Winter can be the hardest season on your house, especially if you live in an area like the Northeast. By taking preventative steps such as those outlined in this article, you can save yourself the cost and hassle of winter home issues. Holiday disasters and winter dangers can be minimized or prevented by staying informed and aware.

1. Chimney and Fireplace Upkeep

There’s nothing like a warm fireplace to escape the chill outside, but without proper care and upkeep, your chimney and fireplace can present a danger. Have your chimney professionally cleaned and inspected at least once a year. Otherwise, soot and other hazardous byproducts can build up, causing potential issues like excess carbon monoxide. An inspection can also reveal any cracks in the flue lining, which is a fire hazard. Always employ an approved safety screen when using your fireplace, to prevent hot ashes from escaping, and always be sure that your fire is out when you’re finished.

Keeping your chimney and fireplace in good working order are important. However, these are not the only potential causes of home fires, which are most prevalent during winter months.

2. Fire Prevention

Fires are an unfortunate reality, but many of them are caused by preventable means. Along with keeping up on the maintenance of your chimney and fireplace, you can also prevent home fires by never leaving your stove unattended, keeping flammable materials away from sources of heat, and not overloading your circuits (for example, with too many kitchen appliances).

Wild animals are another potential fire hazard. As they seek shelter from winter’s harsh elements, they can find ways inside your home and chew through wires, presenting a significant risk. Inspect your crawlspace or attic for any signs of droppings or disturbed insulation. If you notice any flickering lights, contact an electrician right away.

Fire Safety Checklist
• Install a smoke detector on every floor of your home and one inside every bedroom.
• Replace the batteries in your smoke detector at least once per year and check them every month.
• Inspect the windows in your home to assert that are in good working order and accessible, in case of the need for emergency exit.
• Keep the exterior vents for appliances, such as your dryer, clean and cleared of obstructions or snow.

3. Icicles and Ice Dams

Along with presenting a hazard to people on the ground if they get too big, reoccurring icicles can be a sign of an ice dam in your gutter system. An ice dam occurs when melting snow and ice pool and freeze around the bottom area of your roof and in your gutters, which then causes melting water to build up behind it. Untreated, this can lead to a serious risk of leaks in your ceiling or attic space.

Icicles on your siding are usually a more serious problem that requires a professional inspection, as it means that water has gotten past the shingles and into the roof itself. This can cause major structural damage if left untreated.

4. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, and during the winter season, a potential threat. Install a battery-operated CO2 detector in your home and make sure to change the batteries twice a year and keep it in good working condition. Get your furnace and gas-powered appliances checked yearly for any signs of malfunction. Never run a generator or similar device inside the home and always ensure that they have adequate ventilation when operating.

Winter can be a stressful time of the year for homeowners, but with some preventative maintenance and knowledge of what to look for, that stress can be reduced. Be sure to keep your home maintenance consistent so that when spring comes, you don’t have any major headaches. For more information about winter safety issues and what you can do about them, visit us on Facebook at . We’d be happy to assist you with any questions!