Costly winter-wealth-related nuisances, like frozen pipes, can often be avoided with adequate preparation. But it isn’t always easy to know what needs to be done, especially for a new homeowner. Share this checklist with your insureds to keep winter maintenance simple.
- Clean Out Gutters: With winter comes increased precipitation. If your gutters are clogged with leaves and twigs, snow and ice that would ordinarily melt and run off to the ground get trapped, potentially causing costly structural damage. Grab something to scoop up large debris, like a trowel, and get out the garden hose for a full clean. If basement flooding has historically been an issue, extend the downspout to direct the water further away from the home.
- Fireplace Inspection: Winter months are the prime time for carbon monoxide poisoning. On an annual basis, have a chimney inspector come over to eliminate dangerous obstructions and sooty buildup.
- Frozen Pipe Prevention: When water freezes in pipes, it expands and can potentially crack pipes, filling your home with water. Insulate pipes that run through unheated areas, such as attics and crawl spaces. Drain and shut off outdoor faucets before cold weather hits. And keep your thermostat set at a steady temperature.
- Wrap Up Water Heater: If your home has an old hot water heater, consider wrapping it with an insulation blanket designed to fit your size tank. These jacket-like accessories can reduce heat loss and save homeowners in energy costs.
- Stock Up on Supplies: Shovels and ice melt are essential winter tools. Look for ice-melting products that are free of salt or chloride, as it can be harmful to pets and people alike. A heavy winter storm can leave you stranded in your house for days, so make sure to have canned food, bottled water, and other emergency supplies on hand just in case.
- Bring Out the Snow Blower: Before it snows, make sure your snowblower is in good working order. Small-engine repair companies can tune-up machines, with some even picking up and dropping off equipment. And don’t forget the gasoline and motor oil.
- Clean Your Dryer Vents: After each use, you should clean out the lint filter to reduce the risk of fire and improve your home’s energy efficiency. With less regularity, clean the lint vents found at the back of most dryers. Check manufacturer’s instructions if you have trouble locating them.
- Bleed Your Radiators: Each winter, radiators will need to be bled to ensure they run at full capacity and efficiency. Turn on all your radiators and then turn off central heating a few minutes later. Let them cool and turn off the individual radiators. Open the bleed valve and be ready to catch any water that falls out. Once all the air is out, close the valve and move on to the next radiator. Despite the intimidating name, bleeding radiators is not difficult.
- Seal Leaky Doors and Windows: Applying caulk or weatherstripping material to drafty windows and doors can help better insulate your house — and save you money in energy costs.
- Check Window Wells: Window wells keep soil and moisture away from basement windows, but if they are not maintained well, they can put your basement at risk. Inspect the liner and replace any that have become loose to prevent flooding.
By weatherproofing and performing preventative maintenance, you can protect your home from disaster and ensure that no snow nor ice will spoil your winter. While it may seem daunting at first, it does not need to feel overwhelming. Staying on top of things keeps your house running like a well-oiled machine all year long.