Winterizing Your Home

With the winter season upon us, it is vital that we prepare our homes for the extreme weather ahead. A little preparation beforehand can minimize or eradicate any damage that may be done to your home due to harsh weather conditions. Here are some things both homeowners and renters should consider doing to prepare for the colder winter months ahead.

1. Check your roof and gutters.
Prevent ice dams by completely cleaning out your gutters. Make sure they are free from debris, leaves or branches. It may be wise to install gutter guards. Make certain that your attic floor is properly insulated, well ventilated and at least 10 degrees warmer than the outside
temperature. If you have a crawl space make sure it is insulated and check for any damage from water or rodents. Check to ensure all shingles are intact.

2. Protect your pipes.
You can fully protect your pipes from freezing by insulating them. With extreme drops in temperature, it is prudent to keep a stream of water running in a few faucets around the house to guard against freezing or bursting.

3. Seal any cracks.
Caulking around any holes or openings can help to prevent cold air from seeping in. Install weather stripping around openings such as windows, doors, air conditioners, and mail chutes. Replace your door seals, door sweeps, or thresholds to keep cold outside air from seeping into your home. Also, caulk around baseboards and crown molding if drafts are detected.

4. Stop any slips or falls.
Keep driveways and sidewalks clear of ice and snow. Repair any issues with steps and handrails. Keep rock salt handy to sprinkle after a snowstorm. Check any exterior steps and handrails for loose fittings; remove snow, ice, or standing water that may freeze. Slipping on
walkways and driveways are preventable situations.

5. Install an emergency release valve.
Consider installing an emergency pressure release valve in your home plumbing system. This valve will protect against increased pressure caused by freezing pipes; it can prevent them from bursting. You should also know how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are located if they need your attention.

6. Have your heating checked.
Furnaces, boilers, and chimneys should be serviced at least once a year to clean any buildup and detect any problems before the cold weather approaches. Replace the furnace filter to ensure efficiency and keep dust particles from penetrating the clean, heated air. These preventative measures will ensure that your unit will keep running efficiently. Keep your thermostat set to at least 65 degrees. Install a programmable thermostat. Keep your heat settings lower when you sleep and program it to raise the temperature just before you wake.

7. Test all of your detectors.
Residential fires are more common in the winter, so it is important that you check all of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are operational. Leaking fumes from a dysfunctional heating unit can be released into the air and potentially poison family members. It is imperative to check these detectors monthly and replace batteries as

8. Clean and clear the yard.
Survey your yard. Remove dead branches and debris. Keep trees trimmed. Ice, snow, and wind can weaken trees and cause branches to fall. These falling branches can potentially damage your home, car, or even yourself and others on your property.

9. Put away the garden hose.
It is important to remove all attached garden hoses, drain them and store them away. Shut off the valves and insulate the faucet. If you are leaving your home for an extended period of time you need to take extra precautions. Turn the water completely off and drain the pipes to keep
them from freezing. Many homeowner’s policies cover damage from extreme weather, check your policy.

10. Miscellaneous Tips
Set your ceiling fans on a counterclockwise directional setting as that direction forces warm air that gathers near the ceiling down into living spaces. Make sure you have a home emergency kit on hand as well as enough supplies for at least 3 days for each member of your household. There are a variety of heaters that use natural gas, kerosene, propane, and wood to generate heat. Generators can also be used to run electrical heat sources during power outages, such as a water heater.

The many comforts of a cozy, warm home in the winter can help you to enjoy the shorter days and the multiple layers of clothing needed. Enjoy the outdoors by participating in winter sports. Try hiking, ice skating, and bird watching. Before you know it spring will arrive with all of its glory.

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