Despite the weatherman’s predictions, you never know for sure what the coming winter will have in store. Some winters are mild, others are severe, and many are somewhere in between. No matter what, you want your home to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature brings.
Winterizing your home is one of the most important duties of homeownership. Neglecting to do so can not only lead to more costly utilities and potentially significant repair bills, it can make your home less comfortable for you and your family. Here are some tips from the Department of Homeland Services’ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help extend the life of your home and keep your family safe during the cold winter months.
- Insulate walls and attics, caulk and weather-strip doors and windows, and install storm windows. An economical alternative to storm windows is to cover them with plastic on the inside.
- Clear debris from rain gutters so that they don’t fill with water that could freeze, adding weight that could damage the fascia board and cause leaks.
- Trim tree branches that could potentially fall on your home during a storm. Hiring a professional is strongly advised, especially if any branches are near power lines.
- Have your heating equipment and chimney professionally cleaned and inspected every year. And ensure all your fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside and that those vent openings are clear of debris and snow.
- Insulate pipes with foam wrap or newspaper to help prevent freezing. Be sure you and any other adults in the home know how to shut off the main water valve in case your pipes do freeze and burst.
During the winter, it’s not uncommon for some people to rely on additional or alternate heating sources. With some devises – especially those not intended to be used inside the home – there is an increased risk of fire, electric shock or carbon monoxide poisoning if the necessary safety precautions are not taken. As general guidelines:
- Keep fire extinguishers throughout the home, and teach all family members how to use them.
- Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning device anywhere inside your home, including the garage.
- Space heaters should only be placed on a level surface and away from heavy foot traffic when in use, especially if pets or small children are nearby. It’s best to have space heaters that automatically turn off when a room reaches the desired temperature or in the event it is tipped over.