In many parts of the country, Old Man Winter is on his way. Make sure your home and property are ready to greet this annual visitor. If you haven’t already, complete these tasks soon to protect your investment and your loved ones.
Trim the Trees
Nothing is as pretty as a sparkling, snow-covered tree … unless it lands on your home or vehicle. Cut down dead trees that could fall and damage your property or hurt people. Remove dead branches and limbs. Trim branches that are touching your home or could rub against it once coated with ice. Also keep trees trimmed enough so that branches don’t provide pathways for wildlife looking for a cozy spot to spend the winter, like your attic.
Clear the Gutters
Remove leaves and other debris from your eavestroughs and downspouts so that water can be safely diverted from your home and its foundation. Debris-filled gutters can lead to ice damming, where water freezes and backs up under the roof shingles. This can lead to insulation, ceiling and wall damage. A little work now can save a lot of work later.
Inspect the Roof
Look for loose shingles and flashing; missing, damaged or improperly supported gutters and downspouts; and missing or damaged vent covers. If anything is on the roof that shouldn’t be there, remove it. Have a qualified roofer make repairs as necessary.
Clean the Chimney
If you use a wood-burning stove or fireplace, have a qualified inspector examine your chimney annually to make sure it is clean and safe for use. Over time creosote, a tarry byproduct of burning wood, can build up in the chimney if not addressed. The substance is highly flammable and poses a serious fire risk. A chimney fire can soon become a house fire, so don’t risk it.
Service the Furnace
Make sure you not only stay warm this winter but also stay safe. Gas- and oil-burning furnaces produce carbon monoxide. If this odorless gas builds up in your home, it can make you sick—or worse. Have the furnace inspected by a qualified technician to make sure it is working properly. While you are at it, change the air filter and test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Test the Generator
If you have a generator, make sure it is in good working order. If you have a portable generator, make sure it has fuel. Remember that these devices create deadly fumes and contribute to carbon monoxide poisoning if used incorrectly. They must only be used outside and should remain at least 20 feet away from windows, doors and vents.
Prevent Frozen Pipes
Before the cold sets in, make sure exposed pipes (e.g., in crawl spaces, near outside walls, etc.) are insulated. Consider wrapping them with UL-approved heat tape. Also, shut off water to outside spigots and drain the pipes to prevent them from freezing and bursting. Disconnect garden hoses as well. During extremely cold weather, open cabinet doors to allow warm air to surround the pipes, and turn the faucet on enough to let water drip to prevent freezing.
Block the Cold
Prevent drafts and cold air from seeping into the house by installing weather stripping and seals around windows, doors, electrical outlets, air conditioners and mail chutes. Replace screens with storm doors and windows if you have them. Make sure your home has adequate insulation.
Winterize Recreational Vehicles
Consult your vehicle owner’s manual or hire a professional to winterize any vehicle you plan to store for several months. Make sure it is clean and dry to protect the finish and prevent mildew before you cover it. Fill the gas tank and oil reservoir to prevent condensation, if recommended, and add anti-freeze as needed to protect vehicle engines. Consider using a battery tender to keep the vehicle’s battery charged until you are ready to use it again.
Preparing your home and recreational vehicles now will help you reduce your risk of property damage during the coming winter months. For suggestions on how to prepare yourself and your loved ones for severe winter weather, visit the Ready.gov website.
As always, you are invited to contact Hylant if you have questions about homeowners insurance or auto insurance. We are here to help you protect what matters most.
The above information does not constitute advice. Always contact your insurance broker or trusted adviser for insurance-related questions.