It is that time of the year again here in New England. Winter storm season. This 2018-2019 season is predicted to be much colder due to a weakened La Nina. NOAAs’ prediction is that the northern states will see a lot more snow than last year. Which was one of the warmest winters in 121 years. This year is predicted to be riddled with frequent storms and cold temperatures.
These colder temperatures and increased chance or more storms mean there could be more storm damage. This damage could be from the cold getting into your homes and freezing your pipes to heavy snow collapsing roofs. Now is the time to prepare and take steps to reduce the chances of damage to your home. Freezing pipe, ice dams and fires are the most common forms of damage during the winter season. Here are some key tips for helping to prevent major problems.
Insulate pipes.. ( this step is essential)
We have said it before and we will say it again get some cheap foam from a home improvement store that rated for the type of water pipes you have. Put them on as many as you can find. Make sure you leave room when you get close to the heating units so that there is no risk of fire. Ok so this is something we do not normally have to worry about but the pipes in homes with no heat are looking at a unique situation. Get the pipes inside your home under your cabinets going up through your walls and into any heating units you have insulated. This is not a normal step but being with out heat one does not all of a sudden want to deal with a burst pipe and water damage.
Open Cabinet doors
When the really deep cold sets in make sure you open cabinet doors. Ensuring under sinks, in bathrooms, cabinets and hutches that have piping running from one level to another are all open will help keep your pipes more warm
Run the water
Yes run the water. A slow moving water drip will help prevent freezing because moving water takes more time to freeze. This is not a full on high running water it is a slow stead stream. Know the difference. Remember that it is one and if you can collect the water and place in front of your heat source so that you can introduce moisture back into your home and conserve a little water in the process.
Search for Gaps
Look at pipes, vents especially dryer vents and electrical outlets that come in from the outside. If there are drafts fill the edges with caulking or spray foam. This will help keep the cold out.
While they are not ideal as many fires are caused by them it is essential for those looking towards the winter months with out heat. Opening your cabinet doors will not do too much good if you do not have heat but if you place a space heater in the middle of the room and point it towards the open cabinet it will help keep the pipes more warm.
Properly setting your thermostat
Many of you looking to escape the dull gray skies will go on vacation. In an effort to save money so many turn their heat way down or off. ***DO NOT DO THIS*** Keep your thermostat at a minimum of 55 degrees we like 60 or better, and open any and all cabinet doors. The last thing you want at the end of your vacation is to come home to a soaking wet house that has been running for days.
Knowing your home:
Where is your water shut of valve. Sure most of us know how to turn off the water if something happens to the toilet or the washing machine it is the valve right next to it. What about a pipe on the 2nd floor to mitigate your damages. Do you know where the main shut off valve is for the house? How about how to turn off your water heater? Learn where these things are and show everyone who is old enough how to do it as well. The sooner the water is shut off the less damage it can cause.
Ok so your home should be ok now we did not forget about your garden. We love the pops of color in the spring. The Home grown vegetables from the summer and the atmosphere of the leaves in the fall create a home outside for you and your family. It is important to take care of it during the winter months. Sure it will get covered in snow and there is not much you can do but before that happens here are few tips.
Before the first Frost:
Any attempt to protect plants should be done before the first frost. You can usually find some information online about your area and when that typically happens.
You can do a variety of things with the plants and their placement to aid in the winterization. Choosing sheltered spots will protect from wind damage and the sudden onset of cold weather. Know the North, South facing spots as well as how much sun these spots get this will aid in placement.
I know mulching in the winter? It acts as a great insulator and holds a lot of soil from being washed away as the rain and snow move and.
Planters and containers
Create a portable garden that you can place anywhere based on the season.
Special wrapping & Structures
Insulating wrapping can be obtained to protect susceptible plants to keep the more warm during the freezing temperatures of the winter. Structures can also be built to protect from the heavy weight of the snow and any that could fall off of a roof onto plants near the house. “A” Frames are the easiest and most effective. Creating a windbreak or barrier can aid many plants as well. This can be achieved from other plants such as dense bushes or hedges. You can make one with some netting and posts staked into the ground
It is important that you do not have pooling water in any areas of your yard. Extra wet soil just like extra dry soil will prevent the roots from holding firm and could have trees uproot. Ensure that your lawn is level and pooling does not occur.
Keeping these things in mind will help you have a worry free winter. Filled with family, friends, and fun. When spring comes you will ready to go with a lot less fuss. Have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy the winter.