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Six Ways to Get Your Home Ready for Winter

Winterizing your home can help to lower your energy bills, prevent bigger more costly repairs in the future, and reduce the risk of accidents like a home heating fire. Erie Insurance provides six simple ways you can winterize your home this season.

1. Windows and Doors
You can prevent chilly drafts, and high heating bills, by checking and replacing any worn weather stripping, and caulking any cracks. For loose-fitting doors, slide a draft guard or rolled-up towel underneath to fill the gap. For old or drafty windows, consider peel-and-stick window insulation film, it can keep up to 70% of heat from escaping.

2. Gutters
Start by clearing debris from gutters and downspouts to prevent them from leaking or sagging. Clogged gutters and subsequent water issues can cause foundation problems, wall and ceiling damage, or even insect infestations. Just make sure you do it safely – use a tall, sturdy ladder and never stand on the top three rungs.

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3. Roof
Snow can be a heavy burden for an old or damaged roof to handle. Before winter hits, inspect your roof for signs of potential problems, like missing, broken, blistered or curling shingles; cracked caulk or rust spots; or large patches of moss and lichen. Any damaged, loose or missing shingles should be repaired right away.

4. Trees and Landscaping
It’s a good idea to trim any branches hanging near electric wires before they become a problem. Also, know how to spot the signs of a diseased or dying tree. Heavy snow and strong winter winds can knock down weak branches, so it’s best to do the prep work while the weather’s still mild.

5. Fireplace
Check your fireplace and flue system to remove soot or ashes. Check for cracks that could be a fire hazard. Also, examine the fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may need to be repaired or replaced. If you’re not planning on using your fireplace at all, invest in a chimney balloon to block the opening. Most importantly, know what fixes are safe for you to tackle and what should be in the hands of a certified chimney sweep with training and proper equipment.

6. Furnace
Before you turn up the heat for the season, start by changing (or cleaning) your furnace filter. It’s also a good idea to have an HVAC professional check your furnace once per year. Make sure the furnace’s burners are free of dust and debris. If you choose to use a space heater for extra warmth, be cautious. Space heaters cause about one-third of all winter house fires and 80 percent of all winter heating fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

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