Winterize Your Home
For most of us, wintertime is a perfect opportunity to break out comfy wool blankets, make some hot chocolate, and enjoy the warmth of a fireplace. But while you snuggle and get warm, your house stays exposed to the elements. With extreme temperatures, even small items can add up to large and costly problems if left unattended.
Here are a few things you can do to ensure your home is properly winterized:
Clean Out Your Gutters
Now’s the time of year when leaves, acorns, pine needles, and other debris can easily fall into and clog up the gutters. Make sure that water can easily flow through the gutters so icicles and ice dams don’t form.
Trim Trees and Vines
It’s amazing how fast some trees will grow every year, extending their branches over your house or driveway (and perhaps creeping onto your neighbor’s property). You’ll want to keep them properly pruned, because ice and snow can accumulate on the branches, weigh them down significantly, and cause them to snap off. Cars, sheds, roofs, and other outdoor items can be severely damaged by even the smallest icy branches.
Check all the Pipes
Be thorough: Chances are your home has more faucets and pipes (and potential trouble spots) than you think. Disconnect and store all your garden hoses so they won’t freeze up. If your home has a separate shut-off valve for external faucets, shut off the water, drain the faucets, and place covers over them for the winter.
Disconnect and drain any sprinkler systems. If you have an extensive underground sprinkler system, you may want to call a professional company to blow out any leftover water that may be in the underground lines. For the rest of your home, be sure you know where the main waterline shut-off is located so you’ll be able to stop major problems before they occur.
Check Your Heating System
The colder it gets, the busier most HVAC professionals will be. So don’t put off having your system inspected and tuned-up to ensure it’s running correctly and efficiently. A proper servicing will include:
- Checking for carbon monoxide
- Cleaning and replacing air filters
- Checking blower operation
- Cleaning motor and fan
- Inspecting gas piping to furnace
Check Your Air Conditioning
Make sure your air conditioning system is properly shut down for winter:
- Drain any pipes or hoses coming from your air conditioner
- Vacuum out any pools of water you have in the A/C’s drain pan
- Cover your central air unit with a plastic air conditioner cover to keep water and snow out
Prepare a 72-hour Emergency Kit
Even if your home is properly winterized, you could still lose power during a bad storm and roads could be treacherous. Make sure you have enough food, water, medicine, batteries, and other supplies to last a few days. Many camping and outdoor stores offer pre-made 72-hour kits.
Follow these thoughtful tips and you should be able to ride out the worst of “Old Man Winter” without any serious trouble. For other winterizing tips, click here.
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