Tips to Protect Your Home Before the Next Frigid Winter Storm
A few minutes of work on your home now, can save you lots of money (and headache) down the line.
Hopefully you did a bit of work winterizing your home last Fall, but there are still several issues to check now that Winter Storm Grayson is behind us. You may have experienced drafty windows or fireplace problems with the severe cold that descended upon us last week and that’s why we’d like to share a few maintenance items you can work on now—before the next cold snap hits. Trust us… you don’t want to let things go until they lead to bigger problems with a much higher price tag!
Check Windows, Roofs, and Doors
Inspect the outside molding around each of your home’s windows and the seal. If you suspect a leak, you should take a closer look from the inside of your home. One simple method for air leaks is the “wet hand” test. Simply wet your hand and hold it a few inches from the edge around the window. If there’s a leak, you’ll feel air blowing on your hand. Use caulking to repair small leaks and keep windows sealed tight.
If your windows are older, they may be inefficient single-pane windows. Seriously consider upgrading to double- or even triple-pane windows to boost the energy efficiency of your home. Pinehurst Homes can help you with choosing new energy efficient window solutions and with the installation.
You may also want to inspect the kickplate and seal on your external doors. With summer sun and moisture these seals can rot and weaken, leaving gaps, cracks and leaks that will let in cold air. With much older doors, a total replacement may be needed to ensure there are no air leaks. Addressing any issues now will save money down the road on your heating bill as well.
Take a good look at your roof and check any shingles that look loose or raised. If you discover roof leaks and broken shingles, Pinehurst Homes can assess any repairs needed and provide an estimate. Many of these problems get much worse over time. What might be only a $200 repair now, could turn into a $5,000 fix later.
Inspect the Health of Your Basement
Walk the perimeter of your home and look at your foundation. You should also inspect your basement or cellar walls for any mildew, cracks, or areas of concern. Basement leaks and moisture will typically appear as bubbling of paint or grey and darkened areas on the walls. As they progress, the area may turn green or black, and you may see cracks in the foundation (definitely time to call in someone who knows their stuff)!
Check out your sump pump and basement drains as well. It may be a little unpleasant, but give them a whiff. The smell will not be great, but drains shouldn’t have a strong, sour, or dirty odor. Also run some water down your basement drains to see how quickly the water disappears. If the water isn’t dissipating quickly, one torrential rainstorm or several days of steady rain could cause costly basement flooding.
If you suspect foundational issues, don’t panic. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of patching a crack with plaster and adding a coat of anti-microbial/mildew paint. Other times it may have to do with the grade of your landscaping, which may also be as simple as adding dirt to low areas around your house. It’s not always an expensive issue, but you should address it right away, as foundational problems can greatly devalue your home and lead to structural issues inside your home. Again, Pinehurst Homes has been helping customers solve complicated structural and repair issues for many years, so don’t hesitate to call is if you have concerns.
Inspect the Fireplace and Chimney
There’s nothing like the glow of a fire to warm up a winter evening. Before you light up that first log, make sure your fireplace and chimney are clean and critter-free. A professional chimney sweep can clean out soot and other debris that could catch fire. Be sure to keep your home’s warm air from escaping out the chimney when you’re not using it by closing the flue completely closed. You shouldn’t be able to feel any cold air coming down the chimney. You can also install glass fireplace doors or a chimney inflatable that blocks cold air from coming down the chimney and keeps in warm air.
Stock Up on Cold-weather Essentials
When winter storms hit, they often come with power outages. To ensure you and your family are prepared for anything Mother Nature throws at you this winter, you will want to have an emergency kit ready. Following are a few ideas of what you may want to include:
- An alternative heat source such as a generator, wood-burning stove, or fireplace (and fuel to run them or to burn!). Keep in mind you should NEVER use a generator or portable gas cook stove inside the house. These can fill the room with dangerous carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide.
- A working, fully-charged fire extinguisher, candles or flashlights and plenty of batteries.
- Sand, ice melt, and a shovel if where you live is prone to ice and snow (avoid using kitty litter—it doesn’t provide good traction and can make a mess).
- Of course, keep extra non-perishable food items on hand, including bottled water, and be sure that any family member that requires critical medications has enough to last a few days.
- You may also want to keep some non-potable water in buckets for flushing toilets. 😉
- Have some extra cash on hand in case power is out and ATM machines aren’t operating.
- Be sure your vehicles have a full tank of gas. The added weight can also improve traction on wet or snowy roads. Keep in mind, that even four wheel drive cars can slide on ice.
- Last but not least, be sure your mobile phones and electronic devices are charged, and if possible, have a backup battery source you can use to recharge them.
A little bit of preparation and prevention now can help make certain your home is warm and ready before the next round of freezing temperatures or snow arrives.
If you’re looking for a professional builder in the Pinehurst, North Carolina area offering unique home building expertise, extensive remodeling services, decades of experience, and a reputation to back it up, Pinehurst Homes, Inc. is the choice for you. For more information on the services we offer and the dependable and experienced partner companies we work with, call (910) 295-5400 or visit www.pinehursthomesinc.com.
(Sources: Liberty Mutual Insurance; How Stuff Works; NBC News 4; Travelers Insurance; and Living Well – Spending Less.)