Ten steps for winter home prep
These quick fixes will save you time and money this winter.
Leaves are falling and school is starting. Before you know it you'll be watching the snow float down outside from the warm sofa in your living room. You'll admire the children building snowmen. You'll get out your holiday cookie recipes.
This beautiful winter wonderland sounds nice, but first, you have some housekeeping items to take care of this Fall. The last thing you want is a leaky roof or bursting pipes when you're drinking hot cocoa by the fireplace.
- Clean gutters
Remove leaves, acorns, sticks and other debris from gutters so melting snow and ice can flow freely. This can prevent "ice damming"- a condition where water is unable to properly drain through the gutters and instead seeps into the house causing water to drip from the ceiling and walls.
- Trim trees and remove dead branches
Ice, snow and wind can cause weak trees or branches to break, damaging your home, car or injuring someone walking on your property.
- Check insulation
Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. If too much heat escapes through the attic it can cause snow or ice to melt on the roof, which is another cause of ice damming or roof collapse.
- Maintain pipes
Wrap pipes with heating tape and insulate unfinished rooms such as garages that frequently have exposed pipes. Also, check for cracks and leaks.
- Keep the house warm
The temperature in your house should be at least 65 degrees. A temperature lower than 65 degrees will not keep the pipes from freezing.
- Check heating systems
Have furnaces, boilers and chimneys serviced at least once a year. Make sure that smoke and fire alarms are working properly and consider installing a carbon dioxide detector.
- Maintain steps and handrails
Broken stairs and banisters can become lethal when covered with snow and ice. Make repairs now to prevent someone from falling and seriously being injured.
- Get to know your plumbing
Learn how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are located. If your pipes freeze, time is of the essence. The quicker you can shut off the water or direct your plumber to the problem, the better chance you have to prevent the pipes from bursting.
- Hire a licensed contractor
Have a professional survey your home for any structural damage. If damage is discovered, have it repaired immediately so further damage will not occur during the winter.
- Plan for being away
If you are not going to be in your home this winter for an extended period of time, have the water system drained by a professional to keep pipes from freezing or bursting. Also, have someone check on your home on a regular basis. If there is a problem, it can be fixed quickly, thus lessening any damage.
Another way to prepare for the winter weather season is to review your homeowners insurance policy with your independent agent. Discuss your coverage for damage from freezing pipes bursting. Talk about what happens if ice in your gutters causes water to back up under your roof shingles and into your house. Not pleasant topics - but making sure you have the right insurance coverage can save you time, money and stress if something happens this winter.