It’s December in St. Louis. So far, the weather hasn’t been too bad, but we know the cold and freezing conditions are coming, bringing snow, freezing rain, and frigid weather with it. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, this winter is predicted to be one of the coldest we’ve seen in many years. With a few preventative measures, you can keep your home and family safe and warm until spring.
Preparing for Winter Weather
With the freezing weather approaching, taking some steps to prepare and prevent issues caused by these conditions is in your best interests. We’ve listed a few tips that you can use to increase your chances of getting through the season without damage.
1. HVAC Service
Don’t risk having your furnace fail during a cold snap. Even worse, don’t endanger your loved ones with an unknown carbon monoxide leak. Call a professional heating and cooling specialist to inspect your furnace and heat pump, if applicable. They can check for and repair leaks and inefficiencies in your system.
2. Trim Tree Branches
A heavy snowstorm or freezing rain can settle on tree branches. The extra weight can cause branches to snap off and land on your roof. These frozen limbs are prone to pierce or loosen roof shingles, subjecting them to further damage and leaking. Trim tree branches that are near the house and hanging over the roof.
3. Roof Inspection
You may want to check your roof to see if it needs cleaning, as well. The extra weight caused by leaves, tree branches, and other debris can make the difference when added snowfall comes down. Always beware of hazardous conditions, however. Don’t risk a fall by climbing or walking on a roof–contact a professional to inspect it for you.
4. Outdoor Spigots and Hoses
Disconnect and drain the hoses attached to your outdoor faucets. Water that has remained inside the hoses can freeze and cause water pipes to burst. For extra protection, shut off the water supply to the outdoor faucets from inside the house. You may want to consider installing an insulated cover on the hose bibb, as well.
5. Gutters and Downspouts
It’s recommended to regularly clean gutters throughout the year to enable water to flow properly from the roof through the downspouts and away from the house. It’s especially important to have gutters clear before the snow and ice falls. Leaves and debris can mix with the frozen precipitation and create an ice dam. This extra weight can cause the gutters and downspouts to crack or break. Before the first freeze, remove all debris and rinse away any remains with a garden hose. This allows you to ensure the water is flowing down the spouts and away from the house’s foundation.
6. Chimney and Fireplace
If your home includes a fireplace, have it and your chimney inspected by a CSIA-certified professional. They’ll make sure there aren’t any obstructions or creosote buildup to be a fire hazard. Keep the inside warmer even when the fire’s not blazing by closing the fireplace damper when not in use.
7. Seal Doors and Windows
Check the perimeters of your windows and doors for gaps. Prevent air leakages by caulking or weatherstripping any opening larger than the width of a nickel. You’d be surprised how much you can save on heating bills with this small preventive measure.
8. Reverse Ceiling Fans
Most ceiling fans have two modes for circulating air. When the switch is in the down position, it blows down to cool off the room. Moving it to the up position circulates the warmer air that rises to the ceiling, increasing the room temperature and thus reducing heating costs.
9. Sprinkler System
If you have buried irrigation sprinkler lines, they are likely to freeze and burst if water remains in them. Contact a professional to drain the lines and blow out the pipes to ensure they are clear and dry.
If no one is home at certain times of the day or you are away for a lengthy period, turn the thermostat down. Many people also reduce the temperature at night while they’re kept warm under a thick blanket. By bringing the setting down a few degrees during those periods, you can save on your heating bills and your furnace won’t work so hard.
Stay Safe, Dry, and Warm this Winter
If you take these precautions, you are less likely to experience problems during the cold, harsh St. Louis winter. If, however, you do have a burst pipe, roof leaks, or other water problems, you can always count on St. Louis Cleaning and Restoration to get your life back on track. We’ll be there for you when you need us, with 24/7 emergency response service. As always, our initial consultation and estimates are free of charge.