Preparing your home for winter is an important yearly chore for homeowners. For instance, did you know that adding insulation in your attic before winter arrives can help prevent ice dams this winter? And tuning up your heating system now can help prevent more costly emergency repairs at the middle of a storm, when it can be difficult to find supplies and contractors. The following winter maintenance tips can help you prepare your home to withstand another cold season. Don't forget the little things like changing your filters.
The Heating System
Have your furnace or boiler checked and serviced by a licensed contractor at least once a year, preferably before the heating season begins.
Clean or replace the furnace filter on forced hot air systems. Change filters.
Have your chimney checked and serviced by a licensed contractor at least once a year. Pay particular attention to having creosote buildup removed from chimneys servicing woodstoves and fireplaces.
Have your fuel tanks filled and keep an eye on levels throughout the winter.
Set your heat no lower than 55 degrees as the temperature inside the walls where water piping is located is colder than the living spaces; open doors to unoccupied rooms to keep an even temperature throughout the house.
Maintain your wood-burning or pellet stoves according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Add extra insulation in the attic to help guard against ice dams. If too much heat escapes into the attic, it can warm the ice and snow on the roof. When it refreezes, it can cause an ice dam, which can lead to water damage inside your home or possibly even a roof leaks or collapse.
Add weather stripping around doors and caulk windows to guard against drafts and heat loss.
Remove screens from windows and install storm windows, if appropriate.
Check your Utilities
Check for water leaks and fix problems immediately; wrap water piping in heat tape and insulate if it is exposed in unheated areas such as garages, crawl spaces or attics. Use only thermostatically controlled heat tape if your water piping is plastic, and follow the manufacturer's installation instructions.
Learn how to shut off your water and know where your pipes are located in case they do freeze; you may be able to prevent water damage.
Winter Safety Tips
Trim trees and remove dead branches so they do not rub against your home and damage your home or injure someone if they fall because of ice, snow or wind.
Keep gutters clear of debris to help ensure melting snow can drain properly. Make sure downspouts direct water away from the foundation.
Repair steps and handrails to make them safer in the ice and snow.
Check smoke detectors, fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and replace batteries to ensure they are operating properly. Or replace with the 10 year sealed battery type.
Key Supplies and Equipment
Make sure you have snow shovels on hand. Stock your ice melting compound or Kitty litter to melt ice on walkways.
Have your snow blower and generator serviced and any necessary repairs made.
Keep fuel for snow blowers and generators in approved safety containers and away from heat or flame-producing devices. Do not store fuel in your basement.