Checklist to protect home for winter

December 11, 2005|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

This year, as the wintry air starts nipping at your nose, remember that it's also nipping at your house.

Here are some ways to protect your home from winter damage due to chill, snow, ice and wind:

Clean your gutters. Melting snow and ice should be able to flow freely to the ground. If the once-frozen water's path is disrupted - a condition called ice damming - it could seep into the house.

Trim overhanging, damaged or dead tree branches. Accumulation of snow or ice on branches, or even strong winds, can cause weak limbs to break. Ice-covered limbs can be particularly damaging to your home or car - and dangerous to you.

Maintain the temperature. Keep the thermostat at 65 degrees or higher. Although you can save on your energy bill by setting the thermostat a few degrees lower than you normally might, temperatures below 65 degrees can make pipes vulnerable to freezing.

Check the plumbing. Before it gets too cold, inspect pipes for cracks, leaks or other damage. Learn how to shut the water off to minimize the damage in the event of a frozen or burst pipe.

Inspect your home's heat sources - including the furnace, fireplaces, stoves and, if you have them, portable space heaters.

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