It is important to prepare your home for winter season in Southeastern Massachusetts. The best time to start is in the early fall, however year-round maintenance and care will contribute greatly to the efficiency of your home in the colder months. This article will focus on the 8 areas of your home that, when properly maintained and prepped, will help you stay safe, cozy and warm all winter long.
#1 – Start With the Furnace
The first thing you should do is to call out an HVAC company to do an inspection on all of your ducts and furnace equipment. Getting in on an annual inspection program can help save money and will keep your system in tip top shape. Stocking up on filters for your furnace is another great way to save. Buying them in bulk at the local home improvement store will not only save you money initially, but changing your filters monthly will help your furnace work more effectively. Clean around your furnace, removing any cobwebs, debris or stored items to eliminate any potential fire hazard.
#2 – Exterior Inspection
Check the outside of your home – all the doors and windows – to make sure there aren’t any cracks or exposed areas. If you find any, make sure to seal them and caulk windows to eliminate any gaps. Weatherstripping will help reduce the amount of cold air flow under and around doors. Replace any windows or doors that have cracks in them that cannot be repaired. Make sure to prime and paint any exposed wood to protect from winter wear and tear. Remember to take your summer screens out and replace them with glass – thick storm windows, if you have them – for better protection and built-in insulation from the cold.
#3 – Prepare the Fireplace
What’s better than a cozy fire on a cold New England winter night? Make sure to get your chimney swept before the cold season hits to remove any soot from last year. Chop wood or buy firewood and make sure to store it away from the exterior of your home in a dry area. Also, take time to check out the mortar between bricks in your fireplace and make repairs as-necessary. Make sure that your damper opens and closes properly and that everything is functioning as it should.
#4 – Don’t Forget the Roof
Ensuring that your roof is prepared for a typical Southeastern Massachusetts winter is the best thing you can do for your home. Do a thorough inspection of your roof, including all gutters and downspouts, to ensure that everything is in good repair. Replace any tiles or shingles that are worn or cracked. Use a hose to clean out your gutters and make sure to spray water down through the downspouts to direct the water away from your home, while checking to see that they are in working order. Leaf guards will help to keep your gutters from filling up with fall leaves.
#5 – Prepare the Foundation
When you prepare your home for winter, don’t neglect the foundation because it is really an important part of cold weather preparation. Check for any debris or dry vegetation around your home and rake it away. Check the sill plates to ensure that you don’t have any dry rot or an infestation of insects or other pests. Check all crawlspace entrances to ensure that they are secured.
#6 – Protect Your Plumbing
One of the worst things that can happen to a home in winter is to get frozen pipes. Make sure you know where your water main is located in case you need to quickly shut it off. Check all garden hoses to ensure that they are fully drained before cold weather hits. If you have any pipes that are exposed, insulate them well. If your A/C has a water shut-off valve be sure to turn it off and ensure that all pipes are fully drained.
#7 – Landscape Your Landscaping
Before cold weather hits, make sure to trim any tree branches that hang too close to electrical wires or your home. If you have any potted plants that are sensitive to the cold, consider moving them indoors or to a garage or shed for extra shelter. Remove any dead vegetation from your yard or garden for a fresh start when the weather begins to warm. If you plan on planting bulbs for the spring, make sure to do so before the ground gets too cold.
#8 – Prepare for Disaster
Purchase and install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in every room of your home. If you already have them installed, replace the batteries in October and replace them again in April to ensure they are in working order. Purchase a fire extinguisher and replace it every 10 years. Prepare an evacuation plan for your family and purchase bottled water and non-perishable foods that you can use in the event of a power outage. If you have pets, make sure to think of them too. Buy candles, matches and consider getting a battery-powered lantern for use during an outage as well.
Speak with your Southeastern Insurance agent for even more home safety tips and preventative measures that you can use to prepare your home for a cold New England winter. With over 30 years of experience servicing customers throughout the New England states, Southeastern Insurance can provide you with a homeowners policy that will cover your home year round.