Now that we’ve retired our Halloween costumes, rakes and pumpkins, tis the season for cozy nights by the fireplace and hot chocolate. Winter can be a delightful time, but like any season in New England, we take the good with the bad. So, before you bust out the big sweaters and slippers, make sure your home is prepared for the cold months ahead by considering some simple winterization steps:
Be wary of ice dams. Ice dams are a buildup of ice in gutters and roof overhangs that form when the snow melts from the rooftop and refreezes in gutters. Given the amount of snowfall we receive in New England, ice dams can be a common problem for regional homeowners. Ice dam removal and prevention tips:
- For a quick fix, immediately following a snowstorm, use a roof rake to clear off the first three to four feet of snow to prevent it from refreezing in your gutters. Be sure to clear any debris out of the downspouts so the gutters can properly drain.
- Keeping your attic cold is another way to help prevent snow from melting and refreezing in your gutters. To do this, you’ll need a well-insulated space free of air leaks.
For more information on ice dam prevention and removal, check out this blog post.
Watch out for frozen pipes. Frozen pipes are another classic headache for homeowners – especially in areas subject to harsh winters. Frozen pipes aren’t exactly easy to deal with – and can be quite costly – so in order to prevent them from happening, consider the following steps:
- Wrap your pipes with insulation
- Seal cracks and holes in your home’s walls and foundation
- Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to increase warm airflow to hard-to-reach plumbing
- Let your faucet drip to alleviate pressure in the pipes
- Be sure your home’s temperature doesn’t dip lower than 55°F
Read our blog post on frozen pipes to learn more about prevention and treatments.
Replace the furnace filter. Throughout the winter, if your heating system has a filter, it’s important to change or clean it about once a month. A fresh filter every 30 days or so will keep the airflow clear, thus decreasing energy demand and saving you money on heating bills. If you have other types of heating systems, such as oil or gas, it’s also a good idea to schedule an annual service by the oil or gas company.
Check the chimney. If your home has a fireplace or a wood burning stove that you plan to use, be sure to get the chimney or flue inspected by a professional. While you’re thinking about that cozy fire, don’t forget to replace the batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, especially those closest to the heat source.
Catch the drafts. Perhaps one of the simplest yet most effective steps you can take in winterizing your home is to seal air drafts. Inspect windows and doors leading outside and feel for cool drafts. If you find one, seal it with a door sweep or a draft snake for a quick fix. If your budget permits, consider installing storm doors and windows that are better equipped for blocking cold air.
Regulate your thermostat. Investing in a programmable thermostat that regulates your home’s temperature during the day and at night could save you money on heating bills. According to energy.gov, homeowners can “easily save energy in the winter by setting the thermostat to 68°F while [they’re] awake and setting it lower while [they’re] asleep or away.”
Rotate your ceiling fan. This concept might seem counterintuitive since fans are traditionally associated with creating a cool relief in the summertime. But, if you rotate your ceiling fan clockwise at a slow speed, it’ll pull cool air up and push hot air down.
Preparing your house for winter might seem daunting, but if you need motivation, just think about last year’s brutal winter and you’ll be running to the hardware store for sealant and smoke detector batteries in no time. And if you’re feeling ambitious, check out this helpful blog post from our affiliate, Plymouth Rock Assurance, on how to winterize your car!
Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowners and auto insurance throughout the northeast.