It’s that time of the year again, the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder. No matter when you may live, the signs of an upcoming winter always set off alarms for homeowners as the rise in heating costs become the main concern.
This coming season, the U.S. Energy Information Administration is predicting percentage increases in the double-digits that will hit some homeowners’ wallets hard, costing hundreds of dollars more in heating bills.
Other major concerns are frozen/burst pipes, furnace and heat failure, leaky window and doorframes, roofs collapsing from ice and snow, and the most dreaded, losing power. This is where DIY homeowners must step up their game by tightening up their homes and preparing for the worse.
Seal Off Cold Weather Invaders
Start by checking all windows, doorframes, chimneys, and anywhere else where cold air might enter and heat can escape. Use a thermal leak detector for an efficient way to monitor your home. Several of the newer models have color radar-infrared cameras and screens, so you can visibly see the extent of the leak.
Once you’ve located the culprits, get out the caulking gun or foam insulation and seal them up. Be sure to remove and store all window screens and replace them with glass storm windows, thus creating an insulating layer of air between your windows and the cold outside air.
Storm windows also provide an added layer of protection against driving rain and snow during a heavy storm, even if you have newer, double-paned windows.
Frozen Pipes Can Wreak Havoc
Losing power in the middle of winter is a major concern and one of the most catastrophic events that can occur as a result of frozen pipes. USDAA Insurance spokesman Rich Johnston recommends wrapping your pipes and keeping your home at 65 degrees or higher. Also, it’s crucial to know where your home’s water shutoff is located, so you can quickly shut off your water in an emergency.
A burst pipe can cause $5,000 or more in damage, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), so make sure you insulate all exposed pipes in the attic, crawl spaces, and along exterior walls.
Prepare Your Battle Plan & Get To Work
Before the winter season approaches, aim to have your furnace serviced and any chimneys cleaned and inspected. Check that all carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are working and replace all required batteries. Losing electric power in the freezing cold is never fun and can become extremely dangerous.
Having a back-up generator in case of power failures during blizzards is a must-have in harsh climates. Not only will they prevent pipes from freezing and bursting, but they will provide you and your family with the peace of mind of staying warm all season long.
Secure The Perimeter from Potential Disasters
One of the sure-fire defenses against the Winter Warlock is to inspect, clean, and repair the outside of the home. Clear out your gutters and inspect the roof for loose shingles and icicles. While they may look appealing, a single cubic foot of ice can weigh 20 to 25 pounds and wreak havoc to your roof.
That pressure can cause loose shingles to shift, allowing water or moisture to permeate your roof and infiltrate your home or in the worst-case scenario, cause a collapse. Another pending disaster could be from trees and branches that are positioned close to the house.
Trim away any dead wood or branches hanging over your structure that could snap from the weight of ice and snow and cause severe structural damage to the home. Don’t forget to shut off and drain out all your exterior faucets and lawn irrigation system.
The winter months do not have to be a source of stress and concern for homeowners if you are properly prepared. You can do the bulk of the work at a minimal cost, and the results could end up saving you lots of money and grief.