9 steps to winterize your home

Winter is fast on our heels and there’s no time like the present to prepare for the cold season. Winter storms can devastate your home. Ice, snow, rain and wind are all potential dangers, but taking these 9 steps for winterizing your home can make it safer and may even save you money over time.

Implement a few key changes over the weeks ahead and you’ll be happy you did when the storms hit.

9 Steps for Winterizing Your Home

1. Check your heating system.

Before firing up your furnace, boiler or chimney, have your heating system(s) serviced. It’s a good idea to have these checked at least once a year.

2. Inspect and insulate pipes.

Carefully inspect pipes for cracks and leaks, and have them repaired as soon as possible. Insulate exposed pipes and seal cracks to prevent them from bursting.

3. Know the location of the main water shutoff valve.

If your pipes freeze, the quicker you shut off the water, the better chance you have of preventing them from bursting and causing major damage.

4. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, residential fires and carbon monoxide poisoning increase during the winter. Regularly check your detectors to make sure they are in working condition.

5. Clean out gutters.

Remove leaves, sticks and other debris from gutters so that rain and melting snow can flow freely. This will help prevent backed up gutters and water seeping into your house through ceilings and walls.

6. Trim trees and remove dead branches.

Ice, snow, wind and rain can cause weak trees and tree limbs to fall and damage your car or home – or even people walking on your property.

7. Seal exterior cracks and holes.

To keep your energy bill low and your home free of mold, caulk openings and install weather stripping around windows and doors to prevent cold air and moisture from entering.

8. Stock up on emergency items.

Be sure you have flashlights and a portable radio with extra batteries, any necessary medications, at least three days of water and canned food for family and pets, a can opener, first-aid supplies, heating fuel, and a lighter and/or generous supply of matches.

9. Don’t forget insurance!

For information about insurance, call a AAA insurance professional at 1-866-222-7868, or visit your local AAA service center.