Thursday, November 15, 2012

Is your home ready for Winter?

As the days grow cooler, it is time to prepare your home for winter.  Whether you rent or own, you need to take some precautions to save money and avoid having to wait for maintenance crews to come to you!  Don't wait until the first hard freeze to protect your pipes or check your heating system.  Below you will find a list of items to consider:

1.       Clean your chimney - A wood-burning fireplace or stove may be cozy, but creosote buildup can block the flow of smoke and cause chimney fires and carbon-monoxide poisoning.  If your chimney hasn’t had a recent inspection, now is the time.

2.    Replace furnace filters - A dirty air filter reduces heat and airflow, which can lead to expensive repairs.  Check the air filter in the furnace or heat pump at least quarterly. Have a pro check the system bi-annually (about $120 per visit), tightening electrical connections, lubricating moving parts, and checking drains, controls, and connections for oil and gas systems.  This can save you about $200 to $300 or more for service calls and repairs, plus the discomfort and risk of frozen pipes if your home’s heating system shuts off. 

3. Clear gutter clogs - Gutters stuffed with leaves, pine needles, and other debris can let water spill over the side, pool around your home’s foundation, and seep inside. Water that freezes in gutters can force snow and ice into roof shingles, causing damage and leaks. Consider a gutter-guard system to keep debris out and water in. Make sure that gutter drains extend 5 feet from the house—and that soil slopes away from the foundation 1 inch per foot for 6 feet or more. Whether you have gutter guards or not, we recommend having gutters cleaned and roof blown off at least twice a year: once after the fall leaves have fallen, then again at the end of spring.

4.       Close your hoses - Pipes can burst when water inside expands as it freezes, creating an expensive mess in your home.  Shut off inside valves that control water flow to hose spigots. Then briefly open the spigots to drain any leftover water in pipes and hoses.  Also drain water from supply lines for water sprinklers and pools, and shut off inside valves that control them.  It is also helpful to cover the hose spigot with an insulated cover that can be purchased at Home Depot for about $3 to $4 each.  By doing these you can potentially save thousands of dollars in plumbing repairs and water damage, especially if pipes burst and cause a flood while you’re away.
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