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Tips For Winterizing Your Home

house covered with hat and scarf

Winter can bring a breath of fresh air to your home, especially if you enjoy decorating for the holidays. But the frost, freezing rain, and cold weather can also bring stress and headaches for homeowners. According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), many winter-related disasters are avoidable if people take a few simple steps to protect their homes from freezing temperatures, snow, and wind.

Is your house ready for the winter? Following these helpful tips before the weather advisories start coming in to make sure you and your family are safe and warm.

Winterize the Outside of Your Home

  • Clean out gutters. By removing leaves, sticks and other debris from gutters, melting snow and ice, as well as large amounts of rain, can flow freely.
  • Install gutter guards. Gutter guards can prevent debris from entering the gutter and interfering with the flow of water away from the house and into the ground.
  • Trim trees and remove dead branches. By trimming weak trees you can avoid damage to your home or car. Ice, snow, and wind can all cause trees or branches to fall and blow around.
  • Repair steps and handrails. In general, the areas around your home should be easy to walk on and safe for visitors and residents. You may want to keep some sand available to help melt the ice.
  • Seal cracks in holes in outside walls and foundations. Prevent snow and water from getting inside your home by caulking any cracks or installing weather stripping.

Winterize the Inside of Your Home

  • Keep the house warm. Set the thermostat for at least 68 degrees to help keep the pipes from freezing.
  • Add extra insulation. Attics, basements, and crawl spaces are places where heat escapes quickly. In the case of the attic, it can cause melting on the roof, which can then re-freeze and result in a collapsed roof. Insulated basements and crawl spaces will also help protect pipes from freezing.
  • Have the heating system serviced. Furnaces, boilers, and chimneys should be serviced at least once a year to prevent fire and smoke damage. If you're using an alternative heating source, make sure there is adequate space for installation, maintenance, and replacement.
  • Check pipes. Look closely for cracks and leaks and have the pipes repaired immediately. Wrap exposed pipes with heating tape.
  • Make sure that smoke and fire alarms are working. Residential fires increase in the winter, so it is important to protect your family with working smoke alarm systems.
  • Learn how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are.
  • Hire a licensed contractor to look for structural damage. Damage found before the winter can be repaired before a problem occurs.

If you travel for the holidays or are a snowbird, there are some additional steps to take to secure your home. Make sure you leave the heat at a temperature that will prevent freezing pipes and have someone come by and check on the house periodically. Activity around your home will also help reduce your risk of burglary.

Preventative measures that help reduce the cost of repairs or damage to your house are almost always worth it. They may also help in resale value or reduce your insurance premiums.