Benjamin Franklin said in 1726 that "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." He was advising Philadelphians dealing with life-threatening fires at the time, but the adage is also fitting for preparing your home for winter.
There are four home insurance claims most often filed during the winter months.
Water damage from burst pipes.
Almost all home insurance policies will cover damages resulting from burst pipes. The dwelling coverage should cover home repair costs, while the personal property coverage pays for damaged belongings. Now is an excellent time to review your deductibles and policy limits to ensure your coverage is up to date.
Damage from ice dams on the roof.
Snow melting and refreezing near the gutters or roof edge can lead to costly issues. Water seepage can cause mold and leakage, and large icicles can rip off gutters.
Damage from falling tree limbs.
Ice weighs down the branches and may fall on homes, cars, fences, or even people. Your policy's dwelling coverage should cover repairs to the house, while structures coverage pays for damaged fences or sheds.
Winter storms can cause homeowners to make risky decisions that lead to preventable house fires.
- If the lights go out, turn off all appliances and use flashlights instead of candles.
- Don't heat your home with the stove.
- Unplug your space heaters when you sleep and keep a 3-foot of clear space around them.
Usually, your home policy covers all of this, but you should look at precisely what is and is not covered to ensure you have the coverage you need for all eventualities.
And then add the following steps to your winter preparations this month. It's less painful to take time out to prevent disaster than live through it. Besides, the paperwork after a disaster is horrendous. Nobody enjoys that!
November Home Projects
1. Finish winterizing your home.
You may have begun winterizing a month or so before, but now is the time to scratch the last tasks off your list to get ready for winter's arrival. Here's a checklist to double-check and complete the steps you've missed.
- Clean your gutters: prevent ice dams. This is a good time to install gutter guards and check the insulation in your attic.
- Insulate pipes that are prone to freezing.
- Seal gaps around windows, doors, air conditioners, and other items, such as mail slots. Install weatherstripping for more protection against heat loss.
- Install an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system to prevent bursting in case your pipes freeze.
- Make sure your thermostat is up to date. An energy-efficient or programmable thermostat will help you economize high energy bills and keep your house cozy.
- Service your furnace, boiler, and chimney to clear away buildup and keep them running at top efficiency.
- Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Unhook the outdoor water hose and store it up for the winter. Turn off the water to the outdoor spigots.
- Check the trees around your house and trim any dying branches before the snow and wind cause them to fall onto your home or even people.
- Give your yard a good cleanup before the snows settle in.
2. Get your winter tools ready.
Don't wait until the last minute to get what you need. A good early snowfall could keep you homebound for a few days. You could lose snow and ice removal time or have to improvise, making the job twice as difficult. Also, with the shortages we've gone through in the last few years, people tend to rush to buy what they need. Don't settle for equipment and tools that aren't built for winter maintenance because you waited too long.
Here is some of the equipment you'll want to have on hand in your home, on the porch, and in the garage.
- Buy deicing salt to sprinkle on steps, sidewalks, and driveways. If you have pets, look for pet-friendly brands. Store it where you can easily get to it as needed with the proper protective gear.
- Consider getting a salt spreader. It helps you sprinkle a consistent amount and prevents clumping.
- Buy the shovels you need. Consider grabbing one of the ergonomic shovels on the market today to help save you some back strain. Some people like shovels with a 360-rotating handle to avoid body fatigue.
- Add a sidewalk scraper to your winter tool arsenal for when the ice builds up on your walkways.
- Buy a roof rake to help you prevent ice dams on your home.
- Gather the ice scrapers for your car so you don't have to hunt forever for them like you did the first time you needed them last winter.
- Consider raging war against the snow with a snow blower. It's also a good investment if you want to do something nice for an elderly neighbor and take care of them too.
- Keep a tire grip mat handy in the trunk. It's a traction pad you slip under your tires if you get stuck in the snow.
3. Prepare the garage.
Did your garage get cluttered over the summer, and the car barely fits inside anymore? Now is a good time to organize it, get rid of what you don't need, and make room for the vehicle.
- Winterize your garage like you do your home by sealing cracks and small openings and checking the doors and windows.
- Winterize your outdoor equipment and store them out of the way.
- Protect your garage floor from road salt damage by applying a sealant.
- Consider insulating your attached garage walls and windows to keep cold air from entering your home.
- Create a space in attached garages for wet shoes and clothing to keep the winter mess out of your home.
- Turn your garage into a winter retreat by getting a space heater. By safely using a good quality space heater, you can turn your garage into a workshop or gym during the cold months.
- Make sure your garage door and opener are working properly.
4. Deep clean the kitchen.
Winter means family nights indoors and more family dinners. Get ready for home-cooked meals and entertaining guests with an intense kitchen clean-up. We suggest you choose a warm fall day for this task so you can have the windows open. Cleaners can be overpowering. If you can't open it up, have a fan running to circulate the air.
Start this chore off right by doing a quick clean-up. Get all the dirty dishes washed and everything put in its place. Then you're ready to get started.
Walls and ceilings.
Do a thorough dusting and spot-wash the walls as needed. Clean all ceiling fans and light fixtures.
Drapes, curtains, and blinds.
These items often get missed and go for years without a good cleaning. Get in the habit now of cleaning these in November to help make your room brighter and air quality better.
Stove, oven, and refrigerator.
Take an oven cleaner to the oven and a good cleanser to the refrigerator. Empty out the fridge completely and give the appliance, shelves, and drawers a thorough scrub down.
Sweep and mop underneath your refrigerator and sort through the items. While it's unplugged, take the vacuum to the coils.
Deep clean your stove according to the manufacturer's instructions. Don't forget to include the range hood in this phase.
Deep clean all the appliances after you've unplugged them. If you have stuck on spills in the microwave, bring a cup full of water to boiling in the microwave and let the steam loosen the gunk. If your microwave has a smell, boil some lemon juice in the microwave to freshen it up.
Kitchen cabinets and drawers.
Replace lining materials, get rid of anything that's not being used, and clean by wiping everything down. Now is a good time to reorganize and install any lazy susans, shelves, and dividers.
Countertops and Sink
Wash countertops, sinks, and backsplashes. Pour baking soda with warm water or a lemon peel down the disposal. Sharpen the disposal's blades with ice cubes.
Give your floors a good sweep and mop, including the baseboards. Use many of the innovative kitchen tools on the market for floor cleaning or get on your hands and knees to use a rag or towel.
With a little preparation, you can enjoy your home throughout the winter season and make wonderful memories for your family and friends.
Winter home repairs, renovations, and garage workshops bring floor hazards. Wear only the best in trendy-looking safety footwear designed for ultimate protection.