Early fall is the perfect time to prepare for the winter weather ahead. When temperatures plummet and snowstorms are imminent, issues such as fire hazards, water damage, and high heating costs can arise. Review this preparedness checklist to winterize your property and help prevent the problems that winter may bring.
- Winterize your windows and doors. Take down the screens on your windows and doors to let more sunlight into your home. Also put draft snakes around windows and a door sweep at the door to keep cold air at bay. Seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors with weather stripping and caulk. Caulk up the gaps that are bigger than the width of a nickel. This prevents moisture and cold air from getting inside.
- Have your heating system serviced. Before winter begins, hire a professional to inspect your furnace and heat pump to ensure your heating system works efficiently and that carbon monoxide leaks are prevented. Change the furnace filters each month during the cold season. Dirty furnace filters reduce furnace efficiency (decreasing its lifespan) and increase energy bills.
- Insulate air ducts. Poorly sealed ducts can cause around 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system to be lost. To prevent this heat loss, hire a contractor to properly seal and insulate the air ducts in your home. You will save on energy and reduce the stress on your furnace.
- Maintain your fireplace. To ensure your fireplace is in good condition, look up into the flue to check for obstructions, such as creosote buildup or birds’ nests. Ensure the damper opens and closes properly and check your firebox for damaged or missing brings or mortar. Also hire a chimney sweep to inspect the exterior of the chimney for crumbling mortar and broken bricks.
- Check your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. Heating equipment fires and CO buildup are more common during winter. Thus, you must ensure that your smoke and CO alarms are working properly by testing them each month. Replace the batteries twice a year, preferably when Daylight Saving Time begins and ends. Also, most smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years.
- Clean the gutters and downspouts. Removing leaves, twigs, and other debris from gutters prevents water from leaking onto your home, causing damage. Having clean gutters and downspouts also helps prevent ice dams during freezing temperatures. Also ensure that your gutters and downspouts aren’t worn or damages. While you’re checking the downspouts. Make sure they divert water at least three to four feet away from the foundation. Add extensions to downspouts otherwise.
- Prevent ice dams. If you’ve previously had ice dams on your roof, then your attic is not properly insulated and ventilated. Your attic, including the pipes, vents, light fixtures, and chimney systems must be insulated to prevent heat transfer to the attic. Warm air melts the snow on your roof, which causes ice dams that can weaken your roof and cause water damage. Besides providing insulation and sealing gaps, make sure your attic has enough ventilation to allow cold air into the attic.
- Inspect your roof. Hire a contractor to look for missing, loose, or damaged shingles and make necessary fixes. Additionally, clear off debris from the rood as it can damage the roof’s shingles or membrane.
- Organize your garage. Many of the tools in your garage, such as lawnmowers and weeders won’t be useful in winter, so move them to the back of the garage. Some tools, however, such as snow blowers, snow shovels, and sleds will be handy in winter. Bring those forward.
- Stock up on basics. Power outages can happen during strong blizzards, freezing up your home and ruining your refrigerated food. To prepare for an outage, keep an emergency kit (with food, water, medical supplies, etc.) and alternate heating sources on hand. In addition, restock cold-weather essentials, such as salt or ice melt.
- Keep pests away. During the cold winter months, there’s a high chance that critters like spiders and bugs will enter your home. To fend off these pests, spray the perimeter of your home with a critter repellant product.
- Protect patio furniture. To ensure your patio furniture and outdoor heaters are protected from the weather, bring them inside or cover them. Don’t forget to protect the grill and the kids’ sand table as well. Bring clay pots inside too as they may crack when temperature drops low.
- Mulch leaves. Instead of raking and discarding the leaves on your lawn, mulch them. The resulting compost provides nourishment for your lawn. Also, when stowing your mower for the winter, add stabilizer to the fuel tank to protect the engine if the tank still contains fuel.
- Protect pipes from freezing. Burst frozen pipes are one of the most common water damage incidents during winter, but they can be prevented. Keep the thermostat to at least 55 degrees when you’re out of the house. Moreover, let faucets drip during severe cold weather to provide relief for your pipes with insulation and caulk up cracks or holes in your walls to keep cold air away from the pipes.
- Prune trees around the house. Long tree branches hanging near your house or above your roof can cause all kinds of damage to your home due to heavy snow and strong winds. Cut those loose branches to possibly save thousands of dollars in damages.
- Hose: Make sure to remove the hose from outside spickets.
While following these tips can greatly help you prevent property damage during winter, a disaster can still occur. This is where PuroClean comes in. To handle any water, mold, fire, or biohazard problem, always hire a professional restoration company such as PuroClean. We use the proper equipment and techniques to restore your property and its contents safely and correctly to pre-loss condition.