Winter Is Coming: Is Your Home Ready?

Winter weather can cause significant damage to your home if you’re prepared. If you want to avoid costly repairs, make sure that your home is ready for the season. Here’s a checklist of things to get done before the cold sets in:

1. Check Your Gutters and Drainage

With winter comes increased rainfall, frozen or otherwise, so you want to be ready. While cleaning out the gutters isn’t a fun job, it can save you money in the long run.

Well-maintained gutters can reduce the need for replacements and chances of roof damage. A clogged gutter can overflow and break, putting a strain on the roof itself. It can also fill with ice, which will cause thawing damage and strain the guttering.

To avoid these complications, scoop out any dirt or debris with a small shovel. Then flush out the gutters with a hose for a full clean. After flushing, check for any other signs of drainage issues. If you find water damage stains in your basement or mildew in your attic, that indicates that your drainage system isn’t moving the water far away enough from your house. You may want to call in professional help if this is the case.

2. Test Your Sump Pump

Sump pumps act as the last line of defense against condensation buildup, floods and drain leakage. You’ll want to test the pump before winter hits to make sure it works; otherwise, you could end up with a flooded basement and foundation damage.

Once you locate the exit pipe, check it for any dirt and debris. If there are any clogs, remove them. Make sure that the water is being directed well away from your home’s foundation.

If you have a dual cord pump, both cords should be unplugged. If you can hear a humming sound when you plug in the pump cord, this means that it’s working as it should. Don’t forget to plug everything back in after testing.

If you have a single cord pump, pour 20 liters of water into the pump pit until the float rises. You should hear the pump turn on. While on, make sure the water is pumping out as it should, and the pump turns itself off when the water is removed.

It might be worth investing in a water detector to further protect your basement from moisture.

3. Check Your Window Wells

Window wells are a great way to let natural light into your basement and provide ventilation. They also help keep soil away from the window fixtures. But if they are not maintained well, they can put your basement at risk.

One of the major reasons for window well flooding is liner failure. If your liner becomes detached from the foundation wall, soil pressure can widen the gap between the loose liner and the wall. This allows water to penetrate when the soil becomes over-saturated.

Before winter sets in, check your window wells. Inspect the liner and replace any that have become loose.

4. Clean Your Dryer Vents

As the colder months set in, your dryer is likely to get more use. Dryers can be a fire hazard, causing more than 15,000 fires each year, so it is crucial to reduce this risk. Make sure to remove the built-up lint from the dryer to avoid fire hazards and improve your household’s energy efficiency.

Start by cleaning the lint filter. You can often find this component toward the front of the dryer. Slide the filter out and scrape off any lint. You can use a vacuum to take out any lint caught in the lint trap, too. Replace the filter after cleaning it.

Next, clean the lint vents. You can find these at the back of most dryers. If you have any trouble locating them, check the manufacturer’s instructions. Next, hold the vent upright and use a dryer vent duct brush to brush down the piping.

Then reconnect the vent and turn your dryer on for about 15 minutes. This forces air through the vents and will blow out any lint that may have been in the tubing or stuck in the outer flue.

5. Weatherproof Exterior Pipes

Freezing temperatures can cause severe problems for your external pipes. Frozen pipes can crack, and once they thaw they can release hundreds of gallons of water in a single day. This can lead to severe structural damage.

Check all of your pipes for signs of weakness. Moisture on faucets and connectors can point to wear and tear. If there is moisture, replace these parts immediately.

Turn off your external pipes at the water main and make sure they’re fully drained. It might be useful to double-check a few days later to ensure that all the water has fully drained.

For extra protection, you also can buy insulating tape to wrap around any exterior pipes and any other pipes that are found in the basement.

If you have plans to repair any of your pipes, it might be useful to paint your exterior faucet handles a bright color to make them easier to spot against snow or at night.

6. Prepare for Winter Storms

Winter brings freezing rain, sleet and blizzards. Get prepared ahead of time so that the next big storm doesn’t leave you in trouble.

If you have a generator, you want to make sure that it’s working. Also, keep a stash of batteries for lanterns and flashlights in case of power outages and blackouts. Another good tip is to keep a solar-powered or battery-operated radio in your home. This means that if cellphone reception goes out, you can keep up to date with the news and weather.

Check the condition of your snow shovels, gloves and window scrapers. Store any heavy snow supplies near the door where you can get quick access to them.

Finally, a buildup of heavy snow on a tree limb can increase the risk of them breaking off. This poses a threat of injury to people and property damage, so steer clear of heavily-wooded areas during a storm for your own safety.

Ensure your home is protected during the winter season by speaking to a member of our AAA team about your home insurance options today.