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How to Winterize Your Home and Yard

a home after a winter storm

Winter is here, and even in a place with milder temperatures, preparing your home and lawn for whatever Mother Nature throws your way can give you and your family peace of mind. Since it’s hard to tell when a more serious freeze or winter storm will pop up, it’s important to get your home prepared early. No matter what comes your way, there are critical steps you can take to be ready.

Heating System

If your heater smells when you turn it on for the first time of the season, that’s a good reminder of the importance of having your HVAC serviced before temperatures dip. Fall is a good time to contact a licensed professional for a tune-up on your heating system. Just as a service call in the spring gets you ready for the blistering summer, a check before winter helps your entire HVAC system run more efficiently. A unit that is functioning at peak performance can even save you money.

Something else that could help you pay less for heating costs is a programmable thermostat. Using one makes it easy to customize your temperature settings, like lowering it a few degrees while you are at work or sleeping. It is important to set the thermostat above freezing inside even if you aren’t home for long periods of time. You don’t want your interior temperature to dip below 50 degrees in the case of a severe winter storm, as this could cause your pipes to burst.

Cozy Up the Fireplace

Whether you have a fireplace that runs on gas or a traditional wood-burning fireplace, it is important to have a licensed professional give it a thorough once-over. They can check for any necessary repairs or cleaning before chillier weather sets in. In wood-burning fireplaces, you can get a buildup of creosote, which comes from burning wood and can turn your warm and cozy fireplace into a fire hazard. Finally, it’s important to have an expert check the chimney to ensure no animals have made it into their home.

Create a Solid Seal

Cracks in caulk or weatherstripping around doors and windows not only let cool air out in the summer but also create drafts that let in the freezing temperatures. That’s not all that can sneak in through these cracks. Rodents use them as a passage into a warm place to settle down for the winter: your home.

Call a licensed professional to do a thorough check of all your home’s windows and exterior doors. They can suggest and perform any repairs that will help tighten up your home and save money on heating costs.

Ready Your Roof

While you have a pro checking out other areas of your home for winterization, have them check out the roof as well. Any missing or damaged shingles are the perfect spot for snow and ice to settle in. These can cause water damage once the snow melts. A check on any old water spots in the attic or on your ceilings will give you a good idea if something is not right up top. The expert can also check your attic vents for any signs of mold or mildew—usually a sure sign there is a leak somewhere.

You should also have any leaves and other debris that have settled on the shingles swept off, and the gutters should be cleared out. It’s a smart idea to have any trees that have branches hanging near or over the roof trimmed back. This lessens the risk of any of them falling on your roof in a winter storm, which can cause a lot of damage.

a neighborhood after a winter storm

How To Winterize Your Pipes

It’s inconvenient and worrisome when your plumbing freezes up and you lose access to water for a while. More importantly, it is dangerous and destructive to your home when the freeze causes the pipes to burst.

How does the damage happen? As water in the pipes freezes into ice, it expands. Then, somewhere between the frozen part of the pipe and the faucet, it cracks. When the ice melts back into water, it can seep into everything. If the water is still completely turned on, the force of full water pressure pushing through the pipe break can do some serious damage.

In colder climates, exposed pipes are generally well-insulated. But, in warmer states such as Texas, the insulation isn’t always enough for deep freezes. Exterior walls and pipes that are in unheated spaces such as the attic are at a high risk of freezing up. The hose bibs on the outside of your home are also in danger.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help prevent your pipes from freezing. When temperatures are expected to drop below freezing, let your faucets drip and open up your cabinets to allow heat to reach your pipes. Additionally, remove garden hoses and cover the hose bibs.

The most effective way to protect your plumbing is to contact a professional. They can check all your home’s plumbing, inside and out, and get things insulated and protected before the cold comes. There are many things you can do to prevent plumbing issues. An expert can go over the list with you and help you decide which is the best plan for you and your home.

Outdoor Water Spots

You might also have an irrigation system for your landscaping. A professional can test the system for broken sensors and for any leaks or overspray that could cost you money in lost water. These issues can even present a fall risk by icing up the driveway or sidewalk. The expert will suggest any repairs necessary and can perform those fixes with your approval. Additionally, your pro can reset your irrigation timers for winter conditions, as watering your lawn in the winter is still important, but should be addressed differently than in the summer.

If you have a backyard pool to keep you and your family cool in the summer, you will also want to protect it from a potential winter freeze. The first thing to remember is to leave your pump running, even if that sounds counter-intuitive. Running water doesn’t freeze. Your pool should have a guard to ensure it keeps running when the temperatures are inching toward freezing.

Not sure if your pool guard is winter-ready? A licensed professional can test it and can also show you steps to take if you lose power in a winter storm. Quick action in such a case can save you from big—and expensive—problems.

a garden filled with blooming plants

How To Winterize A Garden

When the fall growing season is over, you will want to prep your landscaping for the colder months. Pulling weeds and adding a good amount of mulch will help set you up for spring and give any hardy bulbs you have planted a cozy spot to weather the winter.

Bring any potted plants inside when a freeze is in the forecast, especially those that are more tender such as succulents. You will want to cover plants in the ground. Talk to a lawn care professional to see what plan of action would best fit your landscape. They can even write up an estimate and perform all needed lawn care for you.

Preparing for a cold winter that might not arrive is far better than leaving things to chance. Protect your biggest investment, your home, with professional assessments and maintenance.

ABC Can Help You Winterize Your Home

Making sure that your garden, pipes and home are ready for the winter is a lot of work. When you need a hand, contact the experts at ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our experienced professionals can make sure that your plumbing, lawn, heating system and pool are ready for a winter storm. We can also provide any repairs that are necessary following a storm.

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