Winterizing Tips for Homeowners That Will Save You Time, Frustration, Money – and Your Life

The snow has already begun to fly in various parts of the country, and now you’re looking forward to snuggling on the couch with a good book in front of a warm fire. But before you get too comfortable, make sure that your house is winterized for this coming winter.

There are many easy, inexpensive winterizing activities you need to do around your home fairly soon — Things that can save you time, frustration, money and even your life! Unless you live in the tropics, the time to consider the annual ritual of winterizing your home is now – before it’s too late and:

– A tree limb is blown down in a blizzard and shatters your picture window.

– A mailman injures his wrist when he falls on your slippery sidewalk – or even worse, seeing your wife or kids desperately trying to get up off the ground and yelling for your help.

– A cold snap freezes the water in your basement laundry room’s pipes, making them burst.

– A friend comes over for a holiday get together, and gets an unpleasant surprise. As she enters the house, accumulated ice over the entryway falls on her head, giving her a concussion.

– You open your heating bills and have a cardiac arrest – because they’re so high.

Here is some easy and inexpensive home winterizing activities you can do yourself to help your family enjoy a safe, warm and cozy winter.

– To prevent water from building up and freezing in your gutters, clean dead leaves and other debris from them.

– Make sure all your outside faucets that are not frost-free are shut off and drained to avoid freezing and/or pipe breakage. You should also insulate exposed pipes near insulated walls.

– To ensure sufficient heat and minimize the risk of fire, make sure that your furnace is clean and check to see if it is working properly. Don’t forget to examine the pipe bringing fuel to the furnace as well.

– Properly maintain your storm windows and doors. Be sure your storm windows and doors are functional so if in the event they need to be opened during the winter, they work. Seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors with weather-stripping and caulk to avoid unnecessary heat loss. Gaps in caulk and weather-stripping can account for a 10% of your heating bills.

– Be sure that your furnace is cleaned and properly maintained including the flue stack and chimney before the outset of winter. You should also buy a new filter that matches the specifications of your furnace exactly. Make sure, you read the packaging material to see how many months your filter shall last. If it says a month, then change it again in a month. While you are up the chimney, you should also install a screen over it to prevent future clogging.

– Check all of your windows and feel the edges for any breezes or cool air coming through. Check the windowpanes for condensation or frost on the inside. Windows that form condensation, form frost over, or ones that you can feel a breeze need to be treated with weathering plastic.

– Power wash mold from all stone or concrete walkways to avoid unnecessary slippery conditions if wet. Also, be sure to have an ample supply of traction sand and melting salt in accessible places with a proper dispensing tool.

– Get on top of roof problems. Inspect your roof for damaged or curled shingles, corroded flashing, or leaky vents. Fail to do this and you may end up with chunks of wet ceiling dropping on your head. Signs of roof trouble include loose shingles in your yard, granules in your gutter, and worn or torn shingles or flashing.

– Trim your trees and cut down any weak branches – that can fall and injure you or damage your property.

Even if you live in more “temperate” weather zones, you should take time to look around your home to see what needs attention. Some useful winterizing ideas include:

– Schedule your furnace inspection

– Change your air conditioning filters

– Clean your heating vents

– Test your smoke alarm

– Change your smoke alarm batteries.

Winterizing your home is generally not optional, although there can be aspects of it you can skip if saving hundreds to thousands of dollars isn’t an issue for you and your family.

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