10 Winter Maintenance Tips to Protect Your Home

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With snow finally here, if you haven’t already done so, it's time to take a few steps to help prepare your home for all that winter brings with it.  Follow the steps below as suggested by Farmers Insurance company to ensure you are maintaining your home!
 

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.

Check the following parts of your home for leaks or drafts:

  • Windows

  • Doors

  • Vents and fans

  • Plumbing areas

  • Air conditioners

  • Mail chutes

  • Electrical and gas lines


2. Clean your gutters

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Although this is best to do in the late fall before the snow hits, if you haven’t done yet, doing it now can help prevent a major disaster later. Clean gutters help drain water away from your roof and your house. If they're clogged, they're more apt to freeze causing additional blockages. Blocked gutters can allow melting ice and snow to seep into your roof or flood your home's foundation causing damage.


3. Evaluate your roof to prevent ice dams

While a 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 and snow 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:

  • Insulate your attic - 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
       

  • Ventilate your attic - 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. Buy a roof rake to keep snow from building up

According to the Insurance Institue for Business and Home Safety, an average roof can handle up to four feet of fresh snow before it’s stressed. However, as snow packs down from multiple storms, your roof could collapse!

If you expect a lot of snow this winter, invest in a roof rake. It can help you easily clear snow off your roof and protect your home during those blizzard months.


5. Prune trees around the house

If there are long tree branches hanging near your house, your roof, or your gutters, prune them before damage occurs. Branches broken from heavy snow and 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..


6. 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 now, and stay cozy in your home.

Strong winds, blizzards, ice, and snow can cause blackouts and power outages, which can wreak havoc on your home in the winter. 


7. 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!

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8. Reverse your ceiling fans.

Turning your fans clockwise is a secret to saving money on heat in the winter since it will stop the warm air from rising, keeping it down where you want it to be. But how do you do this? Most ceiling fans have a switch that you can simply flip to reverse it—if the switch is not easily accessible on the outside of the fan, it may be somewhere inside.

9. Get a fireplace inspection and chimney sweep

Similar to dryer hoses, clogged chimneys lead to house fires, but they can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Having a yearly inspection and chimney sweep may cost you money, but it could also save your life—so, make it happen. Additionally, make sure the flue on your chimney is fully functional so when the fireplace is not in use, you don't experience drafts.

10. Consider a generator.

A generator can help keep your heat and power -- as well as your sump pump, and your fire and burglar alarms -- running. It can help prevent frozen pipes and keep you a lot more comfortable, too. An automatic standby generator, which immediately turns on after a power outage, may qualify you for a discount on your homeowners insurance, too.

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