Save a Fireman – Closing Up a Seasonal Home

What does your local fire department have to do with getting ready for fall and winter at the shore?  I was surprised to learn recently, after speaking with an area fire captain, that the thing that often keeps crews the busiest in quiet winter months are flooded homes!  I can only imagine receiving a phone call to let me know that my second floor bath pipes burst and have been spraying water…for the last three weeks!

So save a fireman – if you have a seasonal home, take the time to prep for the coming winter months.  While a house might seem warm and cozy now, remember that one of the island’s biggest winter foes is WIND.  Strong winds force cold air into attics, crawlspaces, and other areas that are normally warmer – then freezing and bursting pipes.

It's a bath tub glacier!

It’s a bath tub glacier!

One Cool Porsche

One Cool Porsche

I found a great Fall/Winter Prep Checklist, via www.bobvilla.com, and have shared it below.  Some of these are DIY tasks, and others can easily be tackled by a local landscaper or handyman.  (Give us a call if you need help finding one!)

Stop Drafts

  • Check all the weatherstripping around windows and doorframes for leaks to prevent heat loss. Replace weatherstripping, if necessary.
  • Swap all screen doors with storm doors/window screens with storm windows.
  • Check crawlspaces and attics for gaps and insulation – wrap any bare pipes.
  • Check for drafts around windows and doors. Caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping.

Lawn, Garden, and Deck

  • Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires to prevent iced-over or wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem.
  • Clean and dry patio furniture. Cover with a heavy tarp or store inside a shed or garage to protect it from the elements.
  • Clean soil from planters. Bring pots made of clay or other fragile materials indoors. Because terra cotta pots can swell and crack, lay them on their sides in a wood carton.
  • Remove any attached hoses and store them away for the winter to prevent cracks, preserve their shapes, and prolong their life. Wrap outside faucets with covers to prevent water damage.
  • Shut off exterior faucets. Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to protect against pipe bursts.
  • Clean leaves, dirt, and pine needles between the boards of wooden decks to thwart mold and mildew growth.

Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning

  • Clean or replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum efficiency and improved indoor air quality.
  • Check that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
  • Remove air conditioners from windows or cover them with insulated liners, to prevent drafts.
  • If you have an older thermostat, replace it with a programmable unit to save on heating costs.
  • Examine exposed ducts in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces, and use a sealant to plug up any leaks.

Gutters, Roof, and Drains

  • Check for missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace, as necessary before you get stuck with a leak.
  • Check for deteriorated flashing at the chimney, walls, and skylights and around vent pipes. Seal joints where water could penetrate, using roofing cement and a caulking gun.
  • Check the gutters and downspouts for proper fastening, and re-secure if loose or sagging. The weight of snow and ice can pull gutters off the house.
  • Clean gutters of any debris. Make sure downspouts extend away from the house by at least 5 feet to prevent flooding of the foundation and water damage from snowmelt.
  • Clean leaves and debris from courtyard and pool storm drains to prevent blockages.
  • Ensure all vents and openings are covered to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from getting inside to nest in a warm place.

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