repairs, the efficiency of your heating system, and the frequency of repairs all impact the cost-efficiency of your system.

Keep an eye out for these warning signs of heating system failure:

  • High utility bills

  • Frequent repairs

  • Uneven temperatures

  • Lack of warm air

These signs are all major indicators that it may be time to replace your heating system. A good rule of thumb for deciding whether it’s best to repair or replace your heater is how much money you’re spending on the repairs for your system. Once the cost of the repairs equals more than half of the cost of a replacement, it’s likely more energy and cost-efficient to replace your system altogether.

4 Tips to Heat your Home Efficiently

Keeping your home comfortable this season can seem as simple as turning on the heat, but in reality, there are many ways that you can heat your home while reducing your energy costs.

Invest in a Smart Thermostat

A smart or wifi thermostat works to ensure your heat isn’t interrupted if you have a seasonal home or are traveling during the winter season. Always keep your home at a minimum temperature of 55° F to prevent your baseboard piping or exposed plumbing from freezing!

Switch Your Fan

Did you know your fan runs both clockwise and counterclockwise? Make sure your fan is running clockwise during the cooler months—since warm air rises, your fan will push the air up and recirculate the heat back down to the lower living spaces.

Let the Light In

Open the curtains during the day to allow the sun to warm your home up naturally! Just make sure you’ve fixed any drafty windows before doing so.

Update your Heating System

Sometimes the most efficient way to heat your home is simply by updating your existing heating system or boiler to a more efficient system.

What’s the most efficient heating system?

Many resources will tell you that geothermal heating is the most energy-efficient system available to homeowners. While this is technically true, it doesn’t account for the fact that a geothermal system comes at a majorly inefficient cost.

For practical heating, a heat pump is one of the more efficient methods of heating your home—though it works better for specific areas or zones as opposed to your whole house. For heating your entire home at the same level, a traditional heating system (such as a boiler or HVAC system) could be the best choice for you.

How to Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing

Freezing temperature affects more than the comfort of your family—they can also bring devastation to your plumbing. Since water expands as it freezes, water that freezing inside your pipes can crack or burst the pipe, which leads to water damage and other major issues when the pipes thaw out.

Taking the time to prepare your plumbing for freezing weather can prevent unnecessary and expensive water damage to your home. Follow these tips to properly prepare your plumbing for winter:

  1. Locate any external pipes or plumbing that are in areas exposed to the cold. Some areas you’ll find these pipes could be in basements or crawlspaces, outside your home, and under kitchen or bathroom sinks. Insulate these areas by blocking vents that lead outside with something durable such as wood or cardboard.

  2. Invest in plumbing insulation for these exposed pipes—foam insulation sleeves can be bought at any hardware store or online, and slipping them over your pipes is as straightforward as it seems.

  3. Make sure all visible cracks or openings in walls, ceilings, floors, etc. are sealed using a caulking gun or spray foam.

  4. Drain and remove all exterior hoses before freezing temperatures cause the water in them to freeze. Neatly roll and store these away for the season.

  5. Allow a small amount of water to drip from exterior faucets and sinks that aren’t near a heating source. This will allow water to move throughout your plumbing, which makes it harder for it to freeze.

After following these steps, you can also invest in a freeze detection sensor or low temperature alarm—these devices will help you keep tabs on how your home is heated to help prevent pipes from freezing.

Call Us for Comprehensive Home Services in Portland

Whether you want to replace your oil-burning heating system with a more eco-friendly heating solution or you just need to schedule your annual maintenance before the winter chill hits, Pine State Services has the expertise to set you (and your home) up for comfort all winter long. Call (207) 747-1210 or schedule your service online today!

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