Winter weather can wreak havoc on your home. Snow, ice, and wintery winds have the potential to damage your house in a number of ways. That’s why it’s important to take preventative steps to protect your home from “Old Man Winter.” These steps include:
- Protecting your fireplace – Place a cap or a screen on top of your chimney. This will keep out animals, birds, and anything else that you don’t want going down your chimney like snow and fallen tree branches. Have your chimney cleaned and get a professional to check your damper to make sure that it opens and closes properly. Also have him check the mortar and brickwork and fix any problems in the masonry so it can stand up to the tough winter weather. Replace or add flashing to seal any gaps between the chimney and house structure.
- Protecting the outside of the home – Look for any cracks around entry points to the home such as where pipes or outside wiring enters the structure. Seal them. Weather strip or caulk around the doors and windows to keep out cold air. If you have a basement, install plastic shields around the window wells. Replace your screens with storm windows if you have them, and fix any broken glass to protect your home from the winter weather. Trim any tree branches that touch the house or hang over your roof. These can be knocked down by heavy snowfall, winds, or ices storms and damage your home.
- Protecting the roof, gutters, and downspouts – Add insulation to your attic. Add roof vents to increase airflow under the roof and maintain a constant temperature between the eaves and the rest of the roof. This will help to prevent ice dams. Check or add flashing where needed. Caulk any entry holes to seal gaps. Replace any worn shingles. Clean out your gutters and downspouts to keep them from overflowing or causing ice dams. Install leaf guards to keep debris out of your gutters that could cause water back-ups and damage your roof or cause water leaks inside your home.
- Protecting your foundation – Rake away any debris and vegetation from around your home’s foundation. Seal up any entry points where wiring or pipes enter the home with caulk, flashing, or insulation to keep out water and ice. Seal any cracks in the foundation to keep ice from cracking it any further. Insulate and caulk any crawl space entrances. Seal around any outside doors to the basement as well.
- Protecting your plumbing – Shut off the water main to your sprinkler system and outside faucets. Have a professional blow out the excess water from your sprinkler system with an air compressor to keep the outside plumbing from freezing and cracking. Insulate any exposed pipes with pipe insulation. Drain the air conditioner pipes and turn off the AC water valve if it has one. If your home will not be occupied for a while, leave the heat set to at least 55 degrees to keep the pipes from freezing.
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