With winter approaching in the Asheville area, making sure your home is equipped to handle the elements is important. While Western North Carolina can see some relatively warm days during the winter, there are still enough sustained cold snaps to warrant a thorough home prep. From heating to insulation to weather safety measures, having everything in and around your house readied can prevent cold-triggered dilemmas down the line.
Preventive maintenance is key to the health of your heating system, extending its life and identifying potential problems before they turn into major winter headaches. Before the cold settles in, have your furnace or boiler checked; clean or replace the furnace filter if you have a forced hot air system; if you have a working fireplace, make sure to have your chimney checked and serviced annually. Once winter is under way, have fuel tanks filled, and monitor levels throughout the season; never set your heat lower than 55 degrees, as the walls where water pipes live are colder than your home’s interior. Which brings us to …
When water inside pipes freezes, the expansion can cause pipes to crack or burst. Pipes can also burst when water builds behind a chunk of ice, so leaving faucets dripping in very cold weather, especially in colder parts of your house (basements and utility rooms), is a good idea. Don’t forget about exterior faucets and sprinkler systems: Drain water from them to keep those pipes from freezing, disconnect outdoor hoses, and cover outdoor faucets with foam insulators. Pay particular attention to piping in garages, crawl spaces and attics, where it could be colder, and consider extra insulation for these areas. Know where the water shutoff for your home is, in case your pipes do freeze; closing off the supply can prevent a water disaster.
Inspect and upgrade insulation regularly, and consider weather stripping for added protection against cold, blustery days. Extra insulation in attics can avoid ice dams: When too much heat escapes into the attic, it can warm icy roofs that can eventually refreeze and cause an ice dam. Such situations create the potential for water damage inside your home. Weather strip doors and windows to prevent drafts and heat loss. Now is the time to install storm windows if you have them.
Safety and supplies
Ice and snow can pose home safety concerns. Maintain trees in your yard to avoid ice-laden branch breaks that can lead to injury, home damage, or downed power lines. Make sure pathways to your home are free of potential pitfalls by ensuring steps and handrails are in good condition; check that you have snow shovels and rakes, as well as ice-melting compounds. Keep bottled water, nonperishable foods and first-aid supplies on hand in case of winter storm power outages.
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