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Winterize Your Home
One of the best ways of protecting your home during the wintertime is to winterize it. When your home is prepared for the cold winter months and any damage that could ensue, you avoid the need to file an insurance claim that could cause your rates to go up. Your home is an investment that you want to take care of and by following a few simple steps, you can keep your investment safe and secure from damage.

One of the most important things to prepare for the winter is your furnace. In addition to needing it to keep you warm, you can help the life of the furnace last longer. Before the winter months, you should always have your furnace filters cleaned. Depending on the type of furnace you have, you will need to either replace the old filters or clean the permanent ones. For a very reasonable fee, you can have a professional come to your home and check the pilot light and thermostat to make sure they are both working properly. This individual will also check your furnace to ensure the intake pipe for fuel is fitted tightly and not leaking or loose, which could create serious problems.

If you live on property where there are many trees, you should have any dead branches trimmed. During the winter, the weight of snow or ice can cause the limbs to break off, crashing down onto your home or car. If the tree limbs hang over a public area such as a sidewalk, you would not want an innocent person to be walking by, only to be hit by a falling branch.

Many people overlook the importance of having leaves and other debris removed from the gutters before winter. If you have gutters that are filled, when rain freezes, it clings to the leaves or debris, creating excessive weight that could easily cause the gutters to break or fall down. This is also a problem if you have a fireplace. Falling leaves can easily clog up the chimney, creating the potential for a fire or smoke filtering back into the home since it would not be able to escape properly. The best way to prevent this problem is to have a protective screen installed over the chimney. If you suspect you have debris in your chimney, you should have a chimney sweep clean it before you use it.

Doors and windows will eventually start to pull loose, allowing the cold winter air to seep into your home. By reapplying caulk, you can stop any cold air leakage, which will help lower the cost of your heating utility bill. Another consideration for people living where it snows often is the amount of snow or ice that builds up around the base of the garage door. When buildup occurs, the door will not close properly, leaving gaps for cold air and eventually warping the door itself.

One of the most important aspects of winterizing a home is the water pipes. During excessive cold months, water in the pipes will freeze, causing the pipe to burst and flooding the home with water. The damage can be extensive and very expensive. You can prevent this problem inexpensively and easily by wrapping your pipes with hose bibs. These bibs are made from insulated material that will keep the pipes warm during intense cold weather.

While most people try to find ways of conserving energy, during the wintertime, you should never allow your home to dip below 65 degrees. If planning a vacation to a warmer climate and plan to be gone for several weeks, you can lower the thermostat so you are not overheating it for your comfort while gone but still keep the home safe. Therefore, by setting your thermostat at 65 degrees, pipes will not freeze and the home will remain safe.

For your and other people’s safety, you always want to make sure both inside and outside handrails are secure. This is especially important during the winter when snow and ice are present. You want to provide something sturdy for people to hold onto should your walkway be covered with ice. Finally, during the winter when you will not be using gardening equipment that uses gasoline such as edger, lawnmowers, or weed whackers, you should drain the gasoline into an appropriate container.

All of these things are affordable and by taking a little bit of precaution, you can literally save yourself thousands of dollars should something go wrong. Therefore, a little planning will go a long way in protecting your home.

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