Winter is around the corner. For homeowners, that means it’s time to get your home ready for the colder months. While this time of year can be quite enjoyable, with holidays, family, delicious food, and beautifully-wrapped gifts, it is also a potentially tricky time of year for your home.
The cold and high-intensity weather can put pressure on your home — and could result in costly damage. But luckily, we can predict and prepare for these dangers. Here are a few things you can do to prepare your home for winter:
1. Improve Your Insulation
To ensure that heat stays inside the home, and reduce your energy bill, evaluate your insulation and consider replacing it. Experts suggest that you should have at least 12 inches of insulation in your attic. In some cases, simply adding more insulation will be enough to keep you nice and cozy through the winter months while also saving you some cash. Be sure to work with a professional or research the different types of insulation if you plan to tackle this job yourself.
2. Repair Your Roof
If your roof has any leaks, you’ll certainly regret it during the winter months. That’s why right now is a good time to double check and repair any problems with your roof. While it may cost a couple hundred dollars, you’ll be grateful for the peace of mind of having a solid roof over your head — literally. While you’re at it, you should also clear out your gutters, says Joel Ambrose, President of HandyPro. This will help avoid pooling of rainwater that could damage your home. “Around the vent pipes is another area that typically gets ice and water during the wintertime — make sure they are tight and sealed to get water out.”
3. Help Your Heating System
You may need to clean the filters in your heater or furnace — or replace them. A dirty filter can hurt the efficiency of your system and negatively affect your air quality. Since you’ll be running the heater more during winter, you’ll want to ensure that it’s functioning properly. A heating technician can usually get this done for $100 or less. While they’re on-site, ask them to test your home’s carbon monoxide levels too.
4. Check Your Chimney
If you have a chimney, it’s important to get it inspected regularly to ensure that it is not blocked. This way, you can avoid chimney fires and be ready for lots of relaxing hours by the fireplace with a book and a cup of hot chocolate. “If you’re going to be burning wood, make sure there are no cracks in the chimney,” says Ambrose. He recommends having a professional take a look. You can learn more about chimney safety from the Chimney Safety Institute of America website: www.csia.org.
5. Wrap Your Water Pipes
If you live in a region that experiences very cold temperatures, you might want to insulate your water pipes. When the thermostat drops below freezing, the water inside the pipes can also freeze and this can cause pipes to crack. Fixing broken pipes is not obviously highly inconvenient, not to mention expensive. Wrapping pipes with foam insulation or heat tape makes it less likely that they’ll break during the coldest nights. It also reduces heat loss, making your hot water heater run more efficiently.
6. Trim Your Trees
When winter arrives, it often brings rainstorms, snowstorms, and punishing winds. Any tree branches that are dead or week could easily break during a storm and fall on your home. No one wants to wake up to a tree branch crashing through their roof. But even small branches can scratch paint and damage windows. Take a look at trees around your home and make sure there are no branches within striking distance. If there are, consider trimming them now. “I would start trimming anywhere from three to six feet back,” Ambrose tells us.
7. Defeat Your Drafts
One of the things that can kill your energy bills during winter is having a draft anywhere in the home. It’s worth going all around your home and finding the places where cold air can sneak in, so you can seal them up. In some cases, this might require a small rug, piece of foam, or door sweep underneath a door. In other cases, you might need to add weatherstripping inside a door frame or window frame. If you’re high tech, try using an infrared thermal gun to detect the drafts.
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