Winter is coming. We get lots of emergency water extractions in early winter, when people have failed to take precautions prior to the first freeze of the season. There are numerous steps that homeowners can take to avoid burst pipes and other maintenance and safety issues during the winter. Here are some of the ways you can prepare for winter:
- Disconnect hoses and outdoor faucets. This is one of the most common causes of water losses that we see during early winter. To avoid allowing your pipes to freeze and burst, we recommend disconnecting your garden hoses and other outdoor faucets well in advance of the first freeze. It’s easy enough to re-connect them on an as-needed basis when performing fall yardwork, but failing to take this precaution is costly.
- Clean out gutters and downspouts.Keeping your gutters clean will allow your home’s drainage system to work properly and keep water from pooling in places it shouldn’t. Failing to clean out the gutters can lead to water in the basement and damaged exterior surfaces. After cleaning out the gutters, you should consider installing gutter guards as an added precaution.
- Change your furnace filter.Clean or replace your furnace filter as necessary. It’s always a good idea to have a professional check your furnace once a year to ensure that it is functioning properly.
- Seal cracks and gaps. The United States Department of Energy claims that 10% of your heating bill is due to gaps in caulk and weather stripping. To heat your home efficiently, check for gaps and cracks in windows and doors and repair damaged or non-functional areas.
- Inspect the roof for problem areas. Look over your roof and repair problem areas. Doing this before snowfall is important, because in the event of a roof leak due to melting snow, you may be unable to identify the source of the leak.
- Safety Steps. Replace the batteries in each smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector, and test each device. Clean and check your home fire extinguisher to ensure it is in proper working order. Many fire departments will check fire extinguishers, and it is worth a call to see if this is offered near you. Fall is also a good time to re-think your fire escape plans from each bedroom, making sure that there are two exit paths for each bedroom.