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How to protect your house this winter

Posted On Fri, November 15, 2013

As the days get shorter and colder, there is plenty of preparation to be done to make sure your family is ready for the winter. While swapping sweaters for shorts and pulling out the holiday decorations, take a look around your house and make sure it's ready for the colder months, too. Here are a few tasks that should be completed before the first snowfall:

Clean your gutters 
Leaves that are shed from trees have the nasty habit of ending up in your gutters. It's not a glamorous job, but it's essential for the good of your home to clean out your gutters. Clogged gutters invite all kinds of issues that can plague a house, most of which stem from the standing water that they cause. It can do a great deal of damage to the walls of the home and can cause mold or mildew. Plus, creepy crawlers love stagnant water - mosquitoes, in particular, will lay their eggs and make your yard an unpleasant place to be once the weather warms up. Make sure that all spouts are directed at least three feet from your foundation.

Clear the roof
While you have your ladder out, make sure the roof is cleared of any excess debris like branches or leaves. Snow is extremely heavy and if you live in an area that can expect plenty of it, your roof will take the strain. Though roof damage is covered in most home insurance quotes, it's still a massive headache to get repaired. Check that your roof doesn't have any peeling tiles that can be indicators of issues to come. For both your roof and your gutters, take the proper safety precautions or call a professional.

Check the fireplace
Few things are more romantic than a crackling fire in the middle of winter. However, if your fireplace begins spewing black smoke into your living room, the spell will likely be broken. Aside from ruining a perfectly nice evening in, the smoke is extremely dangerous and can do lasting damage to your home. Before you light the first fire of the season, make sure your flue is open and your chimney is clean. If it hasn't been used in a while, animals may have built nests in the flue and chimneys themselves can have structural issues. It's a good idea to have your chimney checked out about once a year by a professional. 

Check the furnace
Your furnace is going to work hard all winter long to keep your family warm, and it needs some TLC to keep it running well. At the very least, make sure the filter is replaced annually, though it's also a good idea to bring in a professional to check it once a year. That way, your furnace will vacuum the unit, lubricate the parts and check the thermostat for you. Make sure get it checked before the weather starts to get too cold - the time to discover that your furnace isn't working is not on the first 10-degree night of the season.

Prepare your plumbing
Frozen pipes in the winter are not only inconvenient, but they have the ability to do lasting damage to your house. One of the first warning signs that your pipes are freezing over is lackluster water pressure. If you notice a difference in the water pressure in your shower or sinks, call a professional right away. Also, make sure all garden hoses are disconnected once the temperature starts to get closer to 32 degrees - a hose left connected will cause ice to form in the faucet and build up in the water line inside your home, which will cause serious damage.

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