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Prepare Your Home Long Before the Freezin' Season

Prepare Your Home Long Before the Freezin' Season

July 30, 2019

Winter time – yes, it's a ways off and probably the last thing on your mind.  North Texas can have its share of very cold days, and according to the National Weather Service, the DFW metro area is capable of experiencing single digit temperatures, with an average of 23 days of out each winter when temps are below freezing, and it would take only one below-freezing day to create some damage to one's home.

Being proactive with preparing for freezing temps is all about planning ahead and saving, potentially, thousands of dollars in repair costs.  Frozen pipes are only one example – when pipes freeze, it can lead to pipes that burst and cause major water damage.

Here are some suggestions that will ensure your home will be able to combat the cold, while keeping you, your family, and your home, safe and warm.

The Gutters

Gutters are often overlooked and can easily become impacted with sticks, leaves and other debris.  If gunk is not removed during the fall, winter snow and sleet will turn that mess into a rotted mass that will eventually clog downspouts and trap water – especially once the spring rains, begin.  This can lead to water damage on the outside and the inside of one's home as well as create foundation problems if flooding occurs around the home's parameter.

Once gutter debris has been removed, it's a good idea to invest in a handy and easy-to-use telescoping-hose attachment designed for gutter cleaning.  If downspouts are clogged, you or a professional may need to use a plumber's snake to loosen any accumulations that might be difficult to remove.  


The Chimney

You will want to determine if your chimney is safe to use throughout the winter.  Not only can deteriorated bricks be in need of replacement, but creosote may be present in the flue.  Creosote is a gooey, smelly byproduct of combustion, and even a fourth-inch of the flammable stuff in the flue can contribute to a major fire.  Bob Villa, home-renovating expert, states:  “Creosote build-up contributes to 25% of all house fires in the US, each year”.  Because of this, hiring a chimney-sweep to thoroughly inspect your fireplace will ensure your cozy winter fire doesn't turn into one that becomes out of control.     

The Roof

Inspecting your home's roof is one of the most-basic measures you can take to prepare for winter.  Use binoculars to inspect your shingles for signs of displacement, cracking and curling.  While you're at it, get a close-up view of the metal flashing to make sure it is void of holes, cracks or tears since it is, here, where water can easily infiltrate.  If necessary, hire a professional to make any repairs to avoid moisture damage from sleet or snow.  

The Hose Spigots

Winterizing your outside hose spigots will prevent the hose faucets from freezing.  You can add slip-on pipe fittings that come in various materials, shapes and sizes which are designed to block the cold air from reaching the faucet.  Disconnect outdoor hoses, turn off the flow of water, and make sure all the water has been, thoroughly, drained.   

The Ceiling Fans

It's an easy thing to forget:  reversing the flow of ceiling fans.  Make sure your fans' blades move in a clockwise direction during colder weather and turn the speed setting to 'low'.  The slow, clockwise movement will cause the room's air to move upward, and force warmer air, downward.  As a result, the furnace will operate less often, bringing utility bills downward, right along with the warmer air! 

The Alarms & Detectors

Fire alarms and carbon-monoxide detectors save lives, but they will save lives only if the batteries are working properly.  Carbon monoxide, in particular, is an especially concerning issue since it is colorless and odorless, and has the potential to be fatal.  This can be, especially concerning since many of us keep our homes tightly sealed during the winter.  This means CO2 detectors should be equipped with new batteries towards the end of each fall season – this applies to batteries in fire alarms, as well.  Take the extra step to test all the batteries, monthly, to make sure they are performing properly.  

The Furnace Filter

Things that are 'out of sight are, often, out of mind' and furnace filters would qualify.  Furnace filters should be changed once every 3 months, or more often, especially if pets live in the home.  When filters become clogged, the performance ability of the furnace is strained as well as the furnace's internal workings.

Hire an HVAC pro to inspect all components of your furnace and make any repairs as well as check for the presence of any hazardous gases.  The last thing you need is a furnace that conks out during a cold snap which could then, cause your pipes to freeze.  

Your Lawn and Shrubs

It isn't only the home that should be winter-ready – your lawn and shrubs need some pre-winter TLC, as well.  Prune bushes and shrubs towards the end of the fall season – there are several good reasons for this:  1) it allows perennials to utilize maximized oxygen levels 2) perennials will be able to optimally combat the cold 3) perennials will end up growing more robustly once spring arrives.  Be careful to not prune too early, however.  Premature pruning can harm shrubs and bushes since it leaves them far more vulnerable to various plant diseases, so it's a good idea to wait until plants' leaves have withered or fallen before getting out the shears.

Lawns, too, need a little extra attention before temps begin to fall.  Grass should be watered until the ground freezes since some grasses require moisture and will continue to grow until that time.  During autumn, lawns will greatly benefit from fall aeration.  This procedure gently breaks up some of the top soil to allow air, water and fertilizer to maximally enrich the soil and help establish a stronger root system.  And don't forget that all-important fall fertilization – it permits grass to store carbohydrates

which will serve as a source of much-needed energy that will be used once the weather warms, again.

Being Proactive is Prudent

Preparing your home and property for the cold is wise, indeed.  Your efforts will go a long way towards ensuring your home's winter survival is a breeze.  When you take care of your home and property, it will look dynamic, it will perform beautifully, and it will save you money in the long run!   

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