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10 Tips for Homeowners to Brace for Old Man Winter

T.E. Cunningham Image

Now that the warmer days of autumn are dwindling down, it’s time to prepare for Old Man Winter to rear his head. As the temperature heads south on the thermometer, it’s time to make sure your home is winterized.

  1. Make sure gutters are cleaned out and ready for the rain, snow and freezing drizzle that is around the corner. Here is a thought: install leaf guards, which means you don’t have to do this again! Also, while you are up that high on the ladder, take a quick glance to make sure the summer winds and rains didn’t knock any shingles off the house.

  2. Drafts can kill your energy bill, so check all windows and doors for cracks. Weatherstrip the doors and caulk the windows to fix issues. Make sure none of your glass panes are cracked; if so, have them repaired before the cold weather hits. It is also time to remove screens from windows and doors where applicable and put glass panes back up.

  3. Check your exterior foundation. Make sure there are no cracks that need sealing. If you get rain or have struggled with water in your basement, make sure there is plenty of dirt built upon the foundation.

  4. Perform a quick check outside. Look for branches hanging over the home or driveway, as falling frozen limbs can cause significant damage to homes and automobiles. Also check for limbs that may be growing too close to power lines.

  5. Get your furnace inspected! That said, don’t spend money having them change the filters - you can do it yourself – how often depends on your particular home, but most experts recommend somewhere between every 30-90 days. The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, "Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary." This is the national safety standard and is the correct way to approach the problem, according to The Chimney Safety Institute of America.

  6. If you have not already done so, install a programmable thermostat and save big on energy bills.  

  7. Avoid winter freezes on your pipes. Any exposed pipe should be wrapped in insulation or insulated heating tape.

  8. If you have a fireplace, get it inspected and cleaned by a chimney sweep; have the sweep check the damper as well to make sure it’s working correctly. Don’t take a chance on this one - safety always comes first. Ensure that you have a screen or cap on the top of your chimney to keep the critters out!

  9. Think about contacting an insulation company to come out and complete a walk-through on what options might be available for further insulating your home to increase energy savings.

  10. Make sure you have the right cold weather equipment and supplies handy and in good working condition: a snow shovel or snow blower, rock salt or sand, coveralls, insulated work gloves and such.
These tips should go a long way to covering you for the bitter winds and snow that will inevitably head our way a few times this winter. Until next time, stay warm!

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