How to winterize your home


November’s ice storm reminded us winter in Indiana is always full of surprises, which is why its important to properly winterize your home before its too late, or too cold. Here’s a few tips to get the home in order before there’s a foot of snow, or inches of ice, on the ground.

Prevent frozen, bursting pipes — Unhook all exterior hoses from the house. Not doing so can result in a cracked pipe if water gets backed up and freezes, and when the forecast calls for single digit highs and lows, keep cabinet doors open under sinks located along the perimeter of the home. This allows warm air to reach the pipes so they don’t get too cold or freeze. Finally, know where the main water cutoff switch is located, just in case a pipe bursts.

Trim branches — If branches hang over the edge of the house, consider hiring a professional tree service to trim them back. Branches weighed down by snow and ice can break, which could result in damage to the roof or exterior of the home.

Check for cracks and leaks — Before its too miserable to go outdoors, walk around the exterior of the home and identify any cracks, holes or crevices near the doors, windows or in the foundation. In most cases, these can be easily filled with caulk or weather stripping. Mice can get into holes the size of a dime, so its important to make sure these access points are secured and repaired.

Prepare the furnace — If the furnace hasn’t been inspected for awhile, call an HVAC professional to make sure everything is in proper working order, and don’t forget to change the filter every month.

Clean gutters and downspouts — If ice develops in the gutters, it can easily create an ice dam, which may result in water damage. Remove leaves and debris from gutters then use a hose to push out any remaining clutter.

Clean the chimney — Every few years, depending upon how often its used, the chimney and fireplace should be cleaned to remove soot and creosote, and check for any damage to the damper and mortar. Adding caps or screens to the top of the chimney is an excellent way to keep out rodents, like raccoons.

Change batteries — If the batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors haven’t been changed recently, now is the time to do so. Winter is the season when indoor fires and carbon monoxide poisoning are most common, making it important that the alarms work properly.

Prepping the home for winter is a matter of taking time to inspect the exterior, do some minor cleaning and adjustments. These simple steps don’t require much time and can easily be done over the weekend, but not being prepared for winter’s wrath could end up in costly repairs.