Protect your home from winter weather - Part 1

Ready the interior of your home for winter weather. Three areas to focus on:

  • Furnace and Other Heat Sources.  Residential fires in the winter months are often related to faulty heating equipment. Check, clean, and service your furnace, fireplace, wood stove, and space heater. Never use the kitchen stove or oven to heat the house. Move combustibles (home decor, newspapers, funiture, etc.) at least three feet from heat sources. Burn only hardwood in your fireplace or woodstove to prevent creosote build-up. Discard cooled ashes in a sealed metal container.
  • Water Pipes.  Interior water pipes are vulnerable to freezing. A frozen pipe may burst, causing water damage to your home and personal property. Locate the main water shutoff valve and know how it works. Insulate water pipes that run through unheated spaces (basement, garage, attic). Let faucets drip when temperatures tumble. Set the inside temperature to 65 degrees to keep water pipes in exterior walls warm. Turn the water off at the main shutoff valve if a pipe freezes. Call a plumber for help thawing the frozen mass.
  • Attic Ventilation.  Warm attic air may cause snow and ice on the roof to melt, refreeze, and back up beneath shingles. Interior damage is likely if this water seeps inside. Insulate and ventilate your attic so that warm air can escape.

Be sure the exterior of your home can handle snow, ice, wind, and bitter cold in the coming weeks. Five areas to winterize before winter weather arrives:

  • Faucets.  Undrained outdoor water faucets may freeze, expand, and burst pipes. Turn off each outdoor faucet at its internal shutoff valve. Detach the garden hose and sprinkler. Move this equipment inside for the winter.
  • Gutters.  Clogged gutters prevent rain and melting snow or ice from flowing off the roof. Water that cannot get away may back up under the shingles, refreeze, and form an ice dam. As trapped ice melts, there may be damage to your walls, ceilings, insulation, siding, or foundation. Keep gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and debris.
  • Roof and Siding.  Strong winds may rip loose shingles or siding off the house. Check shingles, siding, flashing, and caulking. Attach, repair, or replace unfastened materials. Excess snow is heavy. Roof joists may collapse under a massive accumulation of snow or ice. Hire a professional to remove excessive snow (1-2 feet) or ice (4 inches).
  • Trees.  Limbs covered with ice and snow may fall, causing damage to your roof, deck, siding, or windows. Trim overhanging branches,
  • Patio/Deck.  Outdoor furniture and gear can blow through a window or cause other damage. Move items to a wind-protected location.