We’ve been very fortunate to have an amazingly gentle entrance to our winter season thus far, so many of us have put off (or forgotten) some vital tasks around our homes. Old Man Winter can take a huge toll on the value of your biggest investment.
Here are things you should do, while it is still relatively warm, to prepare your home against his attacks!
1. The most important thing to make sure is service your heating system. Have a certified HVAC technician inspect your furnace or heat pump to make sure your system is clean and in good repair. The service tech can also check for damage to the system that could cause carbon-monoxide leaks.
2. Almost as important as your furnace is your roof. Check and repair loose, damaged or missing shingles. Also inspect the metal flashing in the valleys and around chimneys. Winter storms and melting snow can destroy and cause leaks leading to costly repairs and mold.
3. Check your gutters for leaves and other debris. You may have cleaned them when you raked the leaves this past autumn, but take another look, especially at the entrance holes to your downspouts. It doesn’t take many leaves to cover them and plug them up again. Backed up gutters can cause roof-destroying ice dams as well as leaks into the soffits of your home. Prevent a wet basement by making sure the gutters drain away from the foundation.
4. Check the seals of windows, door frames and siding. If gaps are bigger than the width of a nickel, reapply exterior caulk. Use silicone caulk for exterior because it won’t shrink, and it withstands the elements.
5. Don’t forget the chimney! A chimney carries dangerous gases from your fireplace, wood stove, water heater or furnace safely out of your home, keeping household air breathable. Have a certified chimney sweep inspect your chimney annually, and clean and repair it whenever needed. Remember, clean chimneys don’t catch fire, either.
6. Your garage door is the biggest entrance to your house, making it a potentially huge drain on your home’s energy efficiency. Close your garage door, and inspect it from the inside. Is there any light shining through anywhere? Check the edges of the door for air coming through. Open your garage door about halfway and inspect it for any rips or tears along the bottom seal. Check the batteries on the door opener keypads and remotes.
7. Make sure you’ve turned off and drained outside water faucets, disconnected hoses and drain them too. Undrained water in pipes can freeze, causing them to burst as the ice expands, often going undetected until spring, when the temperature rises above freezing and water flows, creating havoc!
8. Test your sump pump! Melting snow on frozen ground is a major cause of basement flooding. Test by pouring several gallons of water slowly into the sump pit. The pump should turn on and drain the water. Testing your sump pump is not just a winter task. It’s wise to do it several time a year. A sump pump lasts about 10 years, so if it’s nearing that mark it may be best to replace it.
9. If you haven’t done it already, trim branches away from roofs and electrical wires to prevent damage and power outages due to ice and wind.
The warmer early winter temperatures and the holidays may have lulled many of us to forget taking these precautions until now. If this is you, taking these steps now can save you from Old Man Winter’s icy consequences later.
Cheryl Parson is president of the Better Business bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at www.lima.bbb.org.