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Basic Winter Home Inspection Tips

Happy new year and happy winter. Mid January is good time to perform a basic home inspection. This will help avoid larger problems later, as the cold months continue.

For example, did you know that adding insulation to your attic helps prevent ice dams?

Here’s how an ice dam forms: When too much heat escapes into your attic, it warms and melts the snow and ice on the roof. An ice dam is created when that melted snow refreezes. Ice dams can cause damage because the melted water seeps in behind shingles.

Fixing an ice dam can be dangerous and should be done correctly. If you have large ice dam and are unsure how to go about it, call a professional for help.

Here are some other tips and areas to consider when checking your home this month…

[1] A tune-up for your heating system(s). Just like a car, your heating system can get sluggish from year after year of use, without a tune-up. A heating system check is something you can perform but a service professional is usually the best route. This will save your system from a larger problem later. The cost varies but a tune-up is more affordable than fixing a larger issue.

[2] Clean or replace the furnace filter on forced hot air systems.

[3] Have your chimney checked and cleaned. Not only is this helpful for efficient heating but this could save your home from a chimney fire.

[4] Keep an eye on your oil levels throughout the winter months. Extremely cold weather can effect joints and tank areas that do not see regular oil flow.

[5] When leaving the house, set your thermostat to no lower than 55 degrees. Water-pipes within walls that get too cold can cause unwanted freezing. Also, open doors to unoccupied rooms so the air-flow is even throughout the house.

[6] Add weather stopping and new calk around doors and windows. This will help prevent cold drafts.

[7] If possible, remove your window screens with storm windows.

[8] Store fuel for snow-blowers and generators away from heat or flame-producing devices and do not store fuel in your basement. Gasoline fumes are extremely flammable and can be ignited by appliance pilots from water heaters and other appliances.

[9] Clear leaves, sticks and other debris from your gutters to make sure melting snow can drain adequately. Keep downspouts pointed away from your foundation. Here’s why: Frozen water many times is the reason why something around your home will break or crack. This is because water contracts and expands during the freeze/thaw process. Frozen water can split metal pipes, gutters, roof shingles and even foundation blocks.