How to Winterize: Just as you prepare your family for winter by digging out the long-sleeve shirts, sweaters and coats or jackets, you can prepare your home for the onslaught of cold weather with a few relatively simple measures.
Here are a few tips from Furniture Row experts:
1. Prepare your landscaping
Trim weak trees and branches that might break during winter storms. “They could cause damage to your house or car,” cautions All State Insurance Company spokesperson Stephanie Sheppard. Prune limbs that hang too close to the house or electrical wires and be sure to move sensitive potted plants indoors.
2. Check your pipes
“Cold weather can cause pipes to freeze and burst, flooding your home and causing thousands of dollars in damage,” says Nick Gromicko, founder of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). His advice: Cover all exposed water pipes in cold areas such as attics, garages and crawlspaces with foam or fiberglass insulation. “It’s readily available in most hardware stores.”
Most pipes are located within walls, where it can be significantly colder than the rest of the house. Setting your home temperature no lower than 65 degrees will help keep these pipes from freezing.
3. Eliminate Drafts
Install storm doors and windows, or put plastic sheeting over single-pane windows. Add foam gaskets behind electrical outlet plates on exterior-facing walls. Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ductwork and wiring go through walls, ceiling and floors.
“Feel for drafts with your hand or watch for horizontal smoke from an incense stick as you wander through the house,” Gromicko suggests.
4. Boost Your insulation
If your attic isn’t properly insulated, heat can escape and cause snow or ice on your roof to melt and refreeze. This can lead to roof leaks or even collapses. “Attic insulation should be 12 inches thick in cold climates,” says Gromicko. “Add it if you need it.”
5. Raise your alarms
Residential fires increase in winter, so make sure your smoke alarms have fresh batteries. Consider installing a carbon dioxide detector, especially since a well-sealed home can trap this toxic gas.
6. Inspect your chimney
The National Fire Protection Agency recommends that a chimney be inspected annually to determine if cleaning or repairs are necessary. To ensure that critters don’t take up residence in your chimney, consider buying a protective chimney cap. Also, remember to keep the damper closed when the fireplace isn’t in use so that you can keep the cold air out.
7. Assemble your emergency kit
Candles, matches, flashlights, bottled water, blankets and battery back-up systems will come in handy if the power goes out — as will the phone numbers of your utility providers!
8. Service your Heating System
Furnaces should be serviced annually. Keeping your furnace cleaned and maintained will help it last longer and reduce energy usage. A well-maintained furnace also helps prevent fire and the production of deadly amounts of carbon monoxide, which can be emitted from a dirty, inefficiently burning furnace. Also, be sure to clean or replace your furnace air filter as often as the package indicates.
9. Clean your gutters
Remove leaves and debris to allow water to flow freely, helping prevent interior leaks and mold growth. Consider installing “gutter guards” to prevent debris in the first place.
10. Reverse your fan
Reverse the rotation of your fans to push warm air down and force it to recirculate throughout rooms. A fan has been reversed if it spins clockwise.