Protecting Your Home This Winter
Winter weather can mean many different things, depending on where you live. From sweater weather to freezing pipes and feet of snow, there are as many levels to winter as there are things on the preparation list. Of course, with last-minute moving and other things that get in the way, you could be up against the clock. This list has quick tips to complete ASAP, to make sure your property is safe so you can enjoy the holiday season.
Preparation should be done to both the inside and the outside of your house. Here are some things to do inside.
- Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces, and consider insulating garages and other unfinished areas to keep pipes from freezing.
- Find a reliable back-up power source like a portable power generator.
- Schedule a service for your furnace, boiler and chimney annually.
- Check pipes closely for the presence of cracks and leaks and insulate them.
- Install an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system to help prevent pipes from bursting.
- Install or check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Click here for more tips.
- Know where your pipes are located and learn how to shut the water off in case your pipes freeze.
- Take steps to prevent flooding. Click here for more tips.
- Consider insuring yourself for a sewer backup because it’s not covered under standard homeowners insurance policies. or by flood insurance but can be purchased separately.
Most of these things should be done by a licensed professional, but there are some ways you can do these yourself, particularly if you are in a time crunch.
The risk of fire increases in the winter months, when more heaters are running and spaces are more confined. Among the things that should be on your preparation list for the colder months are to inspect your fireplace and chimney. Make sure the chimney is free of nests and animals and check the draft. You can do these on your own or have a professional come to do it.
If you have a wood-burning stove, you’ll want to make sure there are no cracks, loose joints, corrosion or holes. This is also a good time to clean the stovepipe. If you have a gas heater, make sure the vents and burner are clean and that regular maintenance has been performed.
Prevent Water Damage
Freezing temperatures can result in freezing pipes. A few simple ways to prevent that is to turn your thermostat to at least 68 degrees, close any windows near exposed pipes, open the cabinet doors that house any pipes and allow a faucet to drip slowly with lukewarm water.
If one of your pipes freeze, thaw it starting with the end closest to the faucet so that the water can drip out when it starts to melt. If the pipe bursts, shut off the water and minimize the moisture and mold damage by removing as much water as possible. Click here for more information.
Outdoor winter preparation looks a lot like of preparing for any major storm. Check the roof for missing or damaged shingles, clear the gutters and make sure there are no leaks. Clear your walkways of debris and make sure you can move about outside your house safely, even after ice forms. Having some sand or salt on hand for icy walkways is a good idea.
Ice and snow as well as the wind can weaken tree branches and cause them to come crashing down on your home or car, so take some time to trim trees and remove dead branches. Repair any broken steps or handrails long before they become a hazard to your family or guests. And prevent cold air from coming in or warm air from escaping by checking the weather stripping and caulking cracks near windows and doors. Click here for more information.
A little extra time spent in late fall or early winter to prepare your home and property from the extreme cold and winter weather is time well spent. Changing seasons for your house is a lot like changing over your closet from tank tops to sweatshirts, you’re always grateful you’ve done it.