When the temperature begins to drop, consider these maintenance and end-of-season tasks that will help you winterize your home and protect your property.
We’ve gathered 10 simple tips for tasks like winterizing your home water pipes, avoiding heat loss and expensive energy bills, and using warm air to your advantage so you can protect your home all winter long.
Follow these steps to prepare your home for winter:
1. Check the gutters.
Prevent ice dams by cleaning out your gutters, installing gutter guards and making sure your attic floor is properly insulated. The attic itself should be well-ventilated and about 10 degrees warmer than the temperature outside.
2. Protect the pipes.
Protect against frozen pipes by insulating those that could be susceptible to freezing. When the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, keep a stream of water running in a few faucets to guard against freezing and bursting. To protect plumbing under kitchen and bathroom sinks, consider opening the cabinet doors so warm air can surround the pipes.
3. Seal the cracks.
Caulk holes and openings around windows, doors, air conditioners and mail chutes to help prevent cold air from seeping in. You can also install weather stripping and seals for an additional heat loss protection method.
4. Stop the slips, trips and falls.
Keep driveways and sidewalks clear of ice and snow and repair any issues with steps and handrails. You can also be prepared for winter weather safety by keeping deicing salt handy for sprinkling on steps, sidewalks and your driveway. Be sure to read the directions for proper distribution and protective gear.
5. Install an emergency release.
Consider installing an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system. This will protect against increased pressure caused by freezing pipes and can prevent them from bursting. It’s also a good idea to learn how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are located.
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6. Keep it cozy.
Set your thermostat to at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit and make sure your house or apartment is well-insulated. Consider installing an energy efficient or programmable thermostat to help you keep warm air in the rooms you use the most without racking up high energy bills.
7. Have your heating system checked.
Furnaces, boilers and chimneys should be serviced at least once a year to clear any buildup and to keep them running efficiently.
8. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Residential fires are more common in winter, so it is important that all your smoke detectors work. Check them monthly and replace batteries as needed. You should also consider installing a carbon monoxide detector to avoid inadvertently trapping the toxic gas in your home.
9. Clear the yard.
Keep the trees trimmed and remove dead branches and debris from your yard. Ice, snow and wind can weaken trees and cause branches to fall and potentially damage your home, car or even yourself and others.
10. House the hose.
Remove all garden hoses that are attached to the house, drain them and store them away. Shut off the valves and insulate the faucet.
If you’re heading south for the winter, you need to take extra precautions. Turn the water completely off and consider having the plumbing system drained to keep pipes from freezing. Also, have a friend or neighbor check on your home regularly to look for any issues. If a problem is detected, act quickly to minimize potential damage to your property.
Most home insurance policies cover damages due to extreme winter weather, but make sure you speak with your independent agent to answer any questions you have about your specific homeowners, condo or renters’ insurance policy.
This article is for informational and suggestion purposes only. Implementing these suggestions does not guarantee coverage. If any policy coverage descriptions in this article conflict with the language in the policy, the language in the policy applies. For full details on Grange’s home insurance coverages and discounts, contact your local independent agent.
Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)
Insurance Information Institute