Are You Ready for This Winter?

September 28, 2011 at 9:04 AM | Posted in Home, Personal Insurance | Leave a comment
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Remember the stories our parents used to tell us?  “We walked 10 miles through raging blizzards to get to school.”  Thankfully, schools allow for snow days, but for a homeowner there is no “day off due to snow.”  The time to prepare your home for the upcoming winter season is now.

Take the necessary precautions and implement these tips every year so you’ll be ready for the unpredictable events of a harsh winter:

1.  Furnace Inspection

  • Hire a licensed HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and clean ducts.
  • Stock up on furnace filters and change them monthly.
  • If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly and when water appears, close them.
  • Remove all flammable material from the area surrounding your furnace.

2.  Get the Fireplace Ready

  • Cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds.
  • Hire a professional chimney sweep to clean your chimney to remove soot and creosote and to inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing.
  • Stock up on firewood. Store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home.

3.  Inspect Roof, Gutters, and Downspouts

  • Adding extra insulation to the attic will prevent warm air from creeping to your roof and causing ice dams.
  • Check flashing to ensure water cannot enter the home.
  • Replace worn roof shingles or tiles.
  • Clean out the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away debris.

4.  Service Your Weather-Specific Equipment

  • Drain gas from lawnmowers.
  • Service or tune-up snow blowers.
  • Replace worn rakes and snow shovels.
  • Clean, dry, and store summer gardening equipment.
  • Sharpen ice choppers and buy bags of ice-melt / sand.

5.  Check Foundations

  • Rake all debris and vegetation away from the foundation.
  • Seal up entry points to keep small animals from crawling under the house.
  • Seal foundation cracks. Mice can slip through a space as thin as a dime.
  • Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation.
  • Secure crawlspace entrances.

6.  Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  • Buy extra smoke detector batteries and change them when daylight savings ends.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and / or water heater.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work.
  • Buy a fire extinguisher and replace extinguishers older than 10 years.

7.  Prevent Plumbing Freezes

  • Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency.
  • Drain all garden hoses.
  • Insulate exposed plumbing pipes.
  • Drain air conditioner pipes and, if your AC has a water shut-off valve, turn it off.
  • If you go on vacation, leave the thermostat set to at least 55 degrees.

Our parents also told us, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We wish all of our clients a safe and loss-free winter season.

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