Brace yourselves – it’s officially Winter.
Before you turn up the thermostat and curl up on the couch in your warmest hoodie or blanket, be sure to address the following items to avoid dealing with some winter woes.
Check Your Heating System -- Schedule a professional checkup and cleaning of your home's heating system before you need to turn it on. If you heat with oil, have your furnace or boiler cleaned every year. If you heat with gas, you can have it done every three years or so. Make sure to change the air filters in your furnace regularly. When using high-efficiency heating systems, make sure that PVC vent pipes are cleared of snow and debris.
While you're at it, switch the direction of ceiling fans throughout your house to rotate clockwise so that warm air will be pushed downward.
Make sure your fireplace has also been inspected and properly cleaned by a certified chimney sweep to remove the buildup of creosote from past fires.
Check and Test Fire Safety Equipment. Make sure you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in each bedroom, on each floor of the house and in the kitchen. Check detectors monthly and change batteries as needed. Inspect fire extinguishers to ensure they're in good working order.
Look For Leaks. Start with the attic and the basement. Leaks in your attic allow warm air to escape and can cause ice dams. Ice dams form because the edges of a home’s roof are colder than the upper regions (where more insulation is below), causing ice to form around the eaves. Snow melts above, and the melted snow backs up behind a “dam” of ice, which can severely damage your roof and home.
Air leaks in your basement will usually draw cold air in. We recommend hiring a professional to seal those leaks and install insulation that’s also repellent to pests or rodents looking to warm up in your home.
Check all doors, windows, attic hatches, external vents and electrical outlets for leaks, and add caulk, weather stripping or insulation to prevent warm air from escaping.
If weather permits, inspect the roof and replace any loose or damaged shingles.
Tend To Your Curb Appeal. Clear and remove any fallen debris from the roof and rain gutters.
Trim and remove branches prior to any snowstorm. A big snowfall can settle onto tree limbs increasing the chances of breakage and damage to your home. Remove dead trees or shrubs as well.
Consider purchasing a roof rake to remove snow as quickly as possible following a snowstorm.
Clear your sidewalks of snow, ice, and debris. It’s the best way to avoid the risk of slip and fall claims.
Keep pet- and plant-safe ice melt or sand around to provide traction on stairs and other slippery areas. Consider this alternative to sidewalk salt – mix 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid, 1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol, and ½ gallon of hot/warm water and pour over walkways. They won’t refreeze. No more salt eating away at the concrete or stones in your walkways.
Purchase flags to mark the edges of your driveway and sidewalks when the snow gets really deep.
Prevent Frozen Pipes – Turn off, drain, or flush any outdoor hoses, sprinklers and irrigation systems. Outdoor spigots should be covered and exposed pipes wrapped in insulation. Keep the heat set no lower than 55° Fahrenheit if you take a tropical vacation.
Open any cabinets or areas with open pipes so warm air can circulate around them.
Update Safety & Emergency Supplies -- Check your emergency prep kit and stock your pantry with water and non-perishable food just to be safe. Extra batteries, flashlights, first-aid supplies, and portable smartphone chargers should also be included.