Preparing your home for winter is just as important as keeping yourself warm during the coldest months
Our homes are built to withstand general weather disturbances throughout the year, but when it comes to sub-freezing temperatures, it is time to take a few precautions.
Some winter preparation tasks you can perform; others should be left for professionals. For instance, an experienced furnace inspector should give your unit the onceover each season. If it's gas, he will light it for you and make sure everything is in good working order. Don't put off repairs; have them taken care of immediately.
The chimney should be cleaned annually if you use anything by seasoned hardwood. Otherwise, have a chimney sweep in to clean out the buildup, which can become combustible. You may be able to skip a year if you're using only seasoned hardwood.
Before the cold winds come rattling through your home, check for drafty areas and take care of cracks with the appropriate caulk.
Add extra mulch to flower beds and other exposed landscaping areas. Rake up those pesky leaves and pile them on the beds; they'll make a comfortably warm blanket as well.
Birds and other creatures need a little more help in winter, too. Pick up a bag of seed to spread out when ice and snow cover the ground.
When you're expecting the worst of the worst - an ice storm or several days of sub-freezing temperatures - here are a few additional precautions.
-Keep extra bags of sand on hand for sidewalks and driveways. Avoid salt, if possible, as it eats through metal and concrete and can kill plants.
-Remove and drain all outside hoses; roll them up and store them away from the elements.
-Make sure the area around your heating system is clear of trash and cleaning products.
-Use old rags and duct tape to wrap outside faucets.
-Close off rooms you do not use and prepare to dress warmly rather than relying completely on your heating system.
-If your garage is unheated, insulate exposed pipes and purchase a "blanket" for the water heater.
-Let water faucets drip. Insulate interior pipes that are against an outside wall and leave the cabinets and doors open. If pipes freeze, set up a space heater or use a hair dryer to help thawing.
-Do not rely on the oven for extra heat. It can emit noxious, if not lethal, fumes.
-No space heaters in bathrooms. Excessive humidity and proximity to a water source are dangerous combinations.
-If you are near a fire hydrant, make sure it is cleared of snow and yard debris. You want the fire department to locate it quickly in case of fire.
This is just a short list of warmth and safety precautions. Use common sense and perform these tasks before the onset of inclement weather and your home should be well-protected from the worst of winter's elements.
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