Summer is over, winter is right around the corner, and that means now is the time to make sure your home – your most valuable asset – is prepared for the winter months. According to the insurance industry reports, there are over $1 billion in homeowner claims each year due to damage caused by cold weather!
In this article, we’ll cover the things you can do to prevent you from having to file a homeowners claim this winter!
- Have your HVAC system inspected. Since your heating system will probably be running constantly throughout the winter, you should have it inspected annually to help if run efficiently, and if you have a furnace you want to ensure there’s no Carbon Monoxide entering your home. This is also a good time to check your CM alarm (or install one!) to make sure it’s functioning. Lastly, make sure you change the filters monthly. TIP: Don’t use the expensive paper filters as they put a strain on your system. Every HVAC technician I know strongly recommends using fiberglass filters.
- Inspect the insulation in your attic and crawlspaces. Replace any batts that have fallen down or moved.
- Seal potential leaks. Seal areas around recessed lights, the attic hatch, and plumbing vents that may be allowing warm air from the living space below to enter the attic.
- Allow for ventilation. Proper attic ventilation, adequate attic insulation, and a tight air barrier between the attic and the interior of the house will work together to prevent ice dams.
- Apply weather stripping. Add weather stripping to doors and caulk window gaps. Make sure all windows are locked to keep out as much cold air as possible.
- Install storm windows and doors. If you don’t have storm doors, or double-paned insulated windows, now is a good time to consider installing them. Storm windows and doors add a layer of protection to your home and help increase their energy efficiency.
- Fireplace. If you plan to use it, schedule an inspection and service by a professional to make sure your chimney is clear of debris and make sure that your damper opens, closes, and seals tightly.
- Insulate pipes. Pipes located in attics, crawl spaces, basements, and near outer walls can be susceptible to freezing in extreme temperatures. Insulate to help prevent your pipes from freezing. When the forecast calls for unusually cold temperatures let water drip from hot and cold faucets overnight and keep under-sink cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate.
- Consult your local utility company about an energy assessment to determine where your home is losing energy and what energy-smart investments would make sense.
- In northern climates, make sure your snow shovels are free from cracks. Schedule the annual tune-up for your snow blower, if you have one.
- Winterize outdoor faucets. Remove all hoses or devices attached to outdoor spigots. Be sure to drain any water left behind in the pipes. Have in-ground sprinkler systems blown out, and turn off the water to the outdoor spigots.
- Remove any debris or branches from around the HVAC unit, gas meters, from basement windows, and your dryer exhaust vent. Cut back dead or dying limbs and any branches that can touch the roof or siding. If you have limbs near power lines, have a professional trim them back.
- Firewood. Store your firewood in a dry place at least 30 feet from your home to avoid a fire hazard.
- Visually inspect your roof. Look for any missing or damaged shingles; consult a roofing professional if needed.
- Ensure that all gutters are clean and securely attached to help prevent ice dams.
- Swimming pools and hot tubs. In northern climates, close up and secure both the swimming pool and hot tub.
- Outdoor lights. Ensure that lights at doors (front, back, and garage) are functioning. Replace any burned-out bulbs with more efficient LED options.
- Prevent pests. Walk around your house, check the foundation for small cracks or openings where mice or other pests can tunnel in. Winter is when they seek the warmth of your house, so seal up any possible entrances.