After several years of brutal winter weather, we were given a reprieve of mild weather last year. The warm weather trend has moved into the fall with some balmy days. But you shouldn’t become complacent thinking that winter weather is a long way off. Yes, it’s the time of year to take stock in your home and prepare for winter. Is your home winter ready?
Of course, at the center of your winter ready home is the comfort your heating system delivers. Regardless of the type of heating system you have, have a licensed a licensed professional inspect your home’s furnace. The inspection can identify any issues that can cause your furnace to be inefficient and/or fail. The inspection can also root out potential safety issues, such as carbon monoxide buildup. If the system does not need to be repaired or replaced, the HVAC professional will tune the furnace to optimize the its performance.
Another thought for being winter ready is the fireplace. Unfortunately, many homeowners overlook fireplace and chimney maintenance. However, putting off fireplace and chimney maintenance can become a safety issue. Wood burning fireplaces should be cleaned, inspected, and repaired if necessary. Gas fireplaces require a licensed technician to inspect the pilot and electronics in the firebox. Both wood and gas fireplaces require flue and chimney maintenance. Creosote buildup can combust and cause a chimney fire. Birds and other animals or debris can lodge in the chimney and prevent proper venting. Defective fireplaces or improperly vented fireplaces can produce excess carbon monoxide in your home, which can be deadly.
You’re not winter ready unless you’re prepared for emergencies. Test the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, replace them if necessary. If your heating system and/or fireplace burns liquid, solid, or gas fuel, then you need to have carbon monoxide detectors installed. Carbon monoxide is invisible, odorless and tasteless and prolonged exposure can result in brain damage and death. Experts recommend installing carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home, primarily near bedrooms.
Hose bibs are often ignored because many people don’t use them, or are not aware of how to maintain them. However, hose bibs that are not winter ready are probably the number one source of winter pipe leaks. If not winterized properly, the pipes leading to the hose bibs can freeze and expand. This expansion can cause the pipe to burst, creating an unwanted winter leak. If you’ve never winterized the hose bibs, or are not sure how, contact a licensed plumber. Attempting to operate pipe valves that have been idle or not operated in a while can create or exacerbate an undetected leak.
Make sure your home’s roof system is winter ready. Have a licensed professional inspect your home’s roof. If shingles are not secure, melting and freezing snow can create ice dams. Ice dams can lift and dislodge shingles allowing water to penetrate your home. Water penetration from ice dams can cause damage to your home’s interior. Besides damaging ceilings, water penetration can also damage walls and windows.
While your roof is being checked out, inspect the roof flashing, gutters and downspouts. Roof flashing is often ignored, however is as important as shingles. Roof flashing is used to transition from shingles (or other roofing) to other materials (such as brick, metal or PVC). The flashing prevents water to leak between the roof and chimney or vent pipes.
Clean and repair clogged gutters and blocked downspouts. Poorly maintained gutters and downspouts won’t allow for proper drainage of water from snow and rain. Improper drainage can allow water to penetrate the foundation, creating structural and mold issues.
Preparing for winter will reduce the probability of having surprises. Being winter ready will allow you to enjoy the winter months in your own winter wonderland.
Copyright© Dan Krell
Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.