We know that heating your home during the winter is a big line item for your budget. When homeowners get hit with unexpected emergency repairs on top of their oil bill, that can easily wipe out your slush fund you planned on using for that trip to the islands!
Here are a few things we suggest you do before the snow starts flying and the temperatures dip below freezing:
Protect those pipes. Turning off the water and draining the pipes to garden hoses is often a typical Fall maintenance task, however, many people either forget or don’t realize that other pipes in their home may be susceptible to freezing. If a Polar Vortex swoops in on the North East again, pipes that may normally be fine, could become an issue. Be prepared and insulate any pipes that are on exterior walls and don’t have access to a lot of heat. Pipes under a kitchen sink, in a garage, or basement may freeze and burst under the right conditions creating not only a mess but an inconvenience and costly repair.
Check your heating source. Many of our customers prefer to have their HVAC system serviced during the late Spring to early Fall – when their systems are not in use. If you haven’t scheduled your routine maintenance – just like a tune-up for your car – then make sure you schedule one asap. If you have a forced air system, replace any filters and clean any vents/registers of debris. If you have baseboard heat, clean them from any dust, hair, or items that may have been dropped in them. You may also want to install a programmable thermostat to save energy while the family is out of the house or sleeping.
Prevent ice dams. If you didn’t clean your gutters during your Fall Maintenance, you will want to make sure you check them and remove any debris before the snow starts to fall. You will also want to seal any places that may allow warm air to leak from your home to your attic – vent pipes, exhaust fans, chimneys, attic hatches, and light fixtures. Keep your attic soffit vents clear of stored items – they allow air to flow into the attic. If your home is prone to ice dams, you may want to install snow and ice slides to prevent ice and snow from sticking to your roof, installing heat cables along the eaves to melt any accumulation, or even adding additional insulation to your attic.
Inspect and prep the fireplace. Is there anything cozier than enjoying the warm glow and heat from a fire on a cold snowy evening? Before you light that fire or turn on that gas, you need to ensure your fireplace is clean and the chimney free of debris and creosote. The average homeowner can certainly clean out the remnants of any ash or debris in the unit, but a professional chimney sweep should be consulted to remove soot and creosote. If not done properly a fire could start in the chimney and cause major damage. When not in use, make sure to keep the flue closed – you shouldn’t feel any cold air coming down the chimney.
Be prepared for an emergency. Losing power during the Winter can be very dangerous especially if you aren’t prepared. Make sure to have the proper equipment in place in case it’s needed: fire extinguisher, back up heat source (generator, fireplace, or pellet or wood stove), ice melt, shovels, and fuel for a snowblower if owned, as well as non-perishable food, batteries, flashlights, etc.
If you haven’t taken care of routine Fall Maintenance yet, you’ll want to make sure you check off everything on THIS LIST to make sure your home and autos are ready for the changes in season and temperatures.
The seasons pass by in a flash and before you know it you’ll be doing Spring Cleaning. In the meantime, make sure your home is prepped and ready to handle anything that Old Man Winter has to throw at it.