Chi-seberia. The newest term used to describe the Chicagoland area as we experience the coldest temperatures since cold temperatures were recorded. We knew the cold was coming. The news outlets have told us – repeatedly – how bitter the cold would be, giving people time to prepare. The question becomes, how many people listened? And more importantly, how many people KNEW what actions to take? Here is a simple list of tips you can take to prepare your home *quickly* for the winter weather:
1) Avoid the frozen pipe catastrophe. Water lines that run along an exterior wall, or over a garage, are prone to freezing. Turning the faucet on to a fast, steady drip, or low stream of water, is enough to keep the water running through the pipes. Running water doesn’t freeze. Opening sink cabinets allows the warmer air in the room to circulate, and helps keep the pipes from freezing as well.
2) Close blinds and draperies. This will minimize the window drafts and the cold of the glass from chilling the air in the room. Older windows, or poorly made ones, should be sealed. Hardware stores sell plastic that can be attached to the windows, usually with tape or a heat activated seal
3) Keep garage doors closed, especially if there is finished living space above the garage.
4) Keep exterior doors tightly closed, even if you have a storm door attached.
5) Check exterior doors for drafts. Add some weatherstripping to improve the seal. A rug, rolled towels, or even a door seal “buddy” can be placed at the bottom to stop the draft.
6) Reverse your ceiling fans. During the winter you want the hot air pushed down, reversing the switch on the motor housing creates an updraft that will do that. Just remember to switch it back for the summer months, when you want the hot air pulled up.
7) Be very careful when using space heaters. Most winter house fires are caused by careless use of these heating devices. Firefighters have a near-impossible task to fight fires in sub-zero temperatures, so the best course of action is to be sure that you minimize all risks.
These are all “quick-fixes”, useful in times like this. Don’t let them take the place of regular household maintenance – like servicing your furnace every fall to ensure it heats your house, having your roof routinely checked for loose shingles & worn spots, cleaning out gutters to help minimize ice damming, and keeping windows airtight.