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Preparing Your Home For Winter

As winter months set in, we want to start thinking about the ways we can protect our home so we can stay cozy and warm whilst enjoying classic winter activities, such as snuggling up with a hot chocolate on the sofa or prepping for a happy Christmas. Winter can wreak havoc on your home, and one thing that you really don’t want to stress about during the cold months is housekeeping and restoration. So here are a few preventative measures that you can take to offset some of the more common winter problems.

Clear Gutters
It’s an irritating and time-consuming job but it can actually help to prevent a ton of problems that can occur during winter. By making sure both gutters and storm drains are clear from rotting leaves and debris, will help avoid water build-up (which could freeze and damage the gutters), melting snow leaks, cracked gutters and various forms of water damage.

“Clogged gutters allow water to spill over the sides, which can send water flowing down to the basement where it could do serious damage,” Craig Gjelsten, vice president of operations at Rainbow International Restoration explained to Good Housekeeping.

If you struggle to clear your own gutters or simply find it a nuisance there are plenty of contractors that can be hired to do just that. Further, if you fancy an upgrade, replacing your gutters altogether, opting for ones with screens, mesh toppers, hoods or open face versions could stop you from ever having to face the laborious task of clearing your gutters again.

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Pipe Care
Frozen and burst pipes are the dread of homeowners during the winter months. Problems with pipes can lead to thousands of dollars’ worth of flood damage and plumbing replacements, or simply the lack of hot or running water whilst temperatures are low can be frustrating and uncomfortable. One way to look after your pipes is to ensure they are properly insulated, wrap external, basement and crawl space pipes in insulation to help prevent frozen pipes. Also, ensure you regularly run hot water to allow water to flow around them and prevent damage.

For general pipe care, Good Housekeeping, defers to Craig Gjelsten of Rainbow International Restoration, who advises:
‘Use a drain snake instead of unclogging chemicals when a sink starts to back up. Yes, reaching for the bottle of liquid cleaner is much easier (and way less gross) than using a snake, but that can can [sic] corrode pipes.’
‘Never pour grease or oil down the drain. You know how leftover oil congeals and hardens in the pan after you cook? That’s also what happens to it in your pipes.’
‘Set the thermostat to at least 60 degrees and open under-sink cabinet doors on cold nights. That way, warm air can circulate around pipes and help prevent them from freezing.’
‘Test your water pressure. High pressure can cause damage to pipe connections and result in blowouts in appliance supply lines, leading to flooding. You can buy a pressure gauge at your local hardware store for less than $15.’

If you do find any frozen pipes, AXA recommends: ‘Do not attempt to thaw out frozen pipes by turning on your central heating boiler. Once you’ve located any frozen sections, gently heat with a hot water bottle, hairdryer or heated cloth.’ Always though, seek the help of a professional.

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Insulation is an easy and effective way to both keep your home warm during the winter months and keep your energy levels efficient – and will save you money in the long run. Insulation can range from properly insulating the walls, heat sources and roof to ensuring windows are properly sealed, to simply blocking drafts and investing in better curtains. There is a range of improvements you can make to you home to insulate for the winter.

Axa writes: ‘It’s imperative that your loft is properly insulated and ventilated. If it’s too warm during snowfall it can result in the formation of an ice dam. This is when snow melts quicker on the upper, hotter part of the roof and the resulting water runs toward the colder eave and freezes into ice, blocking the guttering. As this ridge of ice accumulates over time it can back up under the roof shingles (where it melts again) causing damage to walls, ceilings, attics, insulation and, in worst case scenarios, living spaces. If you feel your loft is poorly insulated, seek professional help to help prevent too much heat transfer from the living areas of your property.

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