It’s Monday morning and the snow is falling. The news says that this week the temperatures will fall to below zero. I know some of the western burbs already got hit with some really cold weather. If you haven’t done so already, please get your house ready and call on family and friends to make sure they are ready as well. Here is a list of the top things to do asap.
- Protect water pipes
- Small drafts on water lines can cause them to freeze. If any of your water lines run through exterior walls, or are close to exterior walls, don’t be afraid to leave the water running. It doesn’t need to be a full flow. A steady drip will do fine. Moving water is less likely to freeze.
- Make sure all exterior hose bibs are disconnected and the valves turned off on the inside of the house.
- Know where your water shut-off valve(s) is/are.
- Check your furnace.
- Make sure the filter is clean. Put a new one in if it is at all dirty.
- Test the furnace by raising the thermostat 5 degrees and seeing if the furnace can reach that temperature without shutting down. If it turns off before the desired temperature is reached, contact an HVAC professional ASAP.
- Watch for ice dams.
- Ice dams happen when snow on the roof melts from heat loss from the house. The snow turns to water and runs down the roof. When the water gets to the overhangs, there is no more heat loss from the house and the water freezes and creates a dam. The more melting snow that flows to the overhang, equals bigger dams. Large icicles are are a big indicator that ice damming is happening.
- With the recent snow, and the deep freeze coming over the next few days, homes with less than great insulation, ventilation, and sealed by-passes to the attic will be prone to ice dams.
- If your home is prone to icicles, consider hiring a professional to get the snow off of the roof. The less amount of snow on the roof, equals the less amount of snow melting and causing the ice dams.
- Caulk and seal windows and any areas where drafts can occur.
- It’s that air movement that allows the cold to enter the homes. Options such as window film, weather tape, and sealant go a long way to stop those drafts.
- Remember, it is not just for our comfort. It is to protects our water pipes and the rest of our properties.
- Check Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Smoke Alarms
- Since the houses are going to be closed up, we want to make sure our families are safe and those watchdogs should be working.
- Replace any that are older than 10 years old.
- If you haven’t put a new battery in, DO IT!
- They should be within 15 feet of all bedrooms and at least one on each level. (This is the minimum. It is preferred to have one in every bedroom and one on each level in common areas.)
- Stock up NOW
- If you can avoid leaving your homes, stay home.
- Make sure you have plenty of food and water
- Fuel for snowblowers
- Salt for the walkways and stairs
- If you don’t already have a charged fire extinguisher in your home, please get one.
- A back-up heat source is not a bad idea either.
- Check on your family and friends.
- For those of you on facebook, Instagram, and other social media, keep posting. It tells family and friends you are ok.
- Please check on your neighbors.
- If you lose heat and you have to leave your home, shut off your water at the main shut-off.
Please feel free to ask questions, post pictures, or offer any suggestions that help yourself and other.
Stay safe and stay warm.
Charles is a home inspector and a home inspector trainer. He started as a professional home inspector in 1993. He works for Chicagoland Home Inspectors, Inc. and Bellman Group, Inc. He has earned the title of Certified Master Inspector (CMI) from the Master Inspector Certification Board. He earned the title Certified Property Inspector (CPI) from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. He earned the title ASHI Certified Inspector (ACI) from the American Society of Home Inspectors. He served as a Director and Officer of the American Society of Home Inspectors. He hs a tremendous passion about the home inspection profession and prides himself on helping his clients with the biggest purchase of their lives.