Because freezing temperatures and snowfall continue to impact much of the country this winter, homeowners must ensure their property stays safe throughout the season and beyond. Note these safety measures to protect against power outages, fire damage and frozen pipes.
Install back-up generators to power all your home’s critical systems, including sump pumps, security and fire alarm systems and heating systems.
While fire presents a year-round risk, certain causes of fire occur more frequently during the winter. Approximately 25,000 residential fires begin in a fireplace or chimney every year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Boilers and furnaces pose particularly high risks as well. These fires are caused by a layer of unburned carbon-based residues (sometimes referred to as fireplace creosote) that builds up along the inside walls of your chimney and can eventually catch fire. The solution is to have a trusted, certified professional chimney sweep inspect your chimney annually and have it cleaned as necessary.
While home fires make headlines, water damage is also common and often just as severe. The most frequent cause is faulty or broken pipes. Be sure to insulate exposed pipes to prevent freezing or bursting.
Whether you leave your home for warmer climates or spend a weekend on the ski slopes, always leave the heat on in your home with the thermostat set to at least 55 degrees. Don’t let high fuel prices tempt you into going lower. The pipes that come in through your foundation or run through external walls can reach temperatures much lower than the setting on your thermostat, so have someone check on your home periodically while you are away.
A foolproof way to protect your home from broken or leaking pipes at any time of year is to install an automatic water shutoff system. Attached to your home’s main water supply line, these devices detect leaks as they happen and automatically shut-off the water to the home, thereby preventing further ongoing damage. Additionally, these devices can be integrated into a home’s security or smart-house system to provide real-time notification when the shut-off valve has activated.