Winter creates many challenges and hazards around the house. Stay warm and keep your family safe when the temperatures drop. Here are some tips to follow when it’s time to prepare your home for winter.
Inspect the Heating System
You don’t want your furnace to stop working, especially on a cold night. To reduce the chances of this happening, have your HVAC system professionally inspected and serviced. The company will be able to clean the system and check for any broken or aging components.
Create a reminder to change your HVAC filters every 30 to 90 days, as recommended by the manufacturer. Keeping the filters clean will improve indoor air quality, help the system function more efficiently, and ultimately extend its lifespan.
Clean the Chimney to Prepare Your Home for Winter
Hire a professional chimney sweep to remove pine needles, leaves, and animal nests from your chimney. He or she will also inspect the chimney, looking for cracks in the mortar and damaged bricks. A chimney clogged with debris becomes a fire risk when you put your fireplace to use.
Test Safety Alarms
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are equipped with a button to test the devices and verify they are operating correctly. Remember to test them at least once a month and replace the batteries twice every year.
If your home doesn’t currently have working smoke detectors, winter is a great time to install them. We tend to spend more time indoors in winter; cooking, enjoying the fireplace, and using candles. These activities increase the risk of a house fire, so have at least one smoke detector on each level of your home.
Prepare for Storms
Put together a survival kit so that your family is prepared to withstand power outages caused by severe winter storms. Add the following items to your kit:
- Bottled water
- Non-perishable food
- First-aid supplies
- Smartphone backup chargers
- Emergency radio
Protect Plumbing to Prepare Your Home for Winter
Drain the outdoor plumbing and the sprinkler system to prevent burst pipes from water freezing and expanding. Do the same for any exposed plumbing near doors, windows, or in the attic, basement, or crawl space. Disconnect the garden hose from the outside faucet and drain it before storing it inside for winter.
Place doormats on the outside and inside of entrance doors so that mud, snow, and salt doesn’t damage your floors. Use a shoe cabinet or shelves and remove footwear when you come into the house. Install hooks so there is space to hang wet hats, jackets, gloves, and scarves at the entryway.
Check for Air Leaks
Inspect doors and windows for air leaks when preparing your home for winter. Use weatherstripping and caulking on gaps to keep cold air out and warm air in.
Inspect the Roof to Prepare Your Home for Winter
Inspect the roof and look for broken flashing around the chimney and vents. Hire a roofing professional to replace any missing or loose shingles so snow and ice won’t cause water damage to your home.
Inspect the Insulation
Have the insulation in your crawlspace, walls, and attic inspected when preparing your home for winter. Refreshing your insulation and filling any areas of missing or damaged batting will help you heat your home efficiently throughout the winter months.
Prune Tree Limbs
Trees that offer shade in the summer can pose a hazard to your home. To prepare for winter storms, trim dead or dying tree limbs that might fall and cause damage to your house, power lines, or vehicles. This also protects you against lawsuits if limbs from your trees fall and damage a neighbor’s property.