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Winterize Your Home Before the Freeze

Winterize Your Home Before the Freeze

December wouldn’t be complete without snow, at least for people living in the Northern Hemisphere. As the temperature begins to drop and the first snowfall starts, the whole neighborhood turns into a winter wonderland of snow fights and snow angels.

While the winter months offer a great deal of fun, they can also put a heavy toll on your home. Temperatures that could reach the freezing point can potentially damage your home and force you to make costly repairs. Aside from that, these damages can also make everyone living in your home vulnerable to injury and disease.

These situations are easily prevented through proper winterization. Securing your property from the effects of cold climates is an integral part of being a homeowner. Using the right approaches, you can reduce the risk of damage, maintain a healthier environment for your family, as well as save money.

Here are a few things to keep your home in the best condition when the temperature dips to zero.

1. Seal up gaps and cracks

The most basic task in winterizing your home involves inspecting your home for small and narrow openings. Cold air can enter your home through cracks and gaps, so you should seal up these entry points before the weather gets colder.

You can also start by inspecting your windows and doors. Are there any cracks on the wood or the glass? Are there wide gaps between the frames and sidings? There are several ways you can fix these issues. For one, you can apply some caulk or a high-quality sealant to cover up any narrow openings. For larger gaps, caulk is simply not enough. You can apply foam weatherstripping instead to cover larger areas and close up wider gaps.

2. Reinforce your windows and doors

If caulking and weatherstripping your windows and doors aren’t enough to keep the draft away, you may as well reinforce these using additional materials. For instance, you can cover your windows with a thick plastic cover to capture cold air and prevent it from entering your home.

Another neat trick you can apply is to use old rugs and thick fabrics to cover your windows and doors. These will keep your rooms warm by absorbing cold air and preventing heat escape. This will work best during night time when you want to keep warmth from flowing out.

Then again, if you have enough resources, you can always install storm windows. These can come in handy during strong drafts and in keeping your home properly insulated for the winter months.

3. Check your attic and basement

Icy weather can easily enter your home through the attic or basement. Come to think of it, these areas are the most vulnerable to the cold and, for that matter, are driving up your home heating costs.

That being said, your main priorities in winterizing your home should also include checking the attic and basement for leaks. You can always do a candle test to check if there are any gaps you will need to close up. For this, simply light a candle and place it near windows, doors, and floorboards. If the flame flickers, then you have a located a possible entry point.

Obviously, you can seal these gaps using high-quality caulk and sealants. For best results, you can add the right R-value insulation to the walls and ceiling. For this, spray foam is great for preventing heat escape.

4. Inspect for pests

Pests such as mice will spend more time inside and will seldom venture out into the cold. That being said, these critters bring in various diseases and nibble away at the cables and wires of your appliances.

If you have identified a pest problem, make sure to use safer extermination methods. You can use non-chemical strategies such as placing cotton balls coated in peppermint oil near entry points. Still, the best way you can handle a mice problem is simply cover up any entrances that exist throughout the property.

5.  Protect your plumbing

Winter isn’t a good time for your water and drainage pipes as freezing temperatures can weaken your plumbing system. Without the proper preparations in place, it’s very likely that your pipes will burst. You can only imagine the cost of replacing damaged pipes and dealing with water damage in the long run.

Pipes that run across your attic, basement and other unheated around the house are at greater risk of freezing over. Taking the time to inspect your pipes in these areas and applying the right measures early on can help you avoid the need for unnecessary (and relatively avoidable) repairs.

There are several ways you can protect your pipes from freezing. For one, you can improve insulation in these areas. You can provide additional insulation to the walls. For added protection for your pipes, you can wrap these in polyethylene or fiberfill. You can then secure the insulation using duct tape.

6. Check your roof and gutters

Before the first snowfall arrives, you will have to provide your roof with extra protection against the cold. Freezing can wear down your roof, resulting in leaks through which cold air can enter and making it harder to winterize your home.

You can start by climbing up to the roof and check for damages and other issues that could weaken this part of your house. If you see indications of mold and deformities, you may as well deal with these issues right away before they get any worse. For leaks and cracks, simply patch these up using a heavy-duty sealant or caulk. To prevent your roof from future damages, you will need to trim the branches of trees that are scraping the shingles. On that note, you can replace missing shingles and flashing.

Heavy snowfall can be a significant hazard. Too much snow on your roof can run down and drop on unsuspecting victims below. Installing a snow guard can help prevent such situations from happening. It works by dropping snow in smaller amounts rather than releasing large chunks of it in one go. With a snow guard, you can protect people from injuries caused by so-called roof avalanches.

After you’re done with the roof itself, you should also clean out the gutters. Make sure to get rid of leaves and other impediments that clog up your downspouts. To be sure, you can run water through your gutters and downspouts. If the water doesn’t flow as smoothly as it used to, then you will have to fix the issue right away.

7. Improve your HVAC

When it comes to protecting your home from colder climates, an effective HVAC system is definitely your best bet in preventing your home from freezing over. In fact, the HVAC is your primary shield against the cold, so it would make sense to keep it in proper working condition.

For this, you should be able to upgrade your current HVAC system and, at the same time, make sure it doesn’t cost you a lot in monthly heating bills. You can first consider the size of your home. If your home is a standard mid-range property, then installing larger heating equipment isn’t the right way to go.

Temperature control is also important, so opt for an energy-efficient programmable thermostat which works best with a recently upgraded HVAC system. Another benefit of a programmable thermostat is that it allows you to adjust the indoor temperature relative to the area, or what is commonly known as zone heating.

Aside from an upgraded thermostat, you should also focus on checking your furnace every once in a while. This would involve cleaning out the ducts and furnace filters. Moreover, if you have HVAC units in your house, it’s still important to protect them from the cold weather. From time to time, check your units and ensure that they are free from frost, snow, and other debris. The best thing you can do is cover the HVAC unit with a tarp or an insulating material. At any rate, you will still need an HVAC expert to give you more suggestions on how best to protect your units from the frost.

8.  Turn off irrigation systems

You already know what the cold weather can do to your indoor plumbing system. You can only imagine the amount of punishment your irrigation system will have to go through outside! When temperatures reach record lows, you can expect your irrigation lines to leak out or burst as water freezes over and expands. It makes for a very costly fix that also takes a long time to complete.

You can easily avoid this problem by simply cutting off the water supply to fountains, hoses, and your sprinkler system. It’s also important to clear out your water lines of any remaining water. The cold temperature will cause it to expand and clog up your irrigation. That being said, you can use an air compressor to blow out the remaining water until the lines run dry.  It’s a simple way to winterize your irrigation system without getting a contractor to help you out.

Winterizing your home doesn’t have to be a mind-numbing task. With these tips in mind, you can protect your property from freezing over.

For more tips and tricks on home maintenance, be sure to check our blog for updated content. Contact me, Roz Booker, your premier real estate professional serving Collin County and surrounding DFW cities to help you narrow your decision to purchase new construction or a pre-existing home: 972-679-9311, Roz@ArbrookRealty.com, www.arbrookrealty.com

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