Fall comes and goes in a blink of an eye. Before you know it, the Wasatch Mountains are shining with snow and temperatures have dropped unpleasantly low. The almost criminal time between fall and winter is discouraging, but not as discouraging as entering the first big snow storm or cold spell in a home that hasn’t been properly prepared. While we have absolutely zero authority on the winter clothes you should buy or the Black Friday deals you should keep an eye on, we do know a thing or two about winter preparation.
Pipes & Gutters
Oh boy. Prolonged exposure to exterior pipes and gutters in sub-freeing temperatures can give you a variety of problems, including frozen pipes that can and often burst and a variety of gutter issues, ranging from ice dams to large, dangerous icicles. Maintenance and preparation is key.
One of the major killers to home plumbing is a burst pipe, a result of water expansion and freezing within pipes. Pipes that run along the outside of a home are at great risk. You should:
- detach, drain, and store water hoses indoors before the first big freeze
- make sure your outdoor spigots are frost-proof (if not, install a faucet insulator)
Insulate Indoor Pipes
Insulating any and all overexposed water pipes is crucial before winter hits. The likelihood of pipes freezing goes significantly up in these areas:
- crawl spaces
- sink cabinets
Apply pipe sleeves or thermostatically heat tape to these areas to be safe. The odds of having a frozen pipe is greatly reduced with this simple preparation.
Massive icicles and and ice dams can become a major concern when gutters aren’t maintained. After all the leaves have fallen, clean out debris and leaves from gutters to prepare for winter. In addition, make sure your roof is well insulated to avoid ice dams. An ice dam occurs when melted snow runs down the roof and refreezes in gutters and seeps in under the roof, soaking walls and causing mold growth.
Walls, Windows & Doors
If you’ve had frozen pipes in the past, even with pipe insulation applied, you could be dealing with under insulated walls. While it’s not terribly expensive to open up a north facing wall in a cold climate to adjust or add insulation, it is a hassle that’ll pay off in the end. In addition, check the caulking on windows and apply new weatherstripping to doors.
If you didn’t get around to calling an HVAC pro during your fall home preparation, it’s not too late. A weak or under-performing heating system doesn’t just leave you wearing an additional sweater, it can also increase your energy bill each month. Filters need to be replaced and regular maintenance is required, whether it’s done by you or a professional. The surest way to know your system is efficient and functioning properly is to call a pro.