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Homeowner tips for the upcoming winter weather

January 06, 2017

Home wrapped in a scarf

Homeowners in most of our divisions are preparing for the first winter storm of the season and we have some tips to help protect your home and your investment. Winter Storm Helena is poised to bring cold and snow to the entire Southeast region. Our Raleigh and Richmond divisions may see a foot of snow while the Triad, Greenville and our headquarters of Charlotte are forecasted to get up to 5 inches of snow.

As we all face the reality that we are now officially in winter, we have tips to help you safeguard your home from Helena and the entire winter season. Most of the tasks are simple and can be done yourself, but a few do require professional assistance. Investing time and energy now can help reduce your energy bills and save from maintenance related headaches in the future!

 

To prepare for freezing weather, complete the tasks below:

Protect your pipes! Let your faucet trickle at a slow drip and keep kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open during freezing temps to allow warmer air to circulate. (Move any harmful cleaners or chemicals out of the reach of children first.)

Don’t forget the outside faucets! Purchase a hose bib to protect exterior faucets – this helps protect the outside and inside of your home. Disconnect and drain your garden hose. Turn off and remove water timers and make sure there is no water in your sprinkler system.

Bundle up your water heater! Wrap your pipes and water heater in specially designed plumbing insulation to help prevent freezing (and reduce energy costs).

Safety first! Keep space heaters on level, hard surface at least 3 feet from anything flammable and turn off space heaters before leaving or going to bed. Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.

Keep it up! Keep thermostats set at a minimum of 60 degrees when temps outside hit freezing.

 

In addition to tips for extreme weather, there are additional homeowner maintenance items that can help your household stay warm this winter.

Call a chimney sweep! Have a professional chimney sweep check your fireplace and ventilation system before you cozy up by the fire! While you’re at it, make sure to have a professional examine any heating appliances in your home that will burn gas, oil, wood, or coal during the season. Preventing chimney fires and carbon monoxide leaks will allow you to rest easy this winter!

Turn off water timers! Water timers may be necessary during our scorching summer months here in the South, but not in the winter. Turn them off or remove them completely to avoid damage to the timer.

Feed your lawn! Instead of using water timers in the winter, allow the remaining leaves of fall to nourish your lawn! Fall leaves are considered gardener’s gold because of the nutrients they provide. Before the leaves form a thick blanket over your lawn, mow and shred the leaves leaving them to break down naturally. Chopped leaves deposited right on the lawn provide nutrients to the grass and improve the soil preparing your lawn for the upcoming spring.

Tune up your heating system! Call a professional at the beginning of winter to check that your furnace or heat pump is functioning properly and can be counted on during cold spells.  A professional contractor will also check for deadly carbon monoxide leaks which are more prevalent during cool winter months. These yearly tune ups are relatively inexpensive.

Batten down! Keep garage doors and basement doors closed. Lock your windows and make sure they are sealed tight. Close blinds and curtains to help conserve heat. Check weather stripping and shut your crawl space vents. Exterior caulking is necessary is keep the cooler temperatures trapped outside. For exterior caulking, we recommend you use a silicone based formula as it is durable and impervious to the elements. Exterior caulking can also help protect against unwanted moisture build-up in your home leading to mold and mildew issues. Interior caulking on faucets, vents, pipes, and electrical outlets can help avoid sources of heat loss.

Clean the gutters! Twigs, leaves, and branches sitting in the gutters of your home lead to poor water circulation and can cause roof leaks and water damage and can be especially dangerous when ice begins to form. To protect from build-up, clear and clean your gutters during the early stages of winter. While you are up there, check for missing or damaged gutters, too.

Reverse your fans! If your ceiling fan has a reverse function, turn your fan’s blades in a clockwise direction! The clockwise direction acts as a partner to your heating system by pushing the warm air down. Heat rises so the reverse motion of the ceiling fan helps keep the heat where it is needed most.

 

Please be safe as Winter Storm Helena hits the region with cold temperatures and winter weather. Layer up, watch for ice and bring your pets inside! And remember, only three months until Spring (or less)!