5 Things Homeowners Need to Do to Prepare for Cold Weather
If you are new to homeownership, you may not realize that the arrival of cold weather means taking on a short to-do list of maintenance items if you wish to be well-prepared. In New England, the temperature can hover well below freezing for a sizable portion of winter, and preparation is key. Here are the top five things a homeowner should remember to do to help weather those cold snaps:
- Prepare your mower for cold weather and lack of use.
Replace the oil, spark plugs, and air filters in your lawn mower, giving extra care to grimy recesses, and then store out of the elements for the winter. Remove the battery and store it in a place that stays above freezing and is dry. These steps ensure that the battery will be protected from the cold and your mower will rev up when the grass and warmer weather returns.
- Shut down water access to garden hoses.
Water expands as it freezes, and the incredible pressure of this expansion can be too much for whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. Your garden hose spigot is exposed to the freezing temperatures of winter, so it is important to turn off all water to outside faucets and then drain the pipe. It’s easy: the turn off valve is usually located on the pipe in your basement, near where it feeds the garden hose spigot. Turn it to off, then go outside and turn the faucet on until all the water drains out. Bring in the hose and store until spring.
- Have your furnace cleaned and checked for maintenance issues.
Your furnace should have an annual checkup, which is typically done by your heating fuel company. They will clean it, replace any worn parts and change the filter. The last thing you want is for your furnace to break down during a cold winter’s night!
- Fill up on heating fuel.
As a new homeowner you may not have had the tasks of ordering heating fuel, monitoring your usage, and ordering refills. Forget to order fuel, and you may find yourself in a freezing house with no warning.
It is best to start the cold weather season with a full tank. You’ll have a few weeks (this varies depending on how warm you keep the house and how energy efficient the home is) before you need to schedule a refill. Most fuel companies offer automatic scheduled refills, where they come on a regular basis (more often if it has been excessively cold) and ensure that you never run out. If you don’t have automatic refills, you must check the gauge on your fuel tank and order more before it gets too low.
- Prepare for power outages.
Electricity, gas and water can be cut off for a long period of time. Install a generator for emergency electricity. This can be helpful year-round when you lose power, and it can really make a difference on those freezing winter days as you wait for services to be restored.
Also, create a supply kit that contains items to help you manage during outages, like bottled water, snack foods that will give you energy, batteries, flashlights, matches and candles. Don’t forget gasoline for the generator!
Owning a home comes with a set of cold weather responsibilities, including some you may not have thought about. It is wise to be prepared for everything that you and your home requires to stay safe and warm.
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