Winter Tips Maintenance

Vacation Checklist: Protect your home while you're on vacation.
Before you leave, it's always a great idea to:
  • Lock all windows and doors
  • Have newspaper and mail stopped or regularly picked up by a trusted neighbor
  • Ask a trusted neighbor to check on your home
  • Make sure a neighbor knows where the water main shut-off is located in the event of a broken pipe
  • Set timers on interior lights, to deter burglars
  • Unplug TV, computer and appliances susceptible to lightning and power surges
  • Advise your alarm company and local police if you will be gone for an extended vacation
  • Take jewelry and valuable papers to a safe deposit box
  • Arrange for care of pets
  • Turn off water valves to your washing machine, icemaker and dishwasher
And when cold weather threatens, make sure to:
  • Set the heat in your home to no lower than 55 degrees
  • Allow water to drip from a faucet near an outside wall
  • Keep downspouts and gutters clean to prevent ice dams on your roof
  • Disconnect all garden hoses
  • Locate and insulate pipes most susceptible to freezing. Typically, those near outer walls, in crawl spaces, and in the attic are most vulnerable.
  • Open cabinet doors to allow heat to reach uninsulated pipes under sinks and where appliances are near exterior walls
  • Shut off and drain the water system in your home (except indoor sprinkler systems) before an extended vacation
Remove the screens from the storm window frames and install storm windows:
Storm windows help reduce the cost to heat your home and help prevent windowsills from rotting.

Inspecting gutters and downspouts
For debris and fallen leaves can reduce the chances of an ice dam forming. One good step is to spray water down the downspouts to wash away leaves and other debris. A good tip: Place gutter screens over gutters. Extreme caution should be exercised when working on or around the roof. Consider hiring a professional.

Insulate pipes in your home's crawl spaces and attic.
These exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing. Remember: the more insulation you use, the better protected your pipes will be.

Store firewood at least 30 feet away from your home
to reduce a home's fire load and the chance of attracting termites.

Familiarize responsible family members with the main gas valve and other appliance valves.
Responsible family members should be familiar with the location and operation of valves. If you are unsure of the location and operation of these valves, contact a qualified plumber.

Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct, damper and space under the dryer.
Poor maintenance allows lint to build up in the exhaust duct and may cause a fire.

Make sure all electrical holiday decorations have tight connections.
If possible, use 3-prong plugs and cords. The use of 2-prong adapters, which permit 3-prong plugs to be used in 2-prong outlets, doesn't always provide grounding to protect against shock. Unplug decorations when not in use.
Use of extension cords should be temporary. To help reduce the chances of overheating, electric cords, including extension cords, should never be bundled together or run under rugs and carpet.

Check the attic for adequate ventilation.
Check the exterior wall to be sure the ceiling insulation is not blocking the outside air from the soffit vents from getting into the attic. Make sure the attic has plenty of vents. Caution should be taken in all attic spaces that are unfinished.

Clean the kitchen exhaust hood and air filter.
Keeping this clean of cooking grease will help keep a stovetop fire from spreading.

Check the water hoses on the clothes washer, refrigerator icemaker, and dishwasher for cracks and bubbles.
Replace hoses that show signs of leaking.

Test all ground-fault-circuit-interrupter (GFCI ) type outlets.
These need to be tripped and reset once a month. If they do not trip or reset, have the outlet changed by a qualified electrician. These types of outlets are required around wet areas like bathrooms and kitchens to offer protection against shock.

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