If you haven’t winterized your home, do not wait! It should be done now!!!!! Winter maintenance will help you avoid costly weather-related repairs that are so common in the coldest months. Here’s what to focus on when winterizing your home:
- Pipes – Frozen water can cause breaks, leaks, and cracks in your water pipes. Piping is the most susceptible part of your home when it comes to cold weather damage, particularly pipes located in the attic, basement, crawl spaces, and near outer walls especially on the north side of a home. Proper insulation will keep these outer pipes from freezing, but if they are not well-insulated, you need to take steps to ensure they withstand a cold snap. When the forecast calls for unusually cold temperatures, let water drip from hot and cold faucets overnight. Keeping cabinet doors open will allow warm air to circulate in places like below sinks. If you plan to leave your home for an extended period of time during cold temperatures, you should shut your water off completely.
- Heating System – Your heating system is about to get its big annual workout, so now is the time to make sure it’s all tuned up and ready to go when winter hits. Have your furnace checked by a licensed contractor before a freeze, and clean or replace your filter on forced air systems. Stay energy-efficient by making sure your heat isn’t escaping through poor insulation or gaps in your windows and doors. Use weather stripping on doors and shrinkable plastic wrap on leaky windows.
- Insulation – In addition to adding weather stripping to doors and windows, we recommend calling a home insulation contractor to inspect your insulation and perform any upgrades if necessary.
- Chimney – If your home has a wood-burning fireplace, you’ll need to get your chimney checked for soot buildup once a year, preferably in the fall before you begin using it regularly. Soot buildup can be very dangerous, posing a fire hazard and carbon monoxide poisoning risks. The Chimney sweep should also check the damper as well as the exterior of the chimney.
In addition to taking the above steps to winterize your home, it is always a good idea to have an emergency plan in place. Keep flashlights, a first aid kit, and plenty of blankets readily accessible, as well as a stock of bottled water, nonperishable food items, batteries, and emergency contact phone numbers. For those of us that might experience freezing rain and ice causing power lines to snap as well as trees to fall, winter preparedness is important!