furnace filters

Get Your Home Ready for Winter

 

Start getting ready for winter by raking leaves and showing your home some love!

Start getting ready for winter by raking leaves and showing your home some love!

It’s been a stunning fall so far but we know what winter will bring! Not only do we need to get out our winter coats, gloves, warm clothes, and shovels, but we need to get our homes ready for winter, too. At RDS, your home design specialists, we’ve been discussing what we need to do to our homes this fall so that we aren’t caught off guard when cold weather really arrives. 

Download our Winter Ready Checklist here. Use this handy checklist to make sure you’ve done everything you can to have your home ready for winter.

What should you be doing to get your home ready for winter?

Furnace:

One of our first Front Porch Friday videos was all about furnace filters. View it here for everything you need to know about them. It’s important to get your furnace serviced, the filter changed, and tested for any leaks.  A yearly furnace checkup could save you from a really cold night. 

Clean Up:

The leaves are falling and we’re busy raking. (Make sure to mow or mulch some of them into your lawn to give it some much-needed nutrients.) But don’t forget to clean out the gutters once the leaves are down in order to prevent overflowing gutters when it rains or ice build-up when it’s cold. 

To avoid a slippery scenario, keep leaves cleared off walkways, the driveway, and decks.

Is your chimney clean? If it hasn’t been cleaned in a while, especially if it is wood burning, now is the time. Experts suggest having them inspected yearly.

Cover outdoor furniture or move it indoors after cleaning it.

Take soil out of the pots that you keep outside or bring them inside. The soil can freeze, expand, and crack your pots.

Do you need to trim branches from trees and bushes that could be affected by wind, snow, and ice? This is especially important if they are near your home. Wait until they are dormant to trim them so that you don’t hurt the plants. 

A Little Prevention:

Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and check your fire extinguishers (the pressure gauge needle should be in the green area). 

Do your flashlights need new batteries? Be prepared! It’s going to be dark longer so you’ll want plenty of working batteries in case of a power outage. 

Take a hard look at your fireplaces, furnace, and any other types of heaters you use. Is the area around them clear and free of anything flammable?

Reverse the blade flow of your ceiling fans so they run clockwise, creating an updraft and pushing the heated air down into your rooms.

Disconnect outdoor hoses and store them in the basement, shed, or garage. Drain the outdoor faucets and cover them with hose bib covers. Don’t forget to have your lawn irrigation system winterized.

If your roof and shingles are older, have them inspected for cracks, leaks, and damage to flashing seals around chimneys and vent stacks.

 

Winter will be here before we know it, but now you know what to do. So get out those warm, snuggly blankets, find your slippers, and heat up the hot chocolate. And if you’re ready to design a new home or remodel part of your existing home, we’d love to create it for you. 

It’s All About the Filters!

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We all have them and it’s one of those things we might just forget about. But we shouldn’t. Just what does the furnace filter do for our homes and why is it so important to change them? Our Front Porch Friday video discussed just that. At RDS, we know how important and necessary our furnace filters are to our homes, but do you know everything you need to know about these filtration devices?

What Does the Filter Do?

  • The main purpose is to protect the blower fan from dust and debris pulled in from the return duct.
  • The filter keeps the quality of the air you are breathing in cleaner.
  • It helps remove allergens from the air, which can, in turn, help your allergies.

 Why Do I Need to Replace or Clean It?

  • A clean filter promotes proper airflow.
  • Replacing the filter helps to maintain and extend the life of your furnace.
  • It helps reduce your monthly gas or electric bill because the furnace doesn’t have to work harder or longer.

 How Often Should It be Replaced?

  • The longer you go between replacements, the harder your furnace will have to work, so you need to know your furnace’s requirements. 
  • Every furnace is different, as is how it is being used in your homes, so it might take some trial and error to get the right balance of efficiency and cost for you.
  • This is dependent on the type of furnace you have, but twice a year at the very minimum. Most furnaces will need to have filters replaced every 30 - 90 days.
  • Inexpensive filters should be replaced monthly, but more often if you have pets or smokers.
  • Some furnace manufacturers suggest replacing the filter every 3 months, but it is important to check the filter monthly for blockage or build up.
  • An electrostatic filter, the type that is cleaned by removing it and running it through a cycle in the dishwasher, should be cleaned according to the owner’s manual.
  • If you don’t replace your high-efficiency filter when needed, it might end up costing you money!

 I Don’t Know What Size Filter or Kind I Have…Help!

  • Check for the size and kind on the side of your existing filter, or take the filter to a home improvement store and they can help you.
  • Not all filters can be purchased in a home improvement store, but can be found online or purchased through your furnace professional.
  • Not all filters are created equal and come in many styles, sizes, ratings, and price points:
  1. Filter Efficiency Ratings range from 1-16 (the MERV rating) with 8-11 very adequate for most homes. If you don’t see a MERV rating number, just remember that usually the higher the number rating assigned to your filter, the better filtration it has. Surprisingly, the highest rating and expensive filter might not always be the best choice.
  2. Some common styles include disposable fiberglass, disposable pleated (a popular option), disposable electrostatic, permanent electrostatic, and high-efficiency pleated.
  3. Filter thickness ranges from 1”- 4” and size varies with the type of furnace.

 What Else Should I Know? 

  • If you have severe allergy issues, you might want to get your vents professionally cleaned and then change the filters regularly.
  • Turn your furnace off when replacing the filter or working on your furnace.
  • If you notice dust and hair around the filter opening, vacuum it.
  • If your system gets heavy use in the summer and winter, you might need to replace the filters with more frequency.
  • Have your system checked yearly by a licensed professional. They will make sure the system is working properly, no gases are escaping, connections are secure, and you won’t wake up to a cold house one morning.
  • Keep the space around your furnace and all air returns clear of clutter, boxes, and furniture. This will help your furnace not only work more efficiently but keep you safer, reducing any risk of a house fire. 

 Check out our Front Porch Friday video here for Replacing Furnace Filters