Winterizing your home can help you save money all winter and prevent thousands of dollars in damages that may not be covered even under the most comprehensive homeowners insurance. Homeowners insurance policies do not cover damages that are caused by improper maintenance.
Inspect your roof
Inspect your roof before harsh winter weather can turn a small problem into a bigger issue. The most important things you should check are the health of your shingles and ventilation. Repair any shingles that are cracked or loose to prevent leaks and other damages. Cracked or missing shingles can cause bad roof ventilation which also raises your energy bill.
Clean your gutters
When debris like dead leaves and tree branches are not cleared out, they can clog your gutters and prevent water from draining away from your house. If water does not drain properly, it can cause water damage in the foundation and walls. To clean out your gutters, get a pair of heavy duty gloves and safety glasses. You can use a gutter scoop to get all the debris out or use a pressure washer or leaf blower and let them do the work. If there are any leaks or cracks in your gutters, this is the best time to get repairs done.
Divert water away from your foundation
Make sure your downspout extensions are properly installed and are free of debris. Downspout extensions help keep water away from the base of your home that can damage your basement, foundation and structure of your house. Extensions should be at least three to four feet away from the foundation.
Turn off outdoor faucets
First, remove any garden hoses and drain any water out of them. Inside your home, find the shutoff valve for the faucets and turn it off. Go back outside and open your faucets and let any remaining water flow out. Go back to the shutoff valve and take off the bleeder cap to let the remaining water drain out of the pipes. Faucets that are not turned off can lead to frozen and burst pipes. Burst pipes may be covered in a policy if it has the optional homeowners insurance endorsement. However, if the insurance company says the pipes burst because they were not properly taken care of, the damages may not be covered.
Check outdoor lighting
Colder weather can decrease the life of a light bulb. Replace any light bulbs that are out especially since there is less daylight during the winter. A properly lit area can prevent slipping on ice and other winter hazards.
Tune-up your furnace
Tuning up your furnace increases its efficiency and helps lower your energy bill. Tuning up your furnace also cleans out the built up dust and dirt that has built up all summer long.
Add insulation in the attic
An attic is the main source of heat lose in the winter. To prevent heat loss and lower your energy bill this winter, make sure your attic is properly insulated. In an unfinished attic, the insulation on the floor should at least be up to the joists.
Weatherstripping limits the amount of air that flows through closed windows and doors. Weatherstripping windows and doors will keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter and is a great way to save on your energy bill as well.
Test your sump pump
Test your sump pump to make sure it is running correctly so that it is ready to handle large amounts of melting snow. Floods are not covered under any homeowners insurance policies and backed up sump pumps are only covered if policyholders have the endorsement on their policy.
Replace furnace filters
Dirty furnace filters will make your furnace work harder and make it less efficient. A good rule to follow is:
- one or two-inch filters should be replaced every three months
- four-inch filters should be replaced every six months
- five-inch filters should be replaced every 12 months