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Home Maintenance

10 tips to get your house ready for winter

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1. Protect indoor pipes
According to Home Advisor, a burst pipe can cost $500 to repair and can cause as much as $3,000 in additional damage. Pipe insulation that you can install yourself around any exposed copper or PVC water pipe costs as little as 50 cents per pipe. linear foot. Use it under sinks, in attics and crawl spaces and on pipes along exterior walls. Pay particular attention to basements, where 37 percent of all burst pipes occur.

2. Insulate your attic or crawl space
Spending money to insulate your attic—exactly how much insulation you need varies according to temperatures in your region—will save you money in the long run in two ways. You keep your home’s heat away from the attic and in homes where it belongs, and by keeping the attic cooler you can prevent harmful ice dams from forming on your roof. Energy Star offers this guide to insulation with recommendations for different regions of the country.

3. Service your oven and chimney
Fireplaces, chimneys and heating equipment are some of the biggest causes of fire in the home, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Have them serviced and inspected annually. Make sure the inspector examines the condition of the chimney—bricks need regular maintenance to prevent water from seeping in—as well as the hood, which keeps out heat-seeking animals.

4. Switch to Storm Windows
Remove and save all window screens. Install glass storm windows so that you create an insulating layer of air between your windows and the cold outside air. These also provide an extra layer of protection against driving rain and snow during a heavy storm, even if you have newer, double-paned windows.

5. Repair of loose roof shingles
If you suspect your roof has loose, damaged or missing shingles, have a licensed roofing company inspect and make repairs before the first snow. A single cubic foot of snow weighs about 20 pounds. That pressure can cause loose shingles to move further, allowing water or moisture to penetrate your roof and leak into your home.

6. Clean and inspect gutters
Clogged gutters can cause water to back up and then freeze when the temperature drops. Keep gutters clean and properly connected to ensure melting snow runs off your roof and through downspouts.

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7. Repair of terraces and pavers
A loose patio stone or paving stone will only get worse over the winter as the soil’s natural freeze and thaw cycle lifts it further out of place in a process called frost heave. Have loose stones reset by a mason or handyman in the autumn.

8. Look for ailing tree limbs
A dead branch covered in snow can easily snap, endangering people and potentially causing thousands of dollars worth of damage if it hits a roof, porch or siding. Before the first snow, have a reputable tree service, landscape contractor or arborist remove any dead or diseased limbs.

9. Secure outdoor water sources
Drain and store any garden hoses or sprinklers before the first frost to eliminate the risk of them freezing and bursting. For hose bibs, shut off the water supply valve inside your house or basement that feeds the line, then open the outdoor spigot (any water trapped inside will drain out). If you simply close the spigot itself, trapped water can freeze and cause a burst pipe inside.

10. Mark garden beds, paths and driveways
After a heavy snowfall, it can be difficult to see where driveways, flower beds or walkways end and your lawn begins. Use fiberglass snow poles or driveway markers spaced several feet apart to line the edges of these areas. It helps provide a clear path, whether you’re blowing or shoveling snow yourself or hiring a professional plow driver.