Whether you have a brand new home, an older home, or even an apartment it's important to get yourself ready for winter. Don't forget, inaction can be costly if you're not ready for a storm! Keeping your home in good repair not only prevents larger problems, but it can also avoid any possible complications if you have to file an insurance claim in the future. Here's a list of tips and tricks for a variety of living situations. We hope these help!
CLEAN THE GUTTERS
Remove all debris from your home’s gutters to let late fall rains and winter precipitation run freely. Make sure the water drains properly into the downspouts while you’re cleaning and check that all of the gutter attachments are securely in place.
INSPECT THE ROOF
Inspecting the roof doesn’t mean you have to climb a ladder. You can inspect it from the ground using a pair of binoculars. Look for shingles that are lifting, cracked or showing any signs that the protective granules have worn away. If you can get into your attic, look for pinholes of light or signs of water damage along the roofline.
SHUT OFF OUTDOOR SPIGOTS
Don’t worry about having a pipe burst this winter. To prevent, disconnect, drain and store all your garden hoses. If your outdoor spigot has a shut-off valve, close the valve and drain the faucet. You can also wrap protective insulation around the spigot for the off-season. If you have any exposed pipes, it’s important to make sure they are insulated as well to prevent them from freezing.
PATCH WINDOWS AND DOORS
Check around all your outside doors and around the windows looking for any weather-stripping that has become loose or cracked and replace it. Wave a lit match or incense stick around the window and door frames, and caulk any areas where the smoke wavers, which indicates an air leak.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR HVAC SYSTEM
An annual inspection and tune-up before winter is a smart way to extend the life of your HVAC system by catching small problems before they can get worse. It’s also important to personally inspect the areas of the ductwork you can easily reach to check for signs of escaping air. Joints and seams are the most likely area for leaks. In the winter, remember to check your filters monthly and change them when they get too dirty to ensure proper air flow throughout your home.
REVERSE THE ROTATION OF YOUR CEILING FANS
In the winter, your fans should rotate clockwise to help distribute heated air evenly throughout the home. This is easily done by a switch on the fan.
TRIM THE TREES
Texas is known for the ice storms they can get in the winter so it will pay off to trim back branches that hang over roofs and power lines. If these branches collect enough ice, they could break off and do some serious damage to your house, power lines or anything underneath them.
FLUSH THE WATER HEATER
Particles and sediment in your water supply can collect over time in the bottom of your water heater, hindering the unit’s efficiency. Flush the water through the drain valve to clear out the material and keep your heater functioning at its best.
PREP THE FIREPLACE
There’s nothing better on a cool night, than to light the fire in your fireplace, but you want to make sure your fireplace is ready now so you don’t have smoke coming into your house. The National Fire Protection Association found that failure to clean creosote from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys, was the main cause of home heating fires. Now is a great time to have your chimney professionally cleaned and inspected. If you don’t plan on using your fireplace, seal it off to prevent cold air from getting through.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR OUTDOOR SPACE
Clean your outdoor furniture before the winter and store them or cover them during the off-season to prevent them from getting dirty or rusted from the winter precipitation. Now is also a great time to replace your outdoor bulbs with energy-efficient models so you can save some money during the long winter nights.
AUTOMATE THE THERMOSTAT
If your thermostat isn’t programmable, you can easily purchase one from the local hardware store. Program the thermostat so that the furnace turns on any time the house reaches a certain temperature. This way, you won’t have to continuously adjust the temperature and heat the house while you aren’t home. Furthermore, this will result in a huge savings on your energy bill.
INSULATE HOT WATER PIPES
Exposed pipes waste heat by cooling off the water running through them. Insulate the hot water pipes in your basement or crawl space by snapping foam sleeves on them.
MAKE SURE YOUR SAFETY DETECTORS ARE WORKING
Most house fires happen in winter. Test all of your smoke detectors to make sure they are working and that they have good batteries. If your home does not have carbon monoxide detectors, consider getting some.
CLEAN YOUR CHIMNEY
Get your fireplace cleaned and inspected before you start building those cozy fires. A chimney sweep company will make sure the fireplace is safe to use, and it can also identify maintenance problems. Heated or cooled air rises and escapes when you leave the fireplace damper open. When the fireplace is not in use, shut the flue.
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