6 Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Winter
If you live in the Northeast, you know that winters can be brutal. Considering that we gravitate to our warm, cozy homes for shelter and protection this time of year, it might be surprising that your house can actually suffer just as much as you do from the cold! If you're planning to hunker down and stay indoors, or if you're trying to keep a seasonal home safe from the elements, there are several tips to keep in mind to make sure your winter is enjoyable for both you and your abode!
1. Insulate Your Pipes
Water expands as it freezes. If water freezes in your pipes, they expand too! Pipes that stretch beyond their limits are prone to cracking and rupturing. This can easily cause expensive damage to the basement and interior.
Since frozen pipes are a pain to deal with, the best way to manage them is to prevent freezing in the first place! Before leaving, make a run to your local hardware store to get piping wraps. You'll want to make sure that you wrap your pipes thoroughly with insulation, especially in areas that are exposed to cold drafty air.
And if you haven’t already, disconnect your outdoor faucets and hoses and let water in them drain out. This will significantly reduce the likelihood of pipes freezing!
2. Set the Heat
It might sound counter-intuitive to have the heat on while you're away, but keeping the house a little bit heated will protect your plumbing! We’d recommend setting the thermostat no lower than 55°F when you're away.
If you have a programmable thermostat, you can set it to be 55°F at certain times, such as at night or when you know you'll be out of town.
3. Keep the Fans Running
What you might not know is that in addition to keeping the furnace running, however minimally, you can also turn on your ceiling fans to keep the house warm.
Spinning fans, when running in the opposite direction (aka, clockwise), will actually help warm air move downward from the ceiling into the surrounding room.
4. Clear Ice Dams and Blockages
After the first cold spell or snowstorm, those icicles dangling from your gutters and roof can look stunning. But they can also be a sign of impending damage.
Icicles can actually be an indication that an ice dam has formed somewhere in your gutter. Ice dams are essentially piles of water or melted ice that freeze again when the temperature drops. They generally form when heat comes through the roof and warms any surrounding water just enough during the day so that it melts. But when temperatures drop again, the water freezes. When it does, the debris behind it has nowhere to go.
Instead of draining as it would in warmer temperatures, it simply accumulates and traps water with it. If left unchecked, this situation can eventually cause a leak in your roof!
5. Inspect Your Fireplace
There's almost nothing better than coming home to a warm fire at the end of a long winter day. However, some maintenance is required on your end to make sure your fireplace is warm and inviting, not dangerous.
Call a professional for a thorough chimney inspection, they’ll be able to sweep out any old debris that could make you start coughing, or worse, start a fire unexpectedly. When your fireplace is not in use, ensure the damper is closed to prevent warm air from escaping (which in turn prevents astronomical utility bills).
6. Seal Doors and Windows
Wind and cold air find their way through even the smallest cracks and crevices. Therefore, taking the time to properly insulate your doors and windows can go a long way in retaining heat. You'll also find that insulating your home reduces the cost of your utility bills, as a warmer interior keeps the furnace from running too often. If you have an older home, consider upgrading to double-pane doors and windows to retain heat.
Winter weather is often delightful. But if you're not prepared, it can be frightful. Fortunately, there are many simple steps you can take on your own to keep your home warm, safe, and problem-free!