Winter Proof Your Home

Even if the temperatures are still mild in your neck of the woods, there is no denying that winter is on its way, and it’s time to winterize your home. According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), many winter-related disasters can be prevented if people take a few simple steps to protect their home from freezing temperatures, snow and wind.

“Standard homeowners policies cover winter-related disasters such as burst pipes, ice dams, and wind damage caused by weight of ice or snow, as well as fire-related losses,” said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I. “Coverage for flooding is available from the National Flood Insurance Program and from some private insurance companies. Winter-related damage to cars is generally covered under the comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy.”

The I.I.I. offers the following tips for winterizing your home:

OUTSIDE YOUR HOUSE
Clean out gutters. Remove leaves, sticks and other debris from gutters, so melting snow and ice can flow freely. This can prevent ice damming, a condition where water is unable to drain through the gutters and instead seeps into the house causing water to drip from the ceiling and walls.

Install gutter guards. Available in most hardware and home stores, gutter guards prevent debris from entering the gutter and interfering with the flow of water away from the house and into the ground.

Trim trees and remove dead branches. Ice, snow and wind could cause weak trees or branches to break and damage your home or car, or injure someone walking by your property.

Repair steps and handrails. This may prevent someone from falling and seriously being injured. Broken stairs and banisters can become lethal when covered with snow and ice.

Seal cracks in holes in outside walls and foundations. Use caulking to protect water pipes and make sure that skylights and other roof openings have proper weather stripping to prevent snowmelt from seeping in.

INSIDE YOUR HOUSE
Keep the house warm. Set the thermostat for at least 65 degrees—since the temperature inside the walls, where the pipes are located, is substantially colder a lower temperature will not keep the pipes from freezing.

Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. If too much heat escapes through the attic, it can cause snow or ice to melt on the roof. Water can then re-freeze, causing more snow and ice to build up. This can result in a collapsed roof, and can contribute to ice damming. Ideally, the attic should be five to 10 degrees warmer than the outside air. Well-insulated basements and crawl spaces will also help protect pipes from freezing. You may also consider insulating unfinished rooms such as garages to keep pipes from freezing.

Have the heating system serviced. Furnaces, boilers and chimneys should be serviced at least once a year to prevent fire and smoke damage.

Check pipes. Look closely for cracks and leaks and have the pipes repaired immediately. Wrap exposed pipes with heating tape.

Install an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system. This will protect the system against increased pressure caused by freezing pipes and can help prevent your pipes from bursting.

Make sure that smoke and fire alarms are working properly.
Residential fires increase in the winter, so it is important to protect your family with working alarm systems. Also, consider installing a carbon monoxide detector, since a well sealed home can trap this toxic gas.

Learn how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are located. If your pipes freeze, time is of the essence. The quicker you can shut off the water or direct your plumber to the problem, the better chance you have to prevent pipes from bursting.

Hire a licensed contractor to look for structural damage. If damage is discovered, have it repaired now rather than waiting for a problem to occur. Also, ask about ways to prevent water damage due to snow-related flooding. Plastic coatings for internal basement walls, sump pumps and other methods can prevent flood damage to your home and belongings.

The I.I.I.’s free Know Your Plan app, available in the iTunes App store, provides customizable to-do lists, communication tools, and other resources to safeguard your home and family—it includes a winter weather checklist to make preparing your home for the cold a snap.

Source: www.iii.org

Button-Up Your Home for Winter

Frosty Footpath - winter snow
Frosty Footpath – winter snow (Photo credit: blmiers2)

(BPT) – As the leaves turn and fall to the ground, it’s time to start thinking about “buttoning up” your home for winter to keep you and your family healthy and comfortable, your belongings safe and high energy costs at bay.

Heating accounts for 34 percent of all annual utility usage, according the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One of the most cost-effective ways to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of your home is to seal and insulate the “envelope” – outer walls, windows, doors and roof. By doing so, ENERGY STAR estimates that a homeowner can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs, the equivalent to lowering up to 10 percent of total energy costs for the year.

Here are a few ways to keep you and your family healthy, your belongings safe and help lower your heating bill:

Preventing the draft
Old, drafty windows and doors can account for home energy loss of up to 30 percent, according to the EPA, which means paying more in the winter to heat your home. By replacing non-performing windows and doors, homeowners can drastically reduce heating costs. A typical home that replaces its single-paned, clear glass windows with energy-efficient windows can realize up to $501 in annual savings, according to the EPA.

“Windows are a great source of natural light, and a great way to admire the picturesque snow-covered trees and lawns while avoiding the brisk winter air; however, they can also be the site of the biggest energy efficiency offender,” says David Harrison, chief marketing officer of Champion Windows, one of the nation’s leading home improvement companies. “By installing our Comfort 365 Windows, homeowners can watch their heating bills drop and rid their homes of cold drafts.”

Additionally, old or improperly installed siding can also be the cause of drafts. However, by installing new, energy-efficient vinyl siding and underlayment, homeowners can increase a homes’ R-Value, a measure of insulation’s ability to resist heat traveling through it.

“Installing energy-efficient siding can help insulate your home against the cold, reduce the amount of air flow into your house, and make it easier to keep warm air in the winter,” says Harrison.

However, even the best windows, doors and siding can be drafty, if they are poorly installed. So it’s important to make sure your home improvement is completed by a quality contractor who has a long history of being in the business so you can be sure they will be around if you have any issues down the road.

Prevent moisture
Water leakage from snow, ice and rain can cause damage to the exterior and interior of your home. This can result in costly damage to framing, structure and insulation, more importantly it can cause issues – like mold – that can be harmful to the health of your family.

The roof is often the site of leaks in homes; however, by installing a new roof and taking the proper precautions, leaks won’t be a problem, especially with Champion’s Comfort 365 Roof System, which uses a flexible, self-healing barrier in all leak vulnerable areas and is guaranteed with a limited lifetime warranty.

“Your home will settle and shift over time and extreme weather can be an issue,” says Harrison. “It is important to have barriers to provide protection against leaks caused by roof setting and extreme weather. Unlike many companies who only use this on the north side of a home or treat it as an upgrade, Champion uses a flexible, self-healing barrier anywhere your home’s roof joins and at all attachment points.”

Other ways to improve the seal of your home to prevent moisture damage, drafts and improve energy efficiency include:

  • Sealing leaks
  • Adding insulation
  • Sealing ducts

“Now is the perfect time to make these improvements,” says Harrison. “Since it’s the offseason, homeowners can find great deals and attractive financing to ‘button up’ your home for winter.”

Source: www.ChampionFactoryDirect.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

Get Your Furnace Winter Ready

English: Condensing furnace diagram

While you may not give thought to your home-heating devices until the first frost pulls ill, it’s actually best to inspect them before they are needed, according to Jimmie Cho, vice president of services for SoCalGas.

“Now is the time to perform maintenance on your home-heating appliances to check that they can be operated safely and efficiently,” says Jimmie Cho.

Why should you check your furnace now? Failure to perform annual maintenance on gas appliances may result in exposure to carbon monoxide, which can cause nausea, drowsiness, flu-like symptoms, and even death.

Since home heating typically accounts for more than half of the monthly winter gas bill, the best way to keep bills lower is to get gas appliances serviced, Cho says.

Cho offers these tips for a safe, warm, and energy-efficient winter:

  • Have natural gas furnaces checked at least once a year by a licensed heating contractor.
  • Vacuum and clean regularly in and around the furnace, particularly around the burner compartment to prevent a build-up of dust and lint.
  • Never store items in, on or around the appliance that can obstruct airflow.
  • Most forced-air units have a filter that cleans the air before heating and circulating it throughout the home. Check furnace filters every month during the heating season and clean or replace the filter when necessary.
  • When installing a new or cleaned furnace filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly; never operate the furnace without the front-panel door properly in place because doing so may create the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Check the appearance of the flame. If the flame is yellow, large and unsteady, the furnace needs to be inspected immediately by a licensed heating contractor or SoCalGas to have the condition corrected.
  • Using an unvented gas heater in your home is dangerous and a violation of the California Health and Safety Code.
  • Never use your oven, range or outdoor barbecue to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose.

Source: http://www.socalgas.com

Enhanced by Zemanta