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Ask McEnearney: How should I prepare my home for winter?

This week’s Q&A column, sponsored and written by McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria, is a bit of a departure from our usual format. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact us at 703-549-9292. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns

Question: How should I prepare my home for winter weather?

Answer: The new year may begin with a bit of warmer weather, but winter will be back. From freezing temperatures to snow and ice, winter weather can be harmful to your home and exceptionally costly. Prepping your home for the winter months seems almost daunting, but it will protect you and your investment.

Heating and Fireplace Safety

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to schedule an inspection of your heating system. The last thing you want is for it to act up during a cold spell, making you wait longer for a technician or costing you more in emergency service fees. The cold winter days will entice some of us to cozy up by the warmth of a fire. Schedule a chimney expert to come out to the house to inspect the chimney and vents. You want to ensure all is working properly and avoid the possibility of carbon monoxide build-up. This applies to gas and oil as well. Be sure to check all of your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers!

Protect and Clear Gutters

Give your home the love it needs as we get ready for the next few months of snow. In the winter, clearing your gutters is important so water can flow freely to help prevent the formation of icicles. In addition, gutter protection systems such as leaf filters can help prevent ice damming and roof damage.

Winterize Your Entry

Prevent the snow from making its way into the house by purchasing a boot tray, so you not only have your shoes by the front door, but you keep snow, ice, salt, and sand from coming into the house. Also, add a small bench to sit on while putting on and taking off your snow gear. And have towels on hand to wipe up water and dirt. In addition to protecting your floors, it will also help keep pets safe from potentially harmful chemicals.

Pipes & Pumps

To avoid a frozen outdoor pipe shut off the valves inside that control your outdoor faucets, then open the spigots to drain any water that may be in the system. With snowy days, the buildup and melting of snow leads to moisture. Test your sump pump by pouring several gallons of water into the sump pit. You will want to make sure the pump turns on, to ensure a dry space.

Invest in Warmth

“Don’t forget to bundle up!” How many times did you hear that as a kid? Well, it’s as true today as it was back then. The cold air and drop in temperatures can be harmful to your health. And who wants to burn up all your sick days during the first month of the new year? The key to surviving the winter season is layer upon layer and invest in waterproof outer layers for those ice storms and snowy days if you need to go outside.

Reverse Heat

Insulating your windows helps the cold from coming in. Even something as simple as well taped plastic wrap can make a big difference in your heating bill. Remember to use your ceiling fan — it’s not just for the warmer months. Once you start running the heat in your home, go ahead and change the direction of ceiling fans to run the blades clockwise. The reverse motion of the blade will push down the heated air from the ceiling.

Prepare for Power Outages

Snow and ice aren’t the only culprits of power outages in the winter — the Mid-Atlantic often sees high winds that cause lots of headaches. In addition to the smoke detector batteries, double check your flashlights to ensure they are working. A good practice is to keep one in your bedroom or by your front door, so you know exactly where it is. Keep some candles and board games on hand to stay entertained with friends and family as you hunker down and wait for power to be restored. Those of you with gas stoves might even be able to make some hot chocolate.

If you do lose power, keep your fridges and freezers closed! While ice packs and coolers will help, dry ice is a great option if you know you’re bound to lose power during a blizzard. If your area is expected to lose power, remember to fill your gas tank!

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. www.McEnearney.com Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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