For most Americans, their home is the biggest investment they’ll make in their lives. Purchasing a home is a large step and a big commitment. Likewise, it’s a commitment and purchase they’ll want to protect.
Now that wintertime has set in, it’s important to realize how much Mother Nature can threaten that big investment. Cold weather can wreak havoc on a home that isn’t prepared to beat back the frigid forces of winter. Here are four important steps to take to winterize a home.
Get the furnace checked
As with anything mechanical, things can go wrong with a home’s heating system. Just as your car’s engine requires maintenance, so, too, do the mechanical components of your home. This includes the HVAC.
Chances are that your furnace hasn’t been put to the test by cold weather in months. It’s imperative for both your comfort and your home’s well-being that the furnace works. So it makes sense to have your home’s furnace checked by a professional to make sure it’s in good working order as the cold descends upon your home.
It’s not uncommon for thermostats to go bad or for blower motors to stop blowing. Having a reputable HVAC pro check the system out insures you against some of the hazards of those things happening at the least opportune time.
Prep the pipes
Depending on the style of your home, your plumbing can be at particular risk when it comes to cold weather.
Code in some places requires that pipes be insulated. If you have a crawl space or are on a slab, rather than a basement, the pipes in the bowels of your home might be more susceptible to the cold. Even with a basement, plumbing on exterior walls might be vulnerable.
You can purchase sensors that can be installed on existing plumbing that will alert you to any moisture or dangerously low temperatures that could cause damage to plumbing. A small investment in such sensors, or insulation of the pipes, could save you on large repair bills later. A frozen pipe can be a catastrophic (and expensive) event in any home.
Check for drafts
While not as catastrophic, structural deficiencies in a home that allow exterior air inside can be budget-busters. Windows and doorways are the primary culprits, the things in your home that are caulked against the intrusion of cold air but which can deteriorate over time and lead to excessive heating bills. Every bit of cold air that is allowed in costs you heating dollars that, quite literally, go out the window.
All it takes is a simple walk-through of your home to protect against these costly threats. If you examine windows and doors and can detect cold air or noticeable drafts, these breaches must be addressed with re-sealing lest you suffer unnecessary heating costs.
Clear the roof and gutters
A clogged gutter in the fall is one thing; water might pool up if there’s an obstruction in the path of rain that’s draining from your roof. In the winter, all it takes is one day of below-freezing temperatures to turn a blocked waterway into a damaging ice dam.
Your roof is designed to cascade water from its highest point, down the eaves and into the gutters, which send it away from the structure. If at any point, there is an obstruction to the flow, there’s a risk of freezing water doing damage to siding, shingles or gutters. It’s important to make sure your home, from the top down, is free of any impediments to the flow of water.
At least some of this might seem like common sense, but you might be surprised at the number of homeowners who, each winter, face expensive and disturbing cold-weather damage to their homes. Taking a few steps toward winterizing your most precious possession, your home, can help guard against that kind of scenario.