Getting Ready For Winter Storms
Before we wrap ourselves up in the holiday craze and cheer of shopping, entertaining, spending time with family & friends, special events, etc.… let’s take a few moments to go through your winter weather checklist to make sure you have yourself covered when the really cold weather sets in, and for the snow that is surely just around the corner.
Here are just a few things to consider …
Let’s first start off by checking the condition of your snow shovels, gloves, and window scrapers, and replace as needed. If you own your own snowplow, have it serviced, so you know you are ready to go once the inevitable snow falls, and of course make sure you have any oils/additives and gas stored in a safe place ensuring your readiness should the need arise. Store some of your winter weather supplies such as shovels, near the door where you can access them easily in a storm. Mark the sides of your driveway and other key places with reflective poles, to help the snowplow service provider see where the driveway begins and ends – and mark any other key areas that you deem important. Keeping your pantry stocked with food, bottled water, candles, batteries, and flashlights in case of power outages is always a good idea.
Insulate Your Pipes
Your water pipes are not strong enough to withstand the transition from liquid water to ice. Water expands when it freezes with tremendous force that can overpower your pipes. To prevent this from happening, insulate the pipes in vulnerable areas like unfinished basements or pipes closest to the exterior walls. This foam insulation is extremely inexpensive and could save you thousands of dollars should any of your pipes freeze.
It is also important to drain your outdoor water spickets now, if you haven’t done so already (turn them on for a minute to drain any left-over water left in the pipes.). Once drained, shut it off and close the main shut-off lever for the winter so it will be ready and intact for the spring season.
Change Furnace Filters
This could save you a fortune on your furnace and utility bill, and it will also improve the efficiency of your heating system. Changing the filter is easy, cost-effective, and only needs to be done once or twice a year.
Sweep and Inspect the Chimney
When too much ash, embers, leaves, and other materials clog your fireplace, it poses a risk of chimney fires. It could also prevent smoke from exiting the chimney, meaning that it will only enter your home. You should have your chimney swept once a year to prevent this from happening.
Check Your Roof & Clean Gutters
Hiring someone to check your roof and clean your gutters is a good proactive practice that could lead to a big expense if left undone. If you are able and handy, this certainly is a good do-it-yourself project.
Rotate Ceiling Fans
TIP! Heat naturally rises toward the ceiling … so during the winter, if your ceiling fans rotate backward – flip that switch … it will gently push cool air upwards, forcing the heated air back down to the floor. This is an especially helpful tip if you have high ceilings.
Check Your Heating System
Maintenance is key to longevity for any system! Make sure that your heating system is running at optimal levels. If you don’t have a heating system service contract with your service provider, you may want to think about doing that. Have your system serviced and cleaned annually – ideally before the winter temperatures set in. The last thing you want, is to have your heating system give you a problem/stops working right in the middle of freezing temps.
Seal Air Leaks
Seal cracks around doors and windows and add weather stripping where needed. Having a professional do this will yield you the best results. Otherwise, if you are handy … not such a difficult task. With energy costs going up, up up … this task will help lower your energy bills and will also keep your house warmer in the event of a power outage.
Check/Change Your Detectors Annually
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are important all year round, especially during the cold winter months. Rule of thumb … replace your smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries at least once a year, some suggest every 6 months, try to be consistent in your practice. Not fun to be woken up in the middle of the night to the sound of a chirping detector, letting you know it needs a new battery.
Drain The Fuel From Your Small Gas-Powered Engines
Again, maintenance is key … Gasoline doesn’t last forever, it decomposes quickly, which causes the engine to “gunk-up” – and may cause the engine to fail/inability for it to start again come spring when you need it. Look at your small equipment’s owner’s manual for best practices to keep your equipment in good working order so it will last for many years to come.
Check Exterior Landscape
Take a walk around the exterior of your property and look for any broken branches or dying trees that are in close proximity to your home, car, fence, or other valuable property. Intense winds could take out a dying tree with ease, so if you see something, either cut it yourself (if it’s an easy fix) or call in the professionals.
HOW TO PREP FOR POWER OUTAGES
- Have warm clothes and blankets on hand.
- Stock Up On Supplies – Having a wide variety of non-perishable food items, drinking water, and first aid supplies on hand can make the uncomfortable “power outage” scenario a little safer and more tolerable.
- Update your emergency kit. – Be prepared for power outages and other emergencies by making sure your house and car are outfitted with well-stocked emergency kits. The basics include bottled water, a flashlight with extra batteries, a cell phone charger (battery-powered is best), car charges, food, blankets and a first-aid kit. At home, keep essential documents in one easily accessible place.
Note: If you are anticipating a storm and a possible power outage – ensure all devices, and phones have a full charge before the storm hits.
Use Your Fireplace, Wood or Pellet Stove
Of course, if you have a fireplace or wood stove, you are golden. That’s assuming you have your firewood in an easily accessible location. If you’re like me, I have a pellet stove which works great when you have electricity … but having your pellet stove hooked-up to a generator, and bags of pellets on hand which I do – will keep your home warm and toasty in the event of a power outage. It’s all about thinking ahead and being prepared.
Lastly, if possible, get a generator … it may just be one of the best investment you’ve made. Word of advice … Don’t wait until the last minute/until the storm is about to hit to decide to purchase one, when everyone is out there looking to purchase one. It’s like an insurance policy – you may need it; you may not need it. But having the peace of mind of having one is priceless!
Note: Just like a car, a generator will not work without the gas needed to fuel it. If you have a generator or are thinking of getting one – make sure you are prepared with all that is needed to run it, storing all including the gas in a safe place.
I’m not sure what the winter months have in store for us … but being prepared can only make it easier. If you or someone you know needs any service providers to help you “get-ready” – feel free to reach out to me. I have a list of Service Providers, that come highly recommended.
Stay warm, stay safe!
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