Winterize Your Home
Why Do You Need Proper Ventilation?
Before the first snowflake falls, it's wise to winterize! Below are some tips for preparing your home for harsh winter wind, snow, and ice.
To help prevent ice damming (a condition where water is unable to properly drain and instead seeps into the house) and gutter damage due to icicles caused by overflow, remove leaves, sticks, and other debris from gutters. You may also consider installing a covered gutter system to help prevent debris from entering the gutter, allowing the direct flow of water away from the house.
Trim Trees and Remove Dead Branches
Winter wind, ice and snow can cause dead or weakened branches to fall on and damage your home, vehicle or even you! Prevent this from happening by identifying and trimming trees and branches.
To prevent excess heat from escaping through your attic, check your insulation to be sure that it is sufficient. Heat that penetrates your roof can cause ice and snow to melt during the day and re-freeze at night, worsening the likelihood of ice damming. And don't forget to check the insulation in your basement and crawl spaces - this will help prevent pipes from freezing.
Be sure that all pipes that are in unfinished rooms such as basements and garages are covered with heating tape and insulated. Also check for leaks and have them repaired immediately - this will prevent costly repairs later! And be sure you know where and how to shut off your water should you experience a leak - the quicker you turn off the water the better chance you have of preventing pipes from bursting.
Keep the House Warm
The temperature in your home should not fall below 65 degrees. The temperature inside of your walls (where your pipes are) is substantially lower than the temperature inside your home. A temperature lower than 65 degrees will not prevent pipes from freezing.
Check Heating Systems
The proper maintenance of furnaces, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves is critical during the winter. Faulty heating systems can cause fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Have furnaces, boilers and chimneys serviced annually, and change filters quarterly. Also be sure that smoke detectors are working, and consider installing carbon monoxide detectors.
Maintain Outdoor Steps and Handrails
Cracked or broken stairs and handrails can be extremely harmful in ice and snow. Be sure that your steps remain clear of cracks, debris and ice to prevent injury to family and neighbors.
Hire a Licensed Contractor
After you check your home thoroughly for potential problems, be sure to call in a licensed contractor to perform repairs and replacements. Unlicensed contractors are most likely uninsured, and may not stand behind their work should problems arise later.
Prepare for Being Away
If you are going to be away from your home 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.