With Winter on its way, the comforts of a cozy, warm home can help you forget about the lack of sunshine and bundling up like the Abominable Snowman. To help you prepare for the colder months ahead, here is a handy checklist designed to keep old man winter from ruining the season.
Most heating systems will likely be running daily throughout the winter so remember to change your HVAC filters every month.
Warm air rises and escapes through your roof, therefore any areas around recessed lights, attic hatches, and plumbing vents where warm air can escape into attic spaces should be checked to avoid water damage due to ice dams. An air-tight barrier between the interior of the house and the attic will help to prevent ice backup. If your attic wasn’t built with a ventilation system, contact a trusted professional or contractor about ventilating your attic before winter.
Weather stripping is an excellent way to help seal warm air in and cold air out, use around windows and doors to prevent leaks. Available at most hardware stores, weather stripping installs quickly and easily and is relatively inexpensive.
If you have the luxury of a fireplace, you can reduce heat costs by opening the dampers or cracking a window about an inch to prevent the fire from drawing warm air out of the rest of the house effectively replacing it with cold air. Be sure to close off doors leading into the room.
Don’t forget, to avoid fire damage, store firewood in a dry place a minimum of 30 feet from your home.
Keeping gutters clean will help water to drain away from your roofline and your house effectively preventing roof leaks and water damage. Clogged cutters are more likely to freeze, causing blockages where melting ice and snow can leak into the roof, damaging your home. Clear gutters while weather is warmer or hire a professional handyman to do the dirty work.
According to the IIBHS, a burst pipe can cause more than $5,000 in water damage! Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect your pipes from the bitter cold. Pipes located near outer walls may be susceptible to freezing in extreme temperatures causing water damage. Letting your water drip from hot and cold faucets can keep pipes from freezing when cold snaps take hold.
Open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate to places where pipes exist such as below sinks. Exposed pipes, such as those found in attics, basements, or crawlspaces, may require extra insulation around them. Prevention goes a long way to safeguarding against a burst pipe that could cause whole house damage due to flooding.
Be Emergency Ready
Losing power during winter storms or being snowed-in is never easy so prepare yourself for such an emergency by keeping an emergency kit handy—you’ll be glad you did.
- Bottled water
- Nonperishable food items
- Utility company phone numbers
- Battery backup for important electronic equipment
- First-aid kit
Safe Holiday Decorating
‘Tis the season, as they say, but remember decorate safely. Inspect the wires of your light display before switching them on. Light cords can become frayed with use and present an electrical fire hazard. Always check light strands before installing on your tree, they too can become damaged after a full year in storage. Keep live trees watered, since dry trees catch fire easier. Never leave your tree lit when not at home.
Pre-Winter Yard Maintenance
Cold weather doesn’t mean your yard maintenance is done. Tree and shrubs should be pruned back and away from house and windows. Icy conditions can cause branches to break causing roof damage. Survey the roof by walking around your home to see if ice dams have formed; call a contractor if you suspect this is the case to avoid any further water damage.
Be sure to check the foundation for small cracks or openings where mice or other rodents can get in. Pests seeking warmth can get in and wreak havoc on insulation. Keep snow clear of gas meters and away from your dryer exhaust and basement windows to avoid backups and leaks.
Using this checklist will see you well on your way to preventing any major damage this winter however, when life throws you a snowball you simply can’t dodge—our trusted 24/7 response professionals will have you back in front of that fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book in no time.