Welcome to “At Home With Heidi & Sandy.” We are here to give you the inside scoop on Winterization Tips this month. Settle in, enjoy and take those precautions to ensure you do not have winter issues in your home. Remember, for winterization of your home you can certainly take precautions wherever you can; however, unexpected situations can occur so an astute, shrewd look around your home can make the difference between a problem or potential crisis being caught early or a problem or potential crisis that can lead to damage and a huge expense and repairs.
Sandy: We all know that before winter hits Yavapai County our summer clothes are tucked away and the flip flops are back in the closet. I am one who is excited to bring out the sweaters, coats, scarves and boots that will keep our bodies cozy when there’s a chill in the air.
Heidi: I wonder how many of us take the steps to prepare our homes for winter weather? Readying our homes for winter, also known as “winterizing,” will not only help with the family staying snug and warm while saving money on energy bills, but it also protects your home from damage that can lead to costly repairs.
Sandy: Heidi, with fall in the air, it is important for homeowners to prepare and gear up for our winter cold.
Heidi: You are right, Sandy. The worst thing in the world is turning on the heat and cold air is blasting through the system or worse yet, pipes freeze and there is serious water damage. What do you say we give our readers a relatively easy checklist of points to do before winter? Remember, winterizing can prevent harmful damage.
Sandy: Before the snow flies check those gutters. Make sure your gutters are clean so that they drain properly. After a snowfall, warmer daytime temperatures will melt the snow on the roof. If the gutters are clean, the melted snow drains away. Gutters clogged with debris, however, can prevent melting ice and snow from draining properly. When refreezing occurs overnight, ice dams are created at the gutters’ edge. Ice dams can force water to enter your home through the inside walls and cause major damage.
Heidi: I am all about keeping warm during the winter so, it is important to test the heating system now to make sure it heats to at least 80 degrees. Listen for the furnace to turn on and start to blow warm air. Make sure the system has clean air filters installed and if you have a propane system make sure your storage tank is ready to go. Filters should be changed once a month, especially throughout the winter season. Now is the time to call an HVAC company for a winter tune-up. And check those smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are in working order.
Sandy: Another important winterization tip is to get your roof inspected. Have a roofer come out and inspect the roof for missing flashing or damaged shingles. Check for flashing missing around the fireplace or other areas of roof penetrations. These areas are cause for roof leaks due to winter rain and snow. If you have a flat roof, make sure the “scupper” drain is clear and free of material.
Heidi: Chimneys/Fireplaces are important to winterize and inspect now! Creosote, created by smoke, soot and other particles that cling to the walls of the chimney, is highly flammable. Cleaning logs are not recommended to clean your chimneys. More than 50,000 fires occur each year in residential homes in the United States, with 87 percent of those fires classified as “confined fires,” meaning they are confined to such areas as fireplaces, chimneys/flues, pots on stoves or other noncombustible containers. Of this 87 percent, 56 percent are chimney/fireplace or flue fires.
Sandy: Even if homeowners do not use their fireplace often, an annual checkup is recommended to protect against obstructions such as bird nests or debris and leaves. An inspection can also uncover other types of deterioration that can cause your chimney to be unsafe.
Sandy: We have had multiple house fires during winter caused by non-functioning fireplaces and chimneys. I agree with Heidi, give your fireplace and chimney a good “once over” inspection before burning wood and heating in the winter.
Heidi: Another winterization tip is to check for exposed piping. Remember that plumbing is susceptible to our cold and as we found out from winters past that bursting pipes happened throughout town. If you have exposed pipes, make sure they are insulated.
Sandy: It is also important to disconnect hoses from exterior faucets and make sure the water supply is drained as well as purging the irrigation systems no later than the end of October. Decorative fountains should also be drained, covered and insulated for the winter.
Heidi: We have quite a few folks who leave the area during winter and it is important that they winterize their home as well. Turn off the water. Unused plumbing lines during the winter can easily burst with freezing and thawing cycles. After turning off the water, open all faucets and allow them to drain completely. It is a good idea to keep water in toilet bowls to prevent sewer gases from the inside air. If you do not turn off the water, then make sure all exposed pipes are wrapped – this includes all pipes under cupboards in garages, basements, etc. If you do not want to turn off the water, you can leave a trickle of water running to prevent pipes from freezing or bursting. It is recommended to leave the water trickling from a faucet closest to where water enters the house and then at a faucet that is the farthest away from where the water line enters the home.
Sandy: Heidi, that is a very good point. Also, absentee homeowners should make sure all electric and gas systems are operating properly and keep the utilities on. They might want to keep the heat on low to help protect the inside of the home; a minimal heating bill would certainly seem to outweigh the potential cost of repairs.
Sandy: Again as with an occupied home, check the gutter and roof systems. Gutters can develop real winter problems if ice and snow is allowed to build up, so make sure they are clean.
Heidi: I heard that antifreeze can be installed to protect plumbing in severe winter areas? Sandy, is this true?
Sandy: Yes, antifreeze prevents the pipes from bursting in sub-zero temperatures and special non-toxic antifreeze is available for home systems. Before you decide to give your plumbing system a healthy dose of environmentally friendly antifreeze for the winter – call a licensed plumber first to cover all of your bases!
Thanks for stopping in “At Home with Heidi and Sandy.”
You’re in good company and we love sharing important information with you.
See you next month. QCBN
By Heidi Marshall and Sandy Griffis
Heidi Marshall, Associate Broker, SRES, ABR, CFS, Realtor with Windermere, 928-830-2320.
Sandy Griffis, Executive Director, Yavapai County Contractors Association. 928-778-0040.