Here's How to Get Your Home Ready for Old Man Winter

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Although we’ve had a warm and toasty Fall, cold weather is on its way, like it or not, and it’s time to get your home ready for Old Man Winter's annual visit. So grab a mug of hot chocolate and check out these cool tips for keeping your house warm and cheery in the months ahead.

Preparing Your Pipes for the Big Freeze

According to the New York Times, the  average cost of repairing damage caused by burst pipes is as high as $18,000. That makes for a happy holiday season where plumbers are concerned. The rest of us have a different perspective on the issue. Here's what you should do to avoid a budget-killing visit from your local plumbing contractor:

  • Insulate water pipes in unheated parts of your home. This is especially crucial for pipes near walls, windows, and doorways.

  • Set your thermostat at a minimum 55 degrees Fahrenheit when you're away. This can save you from a nasty surprise upon returning home.

  • Let your faucets drip on evenings when temperatures are below freezing.

  • Cut off the water flow to outside faucets.

Keeping Your Roof in Top Shape

Even the best roofs can take a beating during winter. Here's how to prevent damage to this all-important part of your home:

  • Give your roof a thorough visual inspection, if possible by climbing a ladder and getting up close and personal with your shingles. If this is beyond your capabilities, then hire a roofing professional to do it for you. This is important for preventing leaks and water damage to your home during the winter.

  • Check your attic insulation and add to it if needed. Failing to do so can cause heat to rise through the ceiling and melt snow and ice on your roof. When the water re-freezes, it could create ice dams that force water to seep under your roofing shingles and leak into your attic.

  • Use a roof rake to remove excess snow during heavy winter storms.

Staying Warm on the Inside

You spend a lot of money keeping your home's interior warm and comfy during the cold season. Make every penny of that investment count by taking these precautions before winter arrives:

  • Inspect your heating system, replace filters as necessary, and note any warning signs like strange noises or failure to operate. Call a technician to correct any problems that are beyond your skill level.

  • Switch to winter curtains or blinds. The heavier material is like an extra layer of insulation in front of your windows, according to the Huffington Post.

  • Add weatherstripping along your windows, window sills, and doorways. Seal any gaps around the foundation with a good all-weather caulking compound. Note any cracks or other warning signs along the perimeter of your home and contact a professional if needed.

Preparing for the Worst

Sometimes you can take every possible precaution through home maintenance and still end up with an emergency on your hands. That's why it's good to keep emergency supplies on hand inside your home during winter. These should include:

  • Blankets, sleeping bags, and heavy clothing.

  • Make sure smoke detectors are in working order and have fresh batteries.

  • An emergency radio with extra batteries.

  • Foodstuffs that require no cooking. Energy bars and similar items can arm your body with plenty of heat-producing calories.

  • A roll of duct tape and plastic sheeting. These materials could save your life if a tree limb comes crashing through your roof. You can use them to seal off the damaged part of your home, minimizing heat loss.

What if your pipes burst?

Sometimes the best laid plans go in the wrong direction. If your pipes burst or your roof gets hail damage, you’ll need to call your insurance company and make preparations for repairing the damage caused. Here are a list of professionals to find in this event.

  • Plumber - First, get the source of the problem fixed if your pipes have burst. Sometimes your pipes may freeze and need to be warmed up which is a simple fix, but if they’ve burst, you’ll know it by the water.

  • Roofer - Like above, fixing the source first is a priority. If you’ve got hail damage, get a roofer out fast to cover up the holes.

  • HVAC - Having a heating and air expert out to inspect your heating system for malfunctions or problems caused after the face is a good idea in making sure you’re not going to cause more damage to things just fixed. We’ve got to keep you cozy.

  • Restorative Cleaners - If you’ve got a lot of water in your home as a cause of the leaks you may need a heavy duty cleaning company to come in and clean up the floors and walls, extract water and mildew and get your house ready to be put back together. These types of cleaners aren’t your typical house cleaners. They bring in the big air movers and water extractors and do serious demo work to get all of the water, damaged items and smells out of the house.

  • Drywaller - When there is a leak, there is going to be damaged drywall. Water damage can cause black mold and other unsafe mildews which necessitates removal and replacing of drywall. In addition, the plumbers and HVAC guys will undoubtedly cut back drywall to get access to the pipes. Knowing a good drywaller can get your walls back up and your ceilings retextured so that you’ll never know the difference.

  • Painters - Finally, after everything is fixed and put back together, call your favorite Color Theory Painter out to paint. Many times, the painter can either handle the drywall repair themselves or coordinate it for you so you have one less person to call. Professional painters know how to seal stains from water damage and prepare for painting after burst pipes or roof leaks.

Winter always brings its share of surprises for homeowners. Taking the time to prepare for the challenges can help you and your loved ones to make it through the cold months to come with a warm smile on your face.