Even though it's fall, temperatures in some areas (like mine, the mountains) can drop to freezing or below freezing anyday at anytime. Our mountain weather really can be unpredictable. Well, let's face it, Mother Nature can be unpredictable. Just in the past week, we've had temps down to 29 degrees! YES, I said 29! As a matter of fact, I've already had several calls from clients friends asking me to go turn off their water. And, I gladly did.
I've decided to post a few ideas on things my family does to avoid--or try to avoid--winter-time disasters. Hopefully, my tips will help you get your home "winter ready" and prevent being CAUGHT OFF GUARD when you least expect it.
PIPES--PREVENT FROZEN PIPES
- Make sure your entire family knows where the MAIN SHUT OFF valve is in case of an emergency.
- Buy, and install, insulation for ANY exposed pipes.
- Prepare your A/C (Some need draining) and cover/wrap it.
- When you're going to be away from home for several days or longer, set your heater at 55 degrees.
- IF you're leaving for several days, drain your hoses, pipes and shut off the water.
- Have a professional chimney sweep clean and inspect your fireplace. Make repairs as suggested by the professional chimney sweep.
- If you have firewood outdoors, store it in a dry place and make sure it ISN'T touching the exterior of your house.
- Have a professional inspect your heater and, if necessary, clean your ducts.
- Change your heater's filter often, usually monthly in heavily used months.
- Think about buying an updated thermostat.
- Make sure household products or anything else that may be combustible, is away from your furnace/heater.
- Many Gas companys will come out and check your pilots on appliances, heater and water heaters for free.
CHECK SMOKE ALARMS AND CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS
- Check your local county requirements on smoke detectors, as to where they must be placed in your home.
- Keep extra smoke detector batteries on hand.
- TEST smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors routinely (I use the spring forward, fall back calendar method) and replace batteries.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and water heater.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in a safe and accessible area of the home.
- Teach all family members how to use the extinguisher
WEATHER PROOFING WINDOWS AND DOORS
- Apply weatherstripping around doors to keep out cold air
- Caulk windows that need it (you'll know which ones, as you'll hear the wind whistling through the cracks).
- Replace cracked glass in windows.
- If you have storm windows, it's time to get them installed.
ROOFS AND GUTTERS
- Check flashing around your fireplace. (One of MY worst winter disasters was due to bad flashing).
- Replace old, worn out roof shingles or tiles.
- Clean out gutters and make sure your downspouts are clean of debris.
- Many stores carry leaf guards for gutters--consider these.
GET YOUR OUTDOOR AREA PREPARED
- Trim tree branches away from house or electrical wires.
- OR, call the electric company if branches are already IN the wires
- Time to prune trees
THINGS TO HAVE ON HAND...in case of black outs or other winter emergencies:
- Extra candles, matches and lighters
- Tape phone numbers of utility companies near the phone
- Battery back-up to protect your computer and other sensitive electronic equipment.
- Extra bottled water, can foods and other non-perishable goodies
- Blankets and a first aid kit
- Pet food and supplies: WE CAN'T FORGET OUR PETS!!!
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