Although that first real blast of winter’s chill may not hit until after the holidays, the sooner you prepare your house, the more peace of mind you’ll enjoy. With these simple tips, you can winterize with the best of them — and then sit back and relax with a cup of hot chocolate!
Start with the basics: your home’s heating and plumbing systems. A broken furnace or frozen pipes are winter woes that can be easily avoided with routine heating and plumbing maintenance. Test your heating systems by running them for about 30 minutes, which is just long enough to hear unusual noises that may indicate a problem that may need further attention. If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly, and when water appears, close them again.
Whether you have a central heating unit or furnace, be sure to clean and/or change the filters on a regular basis – usually monthly while the unit is in regular operation, depending on the type of filter it takes. Don’t neglect this very simple task that you can perform pretty easily yourself, because dirty filters can lead to dire problems.
Houdini had nothing on the escape artistry of heat — a master at finding its way out of your home. It’s a good idea to check out all the ‘usual suspects,’ such as doors and windows, before it gets cold. You’ll know if they’re in such bad shape that they need replacing, but in most cases good weather stripping can be an effective and much less pricey solution to keeping your family warm this winter. Another culprit when it comes to heat loss can be your home’s chimney and fireplace. Check that the damper-flue system opens and closes fully, and that it is able to be locked in the closed position. Also, make sure that chimney drafts properly. The smoke should draw upward cleanly. If it does not, check to see if you’ve got a nest of birds, rodents or other small animals up there. If it has been several years since you’ve had your fireplace chimney cleaned, you may want to have it done by a professional chimney sweep — definitely not a DIY project!
When it comes to plumbing, insulation is king. Pipes, especially the ones that are most likely to freeze, like those near or against an outside wall or in areas of your home that are not heated like the basement or crawl spaces — need to be properly insulated. Outside faucets can also freeze easily, so make sure exposed plumbing fixtures are protected as well. Everyone in the household should know where the shutoff valve is in case a pipe bursts and you need to turn off the water for the whole house. Finally, you may want to consider buying a TotalProtect home warranty plan, a bit of preemptive planning that can save you money in the long run and help to ensure you stay warm and toasty in your house all winter long.
The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.