6 Essential Home Improvement Projects for Fall

Our Wisconsin winters come on suddenly and without warning. Take advantage of mild temperatures to fortify your home against the icy conditions that are most certainly right around the corner.

Here are six easy projects that will cut your heating costs and preserve your comfort.

Seal Windows/Doors

Inefficient windows and doors waste as much as 30 percent of your heating efforts. If upgrading to energy-efficient windows isn’t in the budget, do what you can to minimize heat loss.

  • Use weatherstripping or caulking to seal gaps in windows

  • Install door sweeps to prevent drafts

  • Hang insulated curtains

Schedule a Tune-Up

A professional maintenance inspection will ensure your furnace is up to the task of getting you warmly through our frigid Wisconsin winter. During a tune-up, an HVAC technician will examine all of the elements of your heating unit to make sure they’re running efficiently and safely, as well as mank any needed adjustments. This will improve your furnace’s functionality and extend its lifespan.

However, if your system is between 15 and 20 years, pushing it through another season may prove risky. If your heating system has broken down in recent years or if it isn’t heating like it used to, consider replacing it. Today’s furnaces are significantly more efficient, operating with annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) of 95 percent. Older generation models tend to be around 80% and have degraded over the years.

Upgrade to a Smart Thermostat

If you’re serious about reigning in your heating costs this winter, upgrade to a smart thermostat. Wifi-connected thermostats can slash your annual heating and cooling expenses by as much as $145 a year.

These devices are also more convenient. They synch with your smartphone to learn your daily patterns, adjusting to an economical setting while you’re away and again to your preferred setpoint shortly before returning. You can also control the temperature remotely from your mobile device, a feature that’s handy if, say, you want to make sure houseguests are comfortable while you’re out.

Clear Sump Pump Discharge Piping

Your sump pump is going to get a workout this fall with the heavy rains and again during spring when it diverts snowmelt away from your home. Make sure the drain discharge pipe is free of obstructions so that the sump pump can perform this critical function.

  • Remove the screen at the end of the drain pipe and rinse off any debris

  • Check the pipe for blockages (dirt, leaves, debris, etc.)

  • Unplug the sump pump or turn off the breaker at the panel

  • Remove the water in the sump pump using a wet/dry vac

  • Remove the sump pump from the pit being careful not to lift the appliance by the float switch or power cord

  • Using a high-pressure nozzle on a garden hose, spray water down the pipe to rinse away debris

  • Set the pipe back into the pit and reconnect the power

Winterize Outside Faucets

Any water left inside hose spigots and exterior faucets will freeze and do major damage come winter. Follow these steps to winterize them:

  • Disconnect hoses and splitters and drain them for winter storage

  • Locate the indoor shut-off valves for all exterior faucets and cut off the water by turning the valve in a counterclockwise direction completely

  • Turn on outdoor faucets to drain any remaining water and leave the faucet handle turned on throughout the winter

  • Place insulated covers over outdoor faucets

Install Whole-Home Humidification System

Frigid temperatures sap moisture from the air, leading to dry skin, chapped lips, and sinus infections. A whole-house humidifier works in conjunction with your central heating system to bring humidity levels back into balance throughout your home. A whole-house humidity system not only prevents common seasonal illnesses, but it also preserves your wood floors and cabinets which dry conditions can damage.

For all of your plumbing and heating needs this fall and winter, turn to the pros at Southport Home Services. To schedule your appointment, call (262) 383-4040.