1. Invest in weather stripping
Weather stripping is a good way to help seal warm air in and cold air out of your home. Available in almost any hardware store, weather stripping installs quickly around windows and doors and can help prevent air leaks. Before winter arrives, check the following parts of your home for leaks or drafts:
- Vents and fans
- Plumbing areas
- Air conditioners
- Mail chutes
- Electrical and gas lines
2. Clean your gutters
Clear gutters help drain water away from your roof and your house. If they’re clogged however, especially in colder months, they’re more apt to freeze, causing additional blockages. Blocked gutters can allow melting ice to seep into your roof, or flood your home’s foundation, causing damage.
3. Evaluate your roof to prevent ice dams
While a roofing professional is cleaning the gutters, see if he or she can evaluate your roof for ice dams too. In cold weather, heat escaping your home can melt and refreeze ice on your roof, leading to ice dams. These block off drains, and let water and ice continually build up on your roof – and possibly under it – weakening your roof and putting your home at risk.
To help prevent ice dams:
- – Your attic should have plenty of insulation to prevent too much heat transfer from your living areas to the attic. Check parts of the attic that may not be well insulated, like:
- Pipes and vents
- Chimney systems
- Light fixtures
- – If your attic wasn’t built with a ventilation system, contact a trusted professional or contractor about ventilating your attic before winter. Proper ventilation allows cold air into the attic, while the insulation seals heat in your living areas. This can help prevent warm air from melting ice on the roof, leading to possible damage.
4. Prune trees around the house
If there are long tree branches hanging near your house, your roof, or your gutters, prune them before it gets too cold. Branches broken from ice can cause all kinds of damage to your home. A few hours with the pruner now could save you thousands of dollars in damages later this winter.
5. Stock up on basics
You know what happens when the news calls for bad weather; stores flood with people, all buying milk, bread, batteries, flashlights, and duct tape by the truck load. How do you avoid this mess? Stock up on basic supplies before winter, and stay cozy in your home.
6. Protect pipes from freezing
According to the IIBHS, a burst pipe can cause more than $5,000 in water damage! Thankfully, you can do something to help protect your pipes from freezing in bitter cold weather. Don’t turn the heat down too much when you’re out of the house. You may not be there to enjoy it, but your pipes need the heat to prevent freezing. Let faucets drip during serious cold snaps to provide relief for your pipes.
Give your home a once over for any exposed or vulnerable piping, and wrap them with insulation. Hardware stores usually carry foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves for pipes, which are easy to install.
Caulk up cracks or holes in your walls to keep cold air away from pipes. This might not be practical for the average homeowner, so speak to a trusted contractor.
If your pipes do freeze, and water stops flowing from faucets, call a plumber immediately!