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  • Writer's pictureBrian Harm

6 ways to get your home ready for winter

Winter is on the way, and the impending cold weather brings special home maintenance concerns with it like frozen pipes and an increased risk of house fires. Here are some ways to prepare your home for the freezing temperatures ahead:

1) Protect The Pipes Water expands as it freezes, and if it freezes inside a pipe it could burst that pipe. The resulting damage can require expensive repairs. Consider the following steps to prevent such damage:• Insulate water pipes that run through unheated places like an attic or garage • Drain water from outdoor sprinkler systems and faucets • Cover outdoor faucets with foam insulators and store outdoor hoses in the garage • If the weather forecast predicts extreme cold, let the faucets drip overnight so the water doesn’t freeze

2) Check the Heating and Air Systems Air conditioners and heating systems generally last between 12 and 15 years. Hire a reputable HVAC contractor to check your system before the weather gets really cold. Also, change the filter at the start of the cold season. Get a programmable thermostat if you don’t already have one. You can save money by programming it to be cooler at night or when you’re not home and warmer in the morning.

3) Have Your Chimney Cleaned If you have a fireplace, you need to have to a chimney sweep inspect it and clean it out before using it. The more often you make a fire, the more often you need to have your chimney cleaned. Many people recommend having the chimney cleaned once a year. If you use your fireplace only a few times per winter, you can have it cleaned once every three years – but no less than that.

4) Improve Home’s Energy Efficiency. Hire a professional energy auditor. They will look for ventilation or drainage problems that can impair a building’s energy efficiency. The energy auditor will then advise you on what changes you can make. Some of those changes can be fairly simple and inexpensive like caulking around windows or putting weather stripping around doors. If your home is older, you may still have uninsulated doors or single-pane windows. Replacing these with insulated doors and double- or triple-pane windows will make your home more energy efficient.

5) Clean and Store Lawn Equipment The fuel in gas-powered machines, like mowers or chippers, degrades over time and can eventually damage the fuel lines and other parts. Empty out all the fuel and dispose of it properly. Clean the machine and sharpen its blades. Then store the machinery and tools in a covered and enclosed area.

6) Clean the Gutters After the leaves have fallen, clean the gutters and downspouts. Clogged gutters can cause overflow and ice dams in the winter. Ice dam, are very dangerous and destructive to your home, roof, and foundation. The best way to avoid ice dams is to make sure your gutters are cleared before the freezing temperatures hit.

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