Get Your Home Ready for Winter

By Insurance.com Posted : 11/16/2006

Winter can vary from place to place depending on where you live. However, the one thing that does not change is the beating a house can endure during the winter months. That is why Insurance.com has provided some helpful winterizing tips to help keep your home safe and secure during the winter season.

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Give your Furnace a Check-up
During the winter your heater is the last thing you want to break down. That is why it is important to schedule a yearly maintenance check-up with a certified Heating and Cooling professional to make sure everything is functioning properly.

Prevent Freezing Pipes
Many times you will hear home owners complain that their pipes froze and burst while they were away on vacation or on a business trip. To prevent this from happening while you are away, turn off all running water to the outside and all non-essential appliances. This will prevent water from freezing in the pipes and help keep your house dry.

In addition to turning off unnecessary water sources, you should also wrap your pipes with heating tape and insulate unfinished rooms that have exposed pipes.

Keep Your Fireplace and Chimney Safe
Who doesn't love to curl up next to a roaring fire on a cold day? But no one loves an unsafe fireplace or chimney! That is why it is important to have both your fireplace and chimney serviced once a year. During this time, it is also a good idea to install carbon monoxide detectors around the house and replace the batteries in your smoke detectors.

Trim Back Bushes and Cut Down Tree Branches
Ice and snow can collect on tree branches and bushes, weighing them down and causing them to become weak and break off - potentially hitting your home, your car or even worse, your neighbor's home or car. To help prevent this from happening, trim back your bushes and cut down dead or hanging tree branches.

Check the Condition of Your Driveway and Sidewalk
Over time your driveway and sidewalk's foundation can crack or shift. That is why fall is the perfect time to check the condition of both. While you may not be able to fix the problem now, you will be able to note the location of the problem and take care of it in the spring, before it becomes worse.

Add Warmth to Your Home with Extra Insulation
Check the insulation in your basement, attic and crawl space. If these areas are lacking adequate insulation, you will want to add more, especially in your attic where ice and snow can collect on the rooftop.

Keep Your Stairs, Handrails and Banisters Secure
Depending on how your home is set up, your mail carrier may have to walk up to your house to deliver the mail. If this is the case, you will want to make sure that your stairs are stable and that your handrails are securely attached. This will help keep your mail carrier and anyone else walking up to your house safe and secure, while helping you to avoid a potential safety problem.

Set Your Thermostat at a Safe Temperature
Your thermostat should be set at least 65 degrees. Going any lower than that could cause your pipes to freeze and burst. To help you stay at the 65 degree safe zone, consider purchasing a programmable thermostat. This will help you keep your home's temperature stable 24/7.

Clean Out the Gutters
Because snow and ice collect in your gutters, you will want to clean out any debris sitting inside the gutters while the weather is still good. This will help ice and snow to move freely and prevent your gutters from leaking. While you are working on the gutters, you will also want to make sure that your downspouts and splash blocks are clear and pointed away from the house.

Clear Objects Away From Your Heat Vents
You may not even realize it, but items can easily be pushed in front of your vents - obstructing the flow of air. So before you turn on your heater this winter, take a look around and make sure nothing is in front of the vents.

Check your Home Owner's Insurance
Many times home owners forget what is and is not covered under their home owner insurance policy. It is a good idea each fall to review your policy and see if you need to change, delete or add something on. If you are interested in changing your home owner's policy, log on to Insurance.com's Home Insurance Center. It is designed to help new or current home owners find the best home owners insurance rate available by evaluating multiple rates from best-in-class insurance providers.

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