As the temperatures drop and winter weather approaches, it’s time to think about preparing your home for the season. Winterizing your home doesn’t have to be an expensive process, and doesn’t necessarily require an extensive amount of work. Prevention is the best policy when it comes to preparing your home, and helping to avoid disasters and costly repairs later on. Instead of waiting until you have to learn how to defrost frozen pipes, prepare your home now! Here are some tips to keep your home cozy and warm throughout the winter months.
Protecting your pipes
- Before the temperatures drop this year, consider wrapping your pipes in pre-split pipe foam or wrapping them in heat tape, which will insulate and protect the pipes from freezing—which can result in a costly, wet mess.
- In the event that you lose power, keep the interior doors open. This allows airflow and helps regulate the temperature in your house. Keep in mind that cabinet doors under your sink count too!
- Keep the water dripping in rooms like the garage or wherever the home isn’t heated. If you lose power and subsequently heat, keep all faucets dripping. This keeps the water moving, which helps to prevent the pipes from freezing so you won’t have to thaw frozen pipes.
- Drain water from sprinkler systems, fountains, or swimming pools.
- Install an emergency pressure release valve to help prevent pipes from freezing. When the pressure from the cold water expanding becomes to much, the valve will open to allow the water to move through. Moving water is less likely to freeze.
- Trim back any tree branches that are too close to your house.
- Have a tree removal service come out to your house and cut down any dead trees, or trees that might become an issue later.
- Secure any yard items that might be able to be blown away. Put up any umbrellas or patio furniture, or make sure they are securely fastened down to prevent them from hitting your house.
- Check your house for anything loose—think shutters, outdoor lights, storm doors, drains, and gutters. Reattach or replace these items to prevent them from damaging your house.
- Make sure to repair any steps or handrails that have become loose or dislodged. With ice, these minor problems can become deadly.
Heating and fireplaces
- Have your chimney swept professionally if you will be using it this winter.
- Get a chimney cap installed to prevent animals and debris from getting into your chimney and causing a chimney fire.
- Remove any items from the mantle or near the hearth that could catch on fire. Stockings and trimmings on the mantle are pretty, but not if the fire is going!
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, or check your existing system to make sure it is working properly. This is a simple step that can save you and your family’s lives.
- Change your furnace and air filters regularly—this not only helps keep your energy costs down but can help improve air quality and reduce the chances of fires.
Keeping a roof over your head
- Add extra insulation in your attic to keep the temperature regulated—if your attic gets too warm, the snow accumulated on the roof can melt and then refreeze, causing ice which can be too heavy for your roof to handle.
- The average roof can handle 20 pounds of snow per square foot before damaging the structure. If you live in an area that regularly gets more than a foot of snow at once, consider getting your roof reinforced. Steeper roofs collect less snow and are less likely to collapse.
- Check your shingles regularly to look for damage. If any are missing, have them replaced.
- If you live in an area where hail or freezing rain is a frequent occurrence, consider getting hail-resistant shingles or roofing tiles that are made to withstand the damage.
- If you live in an area with large amounts of snowfall, consider getting a waterproof layer under your roofing tiles to help prevent ice and snow from melting and damaging the structure below.
- If a large amount of snow has accumulated on your roof, use a snow rake with a long extension arm to remove the snow without having to get on a ladder. Watch out below! Falling snow and ice could cause bodily harm.
- Snow too much to handle? Consider contracting a snow removal company to come to remove it while you enjoy the warmth inside.
- Can’t decide if there is too much snow? If you have trouble opening your interior doors—it could be a sign that the central structure of your house is under too much pressure and your door frames are warping. If you have recently gone under renovations or removed load-bearing walls, you should be especially weary of roof cave-ins.
While there are things small and large to do around your house to help prevent an insurance claim, using common sense and regularly inspecting your house is a great way to keep issues under control. Know where the water and gas shut-offs are in case of an emergency—you don’t want to be scrambling around while your kitchen is flooding. Know the numbers for handymen and tree removal services in case you need it—you might not have the time to track these down when you need them. Watch the weather and know when storms are coming and how to best prepare for them. Have a radio and emergency supplies in case you lose power. Being prepared will help prevent tragedy, and can give you peace of mind while you enjoy time with your family. Happy Holidays from Sedgwick’s temporary housing division!