Preparing Your Home for Winter Storms

The first major winter storm has yet to strike the Hagerstown area, but one could pop up at any time. In January 2016, Winter Storm Jonas brought the city to a grinding halt, and you just never know when the next big storm could hit. As a homeowner, it’s crucial to get your home ready for the worst.

Here are a few tips from FEMA and Larry & Sons to help you get your home ready for snowstorms and extreme cold.

Preparing for Snowstorms and Extreme Cold

Preparing Your Home for Winter Storms
Need help preparing your Hagerstown home for winter storms? Give us a call!
  • Stock your emergency kit. Every home should have a general emergency kit. Add the following items to prepare for winter:
    • Rock salt to melt ice on stairs and walkways
    • Sand to improve tire traction if you get stuck
    • Snow removal equipment, including a shovel, snowblower, etc.
    • Adequate heating fuel
    • Extra blankets and clothing to keep you and your family warm in case of a heating outage
  • Make a family communication plan. Do you know how to reach everyone in your family if you aren’t all together when a warning is issued or disaster strikes? Create a family communications plan to make sure everyone knows how to get in contact and what to do in the event of a winter emergency.
  • Maintain your heating system. Check your furnace filters, and replace them if necessary. Have your heating system professionally inspected, and have any problems corrected before disaster strikes.
  • Invest in a generator. Winter storms can cause extended power outages. Investing in a standby generator is the best way to make sure that your family will be cozy and warm even if there is no power.
  • Get your vehicle ready. During the winter, it’s best to keep your vehicle ready to go for emergencies. Check your antifreeze levels, oil, air and fuel filters and windshield wiper equipment. Also, have a good set of winter tires installed, and keep your gas tank full.You should also update your vehicle’s emergency kit and make sure you have:
    • A shovel
    • Flashlight
    • Battery-operated radio
    • Ice scraper
    • Bottled water
    • Snack food
    • Batteries
    • Hats, mittens and gloves
    • Blankets
    • Sand
    • First aid kit
    • Necessary medications
    • Flares
    • Jumper cables
    • Tow rope/chain
  • Insulate your pipes. Insulate your pipes – especially those that run through basements and attics – to prevent them from freezing and bursting during extreme cold.

Winter Home Preparation

If you need help with winter home preparation, Larry & Sons can help. From standard maintenance to full system replacement and everything in between, we can help make sure your home is ready to handle anything Old Man Winter throws our way. To schedule service, contact us today by calling 301-733-5428.

Getting Your Furnace Ready for Winter

So far, we’ve been pretty lucky as far as temperatures go this year, but the fact remains that, sooner or later, those temperatures are going to plummet. If you haven’t already prepped your furnace for the upcoming winter months, now is the time to do it. In this part of the country, having a good heating system is crucial, and the last thing anyone wants is to be stuck with a broken furnace when winter’s chill really sets in. Avoid panic by making sure your furnace is in good working order before disaster strikes.

Preparing You Furnace for Winter

Clean Up

If you’ve stored anything near your furnace while it hasn’t been in use, remove it. Also, make sure there isn’t anything on top of or in front of your air ducts or return vents as obstructions could prevent proper air flow and efficient heating.

Replace your furnace filter, and clean dust and debris from vents and burners.

If you have a chimney, inspect it, and remove any debris or bird nests. If it hasn’t been professionally inspected recently, consider calling in an expert to ensure that it is in good condition.

Test Your Thermostat

A thermostat that isn’t working properly can cause major headaches. To test it, simply turn it on and see how it responds. If you have an older thermostat, consider replacing it, even if it’s working fine. Modern thermostats are more efficient. If you opt for a programmable thermostat, you can set it to automatically lower the temperature when you’re away or sleeping, saving you a considerable amount on your heating bills.

Schedule Maintenance and Repairs Now

Whether you need a helping hand with routine maintenance or you suspect an issue with your furnace, don’t wait until the last second to schedule service. The beginning winter is one of the busiest times of year for , and you don’t want to be left in the cold if your heating system fails.

If you are in need of furnace repair, maintenance or even an inspection just to make sure everything is up to par, don’t delay; contact Larry & Sons now for reliable Hagerstown heating repair, installation and replacement. Call 301-733-5428 today!

Williamsport Heating Maintenance Tip: Electric Furnaces

Electric heat is clean – but Williamsport homeowners pay for that cleanliness with high utility bills. Depending on the area of the country, electric bills can rival those of gas, oil, or propane. So it is only natural to assume that an efficiently running electric furnace is a must for homeowners who are looking to keep their energy costs down.

Electric furnaces are fairly simple machines. They use heating elements to warm the air, which is then distributed through the ventilation system via a fan or blower. The heating element is made up of a metal wire that is heated by normal electrical current. The element is used to warm or heat something, much like the function of an oven or toaster. Their operation is fairly simple – either they work or they don’t.

When a heating element fails it is usually because it is broken, bend, or misshapen. When that happens, it is time to replace it. You can do some preventive maintenance with a visual inspection of your heating elements. If your inspection does not reveal any problems, you can test the element for continuity. You should know how to use an ohmmeter to test it or ask a professional heating and cooling technician to check the elements for you.

Speaking of visual inspection, you can do a quick check for any frayed or damaged wires, which can be a source for wasted electricity, too. Another way to ensure that your electric furnace is running efficiently is to replace or clean your furnace filters on a regular basis. A clogged filter can make a furnace work harder and lead to premature mechanical failure.

And obviously, if the furnace is not working it is best to check for any blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers in the main electrical panel box. If you find one, make sure you replace it with another of the correct amperage.

Lastly, check to make sure the blower motor is operating correctly. You can have perfectly working elements but if the blower can’t push the warm air through your ventilation system, then all of the steps to ensure the electricity is working are for naught. You can usually hear a noisy motor or smell one that isn’t working improperly. Check it on a regular basis and check the fan belt for any damage or slippage, too.

As you have read, an electric furnace is a very simple machine with simple working parts. Maintaining it is just as simple. If you haven’t had your annual furnace maintenance, give Larry & Sons a call today!

How to Get My Furnace Ready for Winter: A Tip from a Greencastle Contractor

Being cold in the winter is normal – as long as you are outside. But you shouldn’t be cold inside your Greencastle home. If that happens, the first place to look to is your furnace, which may not be working correctly. Furnaces are like any other piece of mechanical equipment. They need to be maintained and serviced on a regular basis to ensure they are working at peak efficiency and warming your entire home at your desired comfort level.

First of all, check and see when you last had your furnace serviced. If it has been over one year ago, you should schedule a maintenance inspection from your local qualified heating and cooling professional. And when you make that appointment, ask about service agreements and getting on a regular maintenance schedule. Most heating and cooling contractors offer service agreement plans which include furnace and air conditioning check-ups on an annual basis.

Okay, so you know who to call for maintenance but what can you do yourself? First of all, give your furnace a little “help” by checking the vents and returns throughout the house. Ensure that there are no obstructions or blockages such as rugs, clothing, furniture, etc. You need to have unobstructed paths for your heated and return air to flow. The more congested the path, the harder your furnace will have to work. And while you’re at it, make sure your vents are open or closed, depending on how much you use your rooms. For example, if you have an extra bedroom that doesn’t need to be heated, closed off the vent or close the damper in the ductwork. The heated air will be diverted to other parts of your home where it is needed.

Another maintenance function that you can perform is cleaning or replacing the furnace filter. Depending on the size of your home and its air quality (occupants, pets, etc.), you may want to clean or replace your air filter every one to three months. A dirty filter can restrict airflow and can put contaminants like dirt and dust right back into your air system. If you don’t know how to replace your air filter, consult the furnace owner’s manual or go online to learn more. If your furnace uses an electrostatic air filter, it will need to be removed and cleaned, either by using a hose or with soapy water and a hose. Make sure you let it dry before re-installing it.

You may also want to inspect any electrical wires around your furnace to ensure none are broken or frayed. A visual inspection should be good enough.

Once you have done what you can, let your Greencastle heating and cooling professional take over from there. They are licensed and trained to inspect your furnace and ensure that it is in peak operating condition.