Winter is right around the corner – Is your home ready?

It’s not too late to make sure you home is ready for the cold weather and snow. Before the cold weather sets in, you should do a walk around the outside of your home to be sure there are no obvious signs of anything that will allow the cold or water into your home. If you notice anything that looks like it may allow cold air or water into your home, it should be repaired immediately before the really cold weather sets in.

Below is a list of actions you can take to be sure you and your family stay warm this winter, and to minimize expensive heating bills:

  • Make sure your roof gutters are clear, working properly, and are securely attached to your roof. If you see any sign of damage to the gutter system, it should be addressed and repaired before the temperatures start to dip below freezing.
  • Ensure there is nothing near the outlet of your roof gutter downspouts that could impede water flow or create an ice dam when the temperatures drop below freezing. Any debris such as leaves, mulch, or even grass growing too close to the opening of gutter downspouts can create ice dams. Constant freeze/thaw cycles can cause ice to form around this debris and then to back up into the outlet end of the gutter downspout – which can lead to the entire downspout freezing solid inside. If this happens, the downspout will likely remain frozen solid inside until the warmer spring temperatures arrive – so any water that collects in your roof gutters will have no place to go and will eventually freeze, creating ice dams in your gutters as well as under your roof line. If large ice dams form in your roof gutters, they can push the gutter away from the home. In an even more extreme scenario these ice dams may grow so thick and heavy that they literally pry and lift the roof away from the rest of the house, leading to expensive repairs.
  • Apply caulk or weatherstripping around the exterior of all windows to keep out the cold air.
  • Shut the water off to all outside spigots by closing the water shut off valves which feed the spigots – these shut off valves are located inside the home. Once this is done, be sure to then open the valve on the spigot itself (on the outside of the home) – this will allow the water trapped between the spigot and the shut off valve to drain, eliminating the possibility of this section of the pipe freezing and then bursting. Be sure to leave these outside spigots open all winter; in the event that you have a leaky shut off valve this will eliminate the possibility of the pipe inadvertently re-filling with water.
  • Fill any cracks in sidewalks or other walkways with concrete filler or concrete caulk, as these cracks will continue to expand and grow due to the freeze/thaw cycle.
  • Make sure you have a bag of salt, ice melt, or sand at the ready to put on any icy areas where people will be walking around your home.
  • Have your heating system serviced to be sure it is in good working order and ready to get you through the winter without any problems. Be sure to have any necessary maintenance or repairs done to your furnace before the cold weather sets in. Nothing is worse than waking up in the middle of a cold winter night to find that your furnace is not working!