When the leaves change colors, it’s time to weather-proof your home. Once the first snowflakes begin lazily drifting down from the sky, it won’t be long before the harsh snow, ice and wind can have devastating effects on your home if you’re not prepared. The following tips are intended to keep your home and family safe throughout the cold winter months:
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- Check heating systems: Heating systems, such as fireplaces, furnaces, boilers and chimneys, should be inspected/cleaned/repaired annually. Residential fires increase in the wintertime due to the usage (and negligence) of these heating systems. Double check the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon dioxide detectors for good measure.
- Heat your home: The temperature inside your walls is much lower than the interior of your home. To prevent your pipes from freezing, and ultimately bursting, maintain a temperature of 18°C or higher so the temperature inside your walls doesn’t drop too low.
- Maintain pipes: Burst pipes can lead to severe water damage (not to mention severe expenses!). Some precautions you can take include insulating unfinished rooms like garages and attics, wrapping pipes in heating tape, repairing any cracks or leaks as soon as they’re noticed and installing an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system. Learn where and how to shut off your water, and do so immediately if your pipes freeze. Leaving the tap open to a slow drip can also help prevent pipes from freezing.
- Outdoor Maintenance: Dirt and debris in your gutters can cause a condition known as ice damming, which is when water cannot drain properly and instead seeps into a home, creating water damage in its path. Installing gutter guards can reduce the time spent cleaning gutters by preventing debris from entering and clogging your gutters in the first place. Trim away dead branches from your trees; the weight of snow and ice can cause weak branches to fall and damage your home, car or injure individuals below. Routinely shovel snow away from walkways and outdoor stairs.
- Plan for lengthy trips: Ask a friend or neighbor to regularly check on your house if you plan to leave for an extended period of time. They can address any issues that may arise in your absence so you can begin to assess and remedy the situation before severe damage sets in. Before leaving, you may choose to hire a professional to drain the water system to keep the pipes from freezing.