As we all know, living in Missouri means that the weather is often unpredictable. As cold weather approaches (faster than we hoped) there are several things you can do around the house to keep you safe and warm all winter. These 7 steps can ensure your house will be in top shape for whatever winter throws at it.
1. Protect Your Pipes
Drain water from outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems to keep those pipes from freezing. Disconnect and store outdoor hoses and cover outdoor faucets with foam insulators. Protect water pipes that run through unheated areas of your home with insulation, such as the garage, basement, and attic. Winterizing your pipes will help you avoid a potentially catastrophic claim.
Pro Tip: Know where the water shutoff valve is located in your home so that you can turn off the water in an emergency. Typically it’s located in the basement or buried near the road.
2. Check the Heat
To ensure you’ll be staying warm all winter, check your furnace before the weather gets too cold. Check your furnace by turning on the heat and the blower to be sure they are working properly. Change your furnace filter at the start of the season and then every 2-4 months. Filters get dirty much quicker if your home is dusty or if you have have furry or feathery pets.
Pro Tip: Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans. Set the blades to turn clockwise so that they circulate the warm air from the ceiling down into the room.
3. Seal Windows and Doors
Gaps around the doors and windows can make it tough to keep your house warm in the winter as cold air seeps through. Caulk around windows and replace weather stripping on doors as needed. This minor and inexpensive task can help save on heating costs. If your windows and doors are older, consider upgrading to double- or even triple-pane windows and insulated doors to boost the energy efficiency of your home.
4. Shut Vents in Crawl Space
If your home has a crawl space, close the vents to reduce the chance of pipes freezing and heat loss. The simplest way to close foundation vents for the winter is to plug them from the outside with foam blocks made specifically for this purpose. Just remember to remove the plugs when spring comes to prevent moisture build up. Check to make sure that vent screens are intact so that insects and other critters don’t make their way into your house.
5. Unclog Gutters to Prevent Ice Dams
Clogged gutters and downspouts are the No. 1 cause of ice dams. Clean them out to keep water flowing during the winter. The problem with an ice dam is that snow that later melts can’t properly drain. Since this water has to go somewhere, it might escape through a hole in your roof, causing water damage in your home.
6. Inspect the Fireplace and Chimney
There’s nothing like the glow of a warm fire during a cold winter evening. Before you light up that first log, make sure your fireplace and chimney are clean and critter-free. If it’s been years since your chimney has had a good cleaning, it might be time to hire a professional chimney sweep to clean out soot and other debris that could catch fire. Keep your home’s warm air from escaping out the chimney when you’re not using it by keeping the flue closed all the way.
Pro Tip: You can install glass fireplace doors or a chimney inflatable that blocks cold air from coming down the chimney.
7. Stock Up on Cold Weather Essentials
When winter storms hit, they can cause panic. Stock up on winter essentials early before they sell out at your local stores. Consider having these cold-weather items on hand:
- Ice melt, sand, and a shovel
- An alternative heat source such a generator, wood-burning stove, or fireplace
- A working, fully charged fire extinguisher
- Warm blankets
- Plenty of bottled water and shelf stable food
- First Aid kit
- NOAA Weather Radio & NWR receiver
- Hand tools
Don’t forget to get your car ready too by packing an ice scraper and brush, water, blankets, and other essentials. We hope these tips keep you and your home safe and warm this winter!
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