Winter Maintenance and DIY
Raking all the leaves in the yard during fall can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, however it’s important to keep in mind that removing them is essential to the health of your lawn. A thick layer of leaves on your yard prevents it from absorbing air, nutrients, and sunlight. As it becomes difficult for air, water, sunlight, and nutrients to reach the lawn’s root system, a lawn may develop disease, cause flooding, or even attract pests. As the leaves rot, mold and fungus can fester and harm your lawn. In addition, the weight of the layer of leaves can prevent new grass from emerging next spring.
One possible unfortunate side effect of not raking the leaves on your lawn is fungus. One of the most common causes of lawn fungal disease is humid weather conditions and cool temperatures, so the fall has optimal conditions for fungus growth. A thick layer of leaves covering your lawn all autumn can create the perfect conditions for fungus to infect your lawn.
When a lawn is suffering from lawn fungal disease, there will be yellow, white, or brown spots on the lawn. Alternatively, dark, wet, slimy patches of grass are a sure sign that your lawn is not healthy. In the fall, dollar spots will be the most common type of fungal infection. Dollar spots are small, roughly silver dollar sized, discolorations in the grass. As the fungus spreads, these spots merge together forming large clumps of discolored grass. There are fungicides that can help eliminate an outbreak of lawn fungal disease, but the best measure really is prevention. Making sure the leaves in your lawn are raked is the first and most effective way to deter fungal growth in the fall.
In addition to fungus, a thick layer of leaves on your lawn can prevent water from heavy rains from draining properly. Flooding will cause your lawn to be over watered and suffer from lack of oxygen and shallow roots. Depending on the length and severity of the overwatering due to flooding, this can cause serious damage to your lawn.
Flooding can also have dire consequences for your belongings since a clogged up outdoor drain can cause flooding, particularly in the basement areas of your home. If left unchecked, this can destroy belongings, cause fungal growth, or even damage the home’s foundation. Along with proper raking and disposal of leaves in your lawn, be sure to check any drains around your yard and clear them of leaves.
A layer of leaves on the lawn for a long period of time can also attract a variety of lawn destroying pests. High concentrations of leaves are a great place for bugs and critters to hide out in and stay warm as it gets colder. In addition, once deprived of sunlight and nutrients grass becomes vulnerable to being overtaken by weeds. This damage can have lasting effects once the ground thaws and spring sets in. Luckily as soon as the winter sets in, pests are no longer a problem for your lawn, so you only have to worry about fighting them off for a short time! As usual with your lawn, proper maintenance at the right times of the year is sure to prevent big problems later on.
Don’t forget that removing the leaves gives your lawn one last chance to soak up the sun and warmth before the grey winter season.
Do-It-Yourself Furnace Repair
Here’s some tips and tricks to try if your furnace won’t start or kicks off.
WE ARE NOT PROFESSIONALS AND ONLY OFFER THIS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES. IF YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING, THEN CALL A PROFESSIONAL!
WHEN DOING ANYTHING WITH YOUR FURNACE ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOU TURN IT OFF FROM THE MAIN POWER OR BREAKER FIRST!
The last thing you want during the cold, winter months is furnace trouble. Heating issues not only make your home uncomfortable but also may lead to additional problems—not to mention that calling a repairman isn’t always in the budget. Whether your furnace isn’t turning on at the correct temperature, is shutting off at the wrong time, or is flashing with indicator lights, these tips will help keep your home warm and save you money.
- Furnaces are dangerous. Proceed with caution, and remember that there’s no shame in calling a professional.
Check The Thermostat
This should be your first step. Most thermostats are battery-powered, so be sure to change the batteries regularly to avoid issues. If the thermostat seems to be in working order, then the problem is most likely located in the furnace.
Restart The Furnace
It’s always worth it to try a simple restart. To restart your furnace:
- Switch the power to the furnace off.
- Remove the furnace cover.
- Turn the gas valve to the off
- Wait at least five minutes for all gas to clear out.
- Turn the gas to the on position, replace the cover, and turn the power back on.
Troubleshooting Other Furnace Issues
- Check the air filter
- A dirty air filter can interfere with a furnace’s functionality. If your air filter appears dirty, try replacing it with a new one.
- Check the vents
- Make sure none of your vents are blocked. Check for furniture, clothing, or other items that could have been moved, causing an accidental blockage.
- Check the safety switch
- Most furnaces have a safety switch that is pressed inward when the cover is on, kind of like the light in your refrigerator.
- If this switch isn’t pressed, the furnace won’t turn on. Check to ensure that the cover is pressing the switch fully.
- Check the igniter
- If you can smell gas, but there’s no flame, it could be an issue with your igniter.
- Remove the igniter, and check for a break or signs of corrosion. A replacement will cost somewhere around $40 (handle with care).
- Check the heat sensor
- To regulate temperature, your furnace uses a flame sensor (or thermocouple). Remove it and check for signs of corrosion.
- If the sensor is corroded, the temperature might be reading incorrectly. Use a piece of sandpaper to clean it.
- Always make sure the power and the gas are turned off before touching anything inside your furnace.
- Turn the thermostat all the way down, so it won’t kick on while you’re working.
- Some furnace control panels will have an LED light that will alert you of technical issues by blinking a code. Check with the manufacturer or search online to see what the code means.
How to Thaw Your Pipes
1. Open all faucets
Open all of your faucets to see if any water flows. If it does, run warm water through the pipes. This can help thaw a frozen spot in the pipes.
2. Locate the frozen spot
If no water flows, locate the most likely spots where pipes might freeze.
3. Heat the frozen spot
Open the faucets in the house. Use a hair dryer or a portable heater to warm the frozen spot. After a few minutes, water should flow freely.
If the above does not work, you can call the front office to rent a turbo heater for under you home.
How To Install Window Weatherstripping
When it comes to saving on utility bills and reducing discomfort during the winter months, weatherproofing your home is essential. Properly weatherized windows and doors can lower your utility bills by as much as 15%, but hiring a professional can cost a bundle. Fortunately, with some basic materials and a few helpful tips, you can protect your home against cold weather without breaking the bank. You should begin weatherizing your home with one of the most basic means of protection against the cold: weatherstripping your windows.
- Caulking (choose clear, paintable caulk for a cleaner look)
- Weatherstripping (foam or rubber)
- Rub rail caulking or removable weather stripping (such as Zip-A-Way)
- A window kit
- Check for leaks
- Check window exterior for any obvious leaks, paying close attention to areas around the edge of the trim
- Check window interior for leaks between the trim board and drywall
- Check for gaps around the edge of the interior window frame
- Check for gaps where the window slides against the trim board
- Fill the gaps
- Apply caulking to seal any leaks around the exterior and interior window frame
- Install your foam or rubber weatherstripping to the upper and lower edges of the window, making sure that the window will still be able to close and lock once the weatherstripping is in place
- Where the window slides against the trim board, apply rub rail caulking (or removable weather stripping)
- Install a window kit
- Clean the interior window frame and apply double-sided tape (included)
- Stretch plastic wrap to fit and press the edge firmly into the tape
- Heat with a hair dryer to stretch the plastic taught
- The plastic wrap will create a layer of “dead air” to buffer between outside and inside temperatures
- Do not confuse removable weather stripping with conventional caulking. Products like Zip-A-Way are designed for easy removal. Conventional caulking is NOT.
- Choose the size of your weatherstripping wisely. Try a single box and check all your windows to make sure they be able to close and lock before purchasing weatherstripping for the entire house.
- If you have storm windows, make sure they are closed, as open storm windows can cause up to 25% heat loss from your home.
- Check to see if your windows have any existing weatherstripping on the upper or lower edges of the window, which can get smashed during use and become less effective. If you can adjust the existing weatherstripping by hand to “respring” it, you may be able to avoid purchasing a replacement.
- Foam weatherstripping has a lifespan of 1-3 years.
How to Install Heat Tape
- Measure all pipes under the home including shutoff valves. If manufacturer’s manual for the mobile has the length of heat tape that is required for the home you can eliminate this task.
- Make sure that all joints are sealed and that there are no water leaks along the pipes under the home. Any leaks will cause damage to the pipe insulation and can short out the heat tape. Make any necessary repairs.
- Begin by putting the plug next to the outlet. Run the heat tape along the entire length of the freshwater supply pipe. The heat tape can be placed along the side of the pipe or wrapped around the pipe. Use electrical tape to secure the heat tape to the pipe. It is very important that the heat tape does not overlap itself.
- Wrap pipe insulation or pipe jackets over the entire length of pipe. When this is completed, wrap a waterproof wrapping around the insulation for added protection.
- Plug the heat tape into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter receptacle located under the mobile home for this purpose. Since there is a thermostat, the heat tape will come on as necessary.
Tips & Warnings
- Check heat tapes once a year to make sure they are working. Also check for cracks or tears in the wire.
- Make sure to purchase heat tape that is recommended for the type of pipe that it is being used on.
- Never install heat tape over insulation.
- Never fold heat tape.
- Never plug heat tape into an extension cord.
Winterize Your Home
If you’re living in a manufactured home and facing your first winter, you may not be aware how difficult it can be to keep a manufactured home warm. Taking the proper steps to winterize your manufactured home cannot only help keep you warm, but keep your heating bills down and also ensure that you safeguard your home against severely cold weather.
- Purchase a can of spray foam insulation from any hardware store or home improvement center. Fill in any holes around the outside of the manufactured home, including around the spot where the water pipe enters the home.
- Install storm windows or purchase a window shrink-wrap kit to cover the windows with. Losing heat from around windows is common. Sealing drafts is one of the most important steps in winterizing a manufactured home.
- Wrap an insulation blanket around your water heater and heat tape around water pipes. The water heater on most manufactured homes is located through an access door outside the home, which means it’s removed from the heat of the manufactured home’s living space.
- Seal the seams of the metal roof, if your manufactured home has such a roof. Do this every year when you winterize your manufactured home. Also, caulk around any plumbing pipes and vents that protrude from the roof.
- Perform routine maintenance on the manufactured home’s furnace. Replace or clean filters and clean exhaust vent and thermostat.
- Loosen all the tie-downs of the manufactured home slightly to allow for ground heaving when the ground freezes during the winter. Having no slack in the tie-downs if the ground shifts can cause damage to the manufactured home.
Tips & Warnings
- Remove snow from around the skirt of the manufactured home to allow for ventilation to the furnace.
- Don’t overlap heat tape around water pipes. This can lead to a fire.