Keep Your Home in Top Shape This Winter
Maribeth Lynch, Thrive Real Estate Specialists
Those of us who have lived through the past several New England winters know firsthand how destructive winter weather can be in our part of the country, and our homes are not immune to the ravages of this harsh season. While we haven’t even begun to experience the plunging temperatures and staggering snowfall this year that we’ve seen in the recent past, it’s a good bet that January and February will bring on the cold and snow. Here are a few home maintenance tips that can help keep your home safe, warm, and protected when winter weather comes storming into town:
Winter is a season that can see an increased risk of house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. The house is buttoned up against the elements and susceptible to a buildup of carbon monoxide, so it’s important to make sure that carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly and there are extra batteries on hand as a backup. If your carbon monoxide alarm sounds, call the fire department to have your home checked for the odorless gas. Trust me, they’ll be at your doorstep right away to check for this hidden danger. Improperly monitored space heaters and fireplaces can pose an increased risk of fire. It’s a good idea to have regular chimney inspections and cleanings to eliminate the danger of a chimney fire. Make sure that space heaters are located a safe distance from flammable draperies and upholstery and never leave a space heater unattended. And most importantly, keep your smoke detectors working properly!
A more common winter peril is ice buildup on driveways and walkways that can lead to mishaps and falls. Invest in a snow blower or prepare for a bracing workout with a shovel when the snow starts to pile up. Pay particular to outdoor steps and stairways that see regular use. Ice melt is available at any local home improvement store.
Having your furnace regularly inspected and serviced if necessary is an important step toward making sure you won’t be left in the cold during the winter months. Contact a qualified professional annually to make sure your furnace is functioning at peak efficiency and swap out filters regularly to keep your heating system running smoothly. If your home is heated by oil, as many New England homes are, make sure that you keep an eye on fuel levels and have your tank filled before you run out of oil.
Storm doors and windows can help combat the cold as well. Swap out screen doors for storm doors to add a layer of protection against the elements.
Exceedingly cold weather can lead to frozen and burst pipes. If you travel away from home during the winter months, make sure that you don’t turn off the heat in your home completely, or you could come home to broken pipes and water damage. If your pipes are prone to freezing, leaving faucets running at a slow drip can keep water moving through them even when they are not in active use. Wrapping pipes in electrical tape can also provide additional insulation from the cold. If you suspect a frozen or leaking pipe, call a plumber to help mitigate the damage. You should also learn how to shut off the water to your house in case a leak becomes serious quickly.
Keeping your gutters clean can help prevent buildup that leads to ice dams. A roof rake is also a handy tool for lessening the weight of snow on your roof; heavy snowfall can lead to roof damage and in serious cases, even a partial collapse, so keeping your roof clear of snow is a good idea.
When winter comes roaring in, storms can cause lasting power outages. In Shrewsbury, we’re fortunate to have a local electricity provider that tends to get the power back up and running fairly quickly, but a severe storm can cause power outages that last for days. Make sure that you have plenty of blankets, non-perishable food, flashlights, batteries, and water on hand in case you are stranded at home without power. If you have a portable generator, make sure it is in working condition and that you have plenty of gas to fuel it. Generators should only be operated in areas with proper ventilation.
A lot of this winter maintenance is probably second nature to many of us who have lived in Central Massachusetts for a long time, but it never hurts to be prepared. Make yourself a winter “to do” checklist that will keep you and your family comfortable in your home this winter. Stay warm!
Would you like to know more? Visit http://www.thriverealtors.com/ for more information!