Simple steps to prepare your home for winter, $AVE on utilities & avoid costly damage.

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You know the cold and snow are coming.

You get frustrated when you think about last year’s heating bill.

You can’t seem to forget that one year when a pipe burst, creating a huge mess and costing you a fortune to get it cleaned up and fixed

But, what are you planning to do this year to prepare for winter and prevent problems from occurring?

If you’re like a lot of people, you might not do anything because you don’t think you have the know-how or don’t think you have the time.

If so, there’s at least one thing you should do this winter – keep your fingers crossed.

The thing is, however, there are some really simple things you can do that will help save money and prevent problems, and they don’t take a lot of time.

Here are 10 things that top our Winterization Checklist:

  1. Clean out gutters – This may be something you want to hire someone to do, especially if your gutters are up high, but, whatever you do, make sure they get cleaned out because this is one of the BIGGEST causes of ice damming – water can’t drain, ice builds up, and the next thing you know, you’re painting the living room again.
  2. Shut off outside spigots – This is another simple thing that many people ignore because they don’t think it’s a big deal, but it’s not the frozen hose you should worry about, it’s all the water that will leak out of the spigot if it (or the pipe leading up to it) freezes up and bursts, either leaking water through your foundation into your basement or creating a wet/frozen mess outside; after you shut off the water supply (from the inside), don’t forget to open the spigot and also don’t forget to drain any hoses because water left in them can freeze, expand, and split the hose, which you won’t realize until the first weekend you need it in the spring.
  3. Wrap water pipes – The hardest part about this job is going to the hardware store, so there are no excuses for not insulating water pipes in the basement, attic, and crawl spaces, not only to improve efficiency and save money, but also to prevent pipes from bursting in extreme conditions.
  4. Service the heating system – No one likes to spend money on their heating system, but you’re much better off having it checked and serviced BEFORE winter versus having to call for repairs in the middle of a cold winter night because your family is awake complaining that they’re freezing; there are also some energy-saving things your service provider might be able to recommend, such as a thermal wrap for the water heater, high-efficiency thermostats, etc.
  5. Insulate your home – Hopefully insulation is something you addressed during the inspection when you purchased your home, or maybe during a subsequent remodeling project, and it’s probably not something the average person is qualified to tackle, but make it a priority to have someone check before winter sets in so you at least know if your home is well insulated and what your exposure to potential problems might be (ice damming, in particular); weather-stripping around windows and doors is something else that can help make your home more efficient and it’s a simple DIY project.
  6. Check your roof – Climbing up a ladder to see what’s going on with your roof likely is not something you want to address on your own, for safety and qualification reasons, but that doesn’t mean you can just ignore it and hope there isn’t a problem this winter – not if you want a dry house, anyway; snow-load and tree branches are a couple other things to consider when having your roof checked.
  7. Close fireplace flue/s – If you have a fireplace and use it regularly, you should try to keep the flue closed when not burning fires (be sure to reopen when needed), but many people have fireplaces that are simply for show and need to make sure the flue is closed all the time, otherwise that nice-looking fireplace will cost even more to look at.
  8. Don’t block heating vents or radiators – If your home has a forced hot air heating system, it can’t work efficiently or effectively with sofas, beds, or rugs blocking the vents and the flow of air; if you have a hot water or steam heating system, make sure you don’t push furniture up against radiators or stack a bunch of stuff on top of them, which can also be a fire hazard.
  9. Open cabinet/crawl-space doors and leave faucets dripping – When temperatures drop, sometimes all it takes is remembering to open the cabinet door below a sink to allow warm air to flow and/or leave a faucet dripping before you go to bed in order to prevent a water pipe from bursting and avoid finding a big mess when you wake up the next morning.
  10. Avoid snow and ice build-up – It might be easiest to shovel or throw snow from your driveway and walkways up against the house or into a spot that isn’t ideal for melting and draining, but you need to be mindful not to block dryer/furnace vents, heating units, etc. or to create a situation where snow/ice will melt and cause water to leak into your basement; additionally, if you see snow/ice building up on your roof or in your gutters, don’t ignore it (see #1).

Like anything, it will take a little time and effort to complete this checklist, but address these ten things and hopefully it won’t be as costly a winter or a winter that you try to forget before it’s over.

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