Freeport 815-235-2111 — Galena 779-214-0461 — Galena Territory 815-777-3100

We have had the luxury of enjoying a very long fall this year but it is December and winter is here. If you haven’t already winter-proofed your home, here are somethings to do to keep your home safe and comfortable throughout the winter.

Starting with the exterior, disconnect your outside hose from the spigot and drain it. Invest in a faucet protector to keep the cold air from getting into the pipes. You can buy one for under $10 at the home improvement store. If you have exposed pipes in your basement or garage, make sure you wrap them with insulation to keep them from freezing.

Make sure your gutters are cleaned out and free from leaves. Gutters that are clogged will cause water from melting snow to freeze and expand causing them to crack or worse yet, forcing the water in through the foundation. Fixing that problem can be very expensive. If you are unable to clean the gutters yourself, hire it done. It may cost 100 to 200 dollars but it is much cheaper than repairing your foundation or having to buy new gutters.

Walk around your house and look for any cracks or gaps around windows and doors. Caulk can close the gaps very inexpensively and can save heat loss and save on your heating bill. If you have old or ill- fitting windows that requires more than a tube of caulk. If replacing them is not in the budget, you can get plastic wrap kits at the home improvement store that can help keep the heat from escaping and cold air from coming in. They are pretty simple to do yourself and relatively inexpensive when compared to the cost of heating your home without them.

If you haven’t done so already, bring in or cover your patio furniture and grill. Leaving them exposed to the winter weather will dramatically shorten their life span. If you can’t bring them inside, invest in good covers that fit well and will protect them from the snow and ice. Remember to bring in any ceramic pots you had plants in this summer. Freezing and thawing will cause them to crack if left outside.

Inside your home, make sure you have your furnace serviced to make sure it is in good, safe working order. There is nothing worse than having your furnace go out in the middle of a blizzard or sub- zero temperature snap. Spend the money now to insure you and your family will be comfortable and safe in your home all winter. Change the furnace filter if you haven’t already and remember that you should change them more often in the winter. The furnace will be running all the time and whatever is in the ducts will be dispersed throughout your home. If you haven’t had your heating ducts cleaned recently, now might be a good time to do so. This might be a good time to install a programmable thermostat if you don’t already have one. This can save you substantially on your heating bill. You can set the temperature lower while you are at work or sleeping and have it higher when you are home. You can program it once and not have to remember to turn it down every day when you go to work.

If you have a fireplace, make sure you have it cleaned and inspected before you use it. Especially if you will be burning wood, creosote and build up and poses a huge fire threat. Even if you have a gas fireplace it is a good idea to have your chimney cleaned and inspected. Animals and debris can get caught in your chimney and pose a safety hazard and should to be removed before you use your fireplace.

Lastly and probably most important- make sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Have fresh batteries in all of them and test them regularly to make sure they are working properly. You need a smoke detector on every level of your home as well as near your bedrooms. Have a plan for your family in case of a fire and make sure everyone knows it. Unfortunately, more fires occur in the winter and you want to make sure your family knows what to do in case one breaks out in your home.

A little preparation now will insure you have a safe, cozy home this winter and aren’t facing major repairs in the spring. Happy Holidays!

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