With November right around the corner, it can no longer be denied: fall is here. While there are a variety of great things about this time of year – such as the cooler temperatures and fall foliage – it brings with it a variety of maintenance tasks that homeowners need to perform in order to prepare for the bitter cold of the upcoming winter months.
Not sure where to get started? The following tips from Redfin include some of the tasks that homeowners should be sure to take care of before the Winter Solstice arrives in late December. Though the tasks may be time consuming, prepping your home for Old Man Winter could end up saving you both time and money by avoiding a potential homeowners insurance claim caused by freezing temperatures or heavy snow.
“Fall is an ideal transition period to prepare for the harsh conditions of winter.”
- Inspect your home’s plumbing. When the temperatures plummet, it puts an added strain on a home’s plumbing system, evidenced by frozen pipes. If you don’t have a background in plumbing, you may want to enlist the services of a professional who can inspect water valves in the basement, garage, or attic, as these are portions of the house that are vulnerable to colder temperatures. They may suggest that the pipes be insulated. Another quick way to stave off frozen pipes is by letting the home’s faucet drip. If temperatures are forecast to drop significantly overnight, maintenance experts say that cracking the faucet so that a slow stream of water flows helps prevent pipes from freezing over.
- Check windows and doors. Of course, the windows and doors are the primary outlets to the elements. Without the proper maintenance, however, the warm air that’s inside the home can escape, leading to expensive utility bills. Redfin experts recommend installing weather stripping and caulking to block drafts and to repair any loose window or door frames. Additionally, summer screens should be swapped out for winter storm screens, which are more resistant to wind.
- Examine heating system. There are many heating systems that homeowners use to stay warm in the winter or any other time of the year when it’s cold out. A popular source is an HVAC system. While reliable, an HVAC system that breaks down during the dead of winter can result in an expensive repair. To avoid this, make sure that it’s inspected and repaired if fixes went neglected during the summer. You should also be sure to replace filters regularly, which can accumulate with debris quickly.
- Keep flammable items away from heat. According to the National Fire Protection Association, home fires are quite common in the winter, largely as a result of home furnishings catching fire when placed next to heating sources. Whether you’re using an HVAC system, portable electric heater, or wood stove, ensure that curtains, furniture, and other fabrics are a safe distance away from them.
- Test carbon monoxide detector. Known as the silent killer, carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that’s released from heating sources. When there’s a leak in a furnace or stove, the fumes can be deadly. In 2010, fire departments responded to more than 80,000 non-fire carbon monoxide incidents nationwide, according to NFPA. You should be sure to check your detector to see that it’s working and if battery needs to be replaced.
Winter storms are the third-largest source of catastrophe losses for property owners, according to Munich Re. Insured losses last year totaled nearly $2 billion, up sharply from $38 million the previous year.
Visit Redfin for other fall maintenance recommendations.
This article is intended for informational purposes only. It does not replace or modify the information contained in your insurance policy.