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Use This Checklist To Prepare Your Home For Winter

Hot summer days and cold winter nights are the norm here in Amarillo. Residents know that, as the hot summer days begin to wane, the cold winter nights are soon to come. Using a specifically designed and proven checklist to help prepare your home for winter during the fall will ensure that you are not dealing with cold drafts in December or frozen pipes in February.

Use the checklist below to get your home ready for the coming winter months.

Start at the top

  • Start on the roof. Check for missing or damaged shingles. Get a roofer out to make any repairs.
  • Check your gutters and downspouts. Make sure the fall leaves are clear. Frozen wet leaves can add a great deal of weight to the gutters, which could cause them to fail and cause significant damage.
  • Check the chimney. Make sure birds and other animals have not made nests inside over the spring and summer. If they have, clean it out.

Be prepared to keep your home warm when cold weather hits

  • Have the chimney cleaned every two to three years. This ensures the draft of the chimney is clear before you light the first fire of winter. A chimney sweep can do the job faster, cleaner, and without the mess that a do-it-yourself attempt will create.
  • If you use wood for heating fuel, make sure you have plenty on hand before winter hits. If you have to go find some during the coldest months, you will pay a premium price. Keep a small stack by the fireplace at all times.
  • Have a professional come out and perform routine maintenance on your furnace or heat pump. This prolongs the equipment's life and reduces the need for emergency repairs.

Check the outside of your home for places where Mother Nature can sneak in

  • Check your windows and doors for air leaks. There are a couple of ways to do this. Wait until a windy day. Go inside and close the windows. You will feel air coming in where you have leaks. If you don't want to wait for a windy day, you pass a lit incense stick along the edge of the windows and doors. When there is an air leak, the smoke will go horizontal. Don’t use any kind of open flame.  You can quickly and easily fix any air leaks with inexpensive rope caulk.
  • If you have storm windows, install them by the first couple weeks of November. This will keep the house as warm as possible when the winter winds bear down.
  • Check the exterior of the home for leaks. You may see a gap in the siding or a gap around a pipe going into the foundation. Plugging these leaks can help keep winter energy bills down.

Don't forget the plumbing

  • Check your uninsulated spaces, like the crawl space and uninsulated outer walls, for exposed pipes. Insulate them with foam insulation. For the pipes most vulnerable to freezing, wrap the pipe with heating tape before you insulate.
  • Turn off your exterior faucets from the inside. Drain any water remaining in the pipes. You can use a faucet insulation cover to prevent the faucet from cracking.
  • Winterize your sprinkler system beginning of November.

Now for the inside

  • Check the fire bricks that line the fireplace. Have any cracks professionally sealed.  Any gaps can let flames go into the gaps around the fireplace and cause a structural fire.
  • Check the attic and make sure you have enough insulation. The better your insulation barrier, the better your house will keep the heat in during the cold winter months. Check existing insulation for dirty spots which can show air leaks. Find the leaks and plug them.
  • Be sure that you have changed the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace the detectors every five years.

Protect Your Outdoor Assets

  • Clean and cover your patio furniture. Cleaning will remove debris and allow you to spot rust. Treat rust areas. You can store the patio furniture in the garage, a garden shed, or leave it where it always sits. Cover it, but remember to leave enough airflow to prevent mold and mildew growth.
  • Be sure to drain all garden hoses. It is best to store them inside the garage or a storage shed to prevent splitting and rot.

Prepare Your Equipment for Snow Removal

  • Check your snow shovels and other snow removal equipment before you need it. Getting new equipment is much easier now than when you are facing a quickly approaching blizzard and empty store shelves.

Following this checklist will make getting through the approaching winter months easier. It will also make your spring easier with less repairs needed. Protection and prevention are the best policies but sometimes life brings unforeseen troubles your way. Those are the times when the best protection is a good insurance policy.  If you have any questions about insurance or need more information on how to protect your property and your family, contact us here at NCW Insurance. Call us today at (806) 376-6301 or send us an email by clicking here to Contact Us. Check out the Neely, Craig & Walton website for information about our agency and services and if you are in the area, visit our office at 15 Medical Drive in Amarillo, Texas or one of our other offices in Claude, Dalhart or Fort Worth, Texas.