With winter coming quickly, now is the time to start preparing for the long, cold months that lie ahead. Winterization is an important part of your annual maintenance requirements, as not taking care of these tasks can have some serious problems later. However, when it comes to winterizing your electrical system, the process isn’t terribly difficult or time-consuming. In fact, following these five steps can prepare your home for winter effectively without the need for specialized training, tools, or parts that may be difficult to find.
Step 1: Take Stock of Burned-Out Bulbs & Replace Them
Over the course of the summer, there’s a good chance a lightbulb somewhere in your home may have burned out. Because of the long hours of daylight, this may not have mattered all that much. With well over 12 hours of daylight for most days throughout the warm season, one or two bulbs missing probably didn’t mean all that much, especially if your home has large windows that allow a lot of natural light to filter in. Now that the days are growing shorter and you’ll be spending more time in darkness, these missing bulbs will have a greater impact on your life.
Take a few minutes to go throughout your home and test every light fixture. Make a note of any bulbs that are burned out, and then replace them with high-quality, energy-efficient bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs are popular energy-savers, but we strongly recommend going to LED lighting, as it is affordable and uses only a tiny fraction of the energy that a regular incandescent lightbulb did.
Step 2: Test Your GFCI Outlets
Ground-fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs, are extremely important safety features that protect you when using electrical outlets in places where water and moisture might be present. This is particularly important during the winter season for your outdoor outlets, as winter usually means heavy rains and colder temperatures. We also tend to use more outdoor electricity due to shorter days requiring more outdoor property lighting and the holidays bringing about a season of decorative holiday lights.
To test your GFCI outlets, simply press the “test” button on each of them. The “reset” button should pop out and the power to your outlet should shut off. From there, simply press the “reset” button, which should lock back into place and the power should turn back on. If the reset button does not snap back into place, or the test button does not cause the reset button to pop out and the power to shut off, then replace your outlet immediately. This is a sign that this important safety feature is no longer working properly.
Step 3: Maintain Your Backup Generator
Winter storms are a common cause of power outages, and power outages are a great reason to have a backup generator. However, a backup generator won’t really do a lot of good if it won’t start up. Thus, the autumn is a great time to conduct maintenance on your generator system. If you have a portable generator, this usually means a quick visual inspection of hoses and connections, and changing the oil in your generator’s engine to ensure it will run smoothly and freely. Standby generator maintenance is usually best left to a professional who is experienced in working with these systems. A professional will often conduct a generator test to ensure that the system will fire up and start generating properly in the event of a power outage—something you will want to know with absolute certainty will happen.
Step 4: Clean & Reverse All Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans are a great way to keep your home feeling cooler and more comfortable during warm weather. By constantly circulating air throughout a room, they can keep the temperature feeling cooler without the added burden on your air conditioner or huge impact on your energy bill. But did you know they can help you during winter as well? Every ceiling fan has a switch on it that reverses the motor direction, causing the fan to push air upward rather than pulling it back down. During winter, this helps keep warmer air that has accumulated near the ceiling in your room circulating back down to the levels where you want it.
Therefore, now is the time to clean off the dust that may have accumulated on your fan blades and then flip the switch on these fans to reverse their direction. This will improve air quality while also keeping the air in your room at a more even temperature thanks to constant cycling.
Step 5: Check Batteries in Flashlights & Emergency Equipment
Finally, now is the time to check your emergency equipment, including your flashlights. During an emergency, you’ll need a reliable and consistent source of light you can turn to in a hurry, particularly if you don’t have a standby generator installed. Find your emergency flashlights and give them a quick test. If any are showing signs of dimming light, replace the batteries. Always make sure to keep a decent supply of batteries handy as well, as you never know when you’ll need to change them out.Do you have a problem with your electrical system that needs professional attention? Call Lightning Bug Electric at (404) 471-3847 now to schedule an appointment.