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Harsch Real Estate|Preparing Your Home For Winter- An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure

Get ready for winter. For owners of Berkshire homes that will be vacant over the coming winter months, it is strongly advised that an individual or service company be hired to routinely check on the home or condo to insure everything remains in working order. Another option is to install a temperature sensor set to a minimum below which would trigger a phone call for immediate attention to investigate the cause before more serious problems could occur. A monitored alarm system would be even better which would be triggered for entry, fire or water. Besides a monitoring system we advise that a hot water baseboard or steam heating system be filled with anti-freeze to prevent a total freeze up of the heating system which then leads to burst pipes and far more damage. Domestic water fixtures and pipes would best be emptied and treated with antifreeze as well and the main shutoff to the house be turned off as an added precaution. One sensible step to take at any time of year is to always shut off the supply to the washing machine when not in use and to only use stainless steel hoses. The highest number of homeowner insurance claims is said to come from burst washing machine hoses. For those who stay and enjoy our coming winter months or for those who leave for warmer climates, here are additional routine maintenance steps that should be undertaken at this time of year: Have your heating system cleaned and serviced. If it’s over 25 years old, asking your service company to do a carbon monoxide test on the heat exchanger would be a good idea. As a furnace ages, pin holes tend to develop that can leak exhaust fumes into the home. Shut off your outside faucets at their inside valves. Even freeze resistant faucets can fail in extreme cold, especially if your basement is not heated. Gutter cleaning should be done once the autumn leaves have fallen. Clogged gutters do not drain well, particularly during the predictable January thaw. Ice back-ups can be prevented by having an electrician install heat wires on the edge of the roof and in the gutters and downspouts. If you have a wood stove or fireplace, be sure to have the chimney cleaned and the stove vacuumed. Creosote that accumulates on the interior surfaces presents a fire risk. Confirm with your fuel provider that your home is on automatic delivery for heating fuel. Keep the driveway and entrance cleared during the winter for ease of access if that becomes necessary. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”