A thermometer shows 40 below

Is your home ready for 40 below zero?

This winter is forecasted by the Farmers’ Almanac to be cold…very cold. Although it is nothing we Northerners haven’t experienced before, it is always a good idea to be prepared, especially when it comes to your home. Here are some tips to winterize your home this year. 40 below zero? No problem.

Protect Your Pipes
When water freezes, it expands. So, if water inside your pipes freeze then the pipes may expand and burst, which can cause massive damage. Here are some things you can do to avoid this potential catastrophe. First, you’ll want to drain water from any outdoor faucets or pipes and disconnect and store outdoor hoses. Then, it is a good idea to cover outdoor faucets with foam insulators and protect any water pipes that run through unheated areas of your home with insulation. Finally, if you are leaving your home during a cold snap, you will want to have someone come into your home to run a good amount of hot water and flush the toilets at least once/day.

Get Your Heat Source Ready
Getting your pellet stove, fireplace insert, furnace or boiler ready for the heating season is essential.
If you have a pellet stove or fireplace insert, you’ll need to do a thorough cleaning and inspect it to ensure that everything is in working order. Every stove/insert make and model is different so you should refer to your owners manual for specific guidelines and maintenance instructions.

As for your furnace, HVAC experts say an annual inspection/service can prolong the life of the system and save energy. Be sure to change your furnace filter at the start of the season and then every 2-4 months. Clogged or dirty filters are much less efficient. You also will want to make sure circulating pumps are turned on and working correctly. Finally, you might consider installing a programmable thermostat and program it to be cooler at night and when you are not at home to save costs.

Prevent Heat from Escaping
You will want to minimize the amount of heat escaping from your home. Be sure to caulk around windows and install window stripping around doors if needed. There are also commercially-available plastic window films (like plastic wrap) that can be attached to the window; it acts similarly to another pane of glass by providing another barrier. Window treatments can also help. Finally, if the windows and doors are older, you may want to consider replacing them with more efficient ones.

Have Cold-weather Essentials on Hand
With winter storms often come power outages. You will want to be prepared for those special emergencies. Here are some items that every household should have:
– An emergency kit which includes flashlights, indoor candles, matches/lighter and batteries
– A working, fully charged fire extinguisher
– An alternative heat source such as a generator, wood-burning or pellet stove, fireplace
– A snow shovel and sand/gravel

In completing these tasks, you can be assured that you and your home are well on your way to face Mother Nature this winter.