How to Prepare Your Western NY House for Winter

Elma NY Home Inspected in Winter
Fall is here in the Buffalo area and snow is just around the corner! Get your home ready for the freezing temperatures now. Here are a few tips to help you prepare.

Prevent Plumbing from Freezing

Most plumbing in a home essentially takes care of itself and doesn’t require any sort of annual maintenance. But, there are a few tips that might prevent a disaster.

The first of these is to remove garden hoses from exterior faucets. The water in the faucets can freeze and cause the hose to burst or otherwise damage it.

After all of the outside hoses have been removed and stored indoors, go into the basement and look for valves on the pipes that feed the exterior faucets. If they are present, turn them off. Then go outside and briefly turn on and then off the faucets. Doing this will remove water from the line and any chance of the exterior portion from freezing.

Not all homes have shut-off valves on the inside. It’s a feature that has not always been required in newly constructed houses.

Have your Heating System Inspected

When I inspect a furnace or boiler, especially older ones, I typically recommend to my client that they have the system professionally cleaned and inspected by a reputable HVAC professional soon after they move their family into the house.

To keep the home warm, these system almost always burn natural gas or propane, placing you and your family at risk of exposure to carbon monoxide and other poisonous exhaust gases if certain installation issues or failures occur.

Make sure that the exhaust systems of the furnaces or boiler is installed properly. Often the piping associated with them is installed in very haphazard ways that could allow carbon monoxide to escape into the home’s interior. It’s common for us to find problems in exhaust piping, including holes and disconnected pipes. These problems are easy and inexpensive to have professionally repaired.

Furnace inspections by HVAC professionals should include a visual inspection of all interior and exterior components, including venting. High-efficiency units should be checked for performance using a combustion analyzer and checking the gas pressure. Older furnaces may have failing fans or cracked heat exchangers – both of these conditions can be expensive to repair. If the heat exchanger has failed then it is time to replace the furnace.

Boilers require annual cleaning in order to for them to last as long as they can.

Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide (abbreviated as “CO”), is a deadly gas that can leak from a home’s furnace, boiler or water heater. Leaks can occur for a variety of reasons, including failure or improper installation of vent piping.

CO detectors are designed to alert you before the gas level rises to the level of danger, and they save many lives each year. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that CO detectors are installed in a central area outside of every bedroom, and on every level of the home. This includes the basement.

Make sure that CO detectors are installed in all of these locations.

Trim Branches

People die from falling tree branches that become loaded with snow. Often, this happens when someone is shoveling snow or running a snow blower. Take a look at your trees and have any large branches removed or trimmed.

Get the Snow Blower Ready!

Finally, gas-powered snow blowers require annual upkeep in order to last the longest and prevent problems. You don’t want to have a breakdown in the middle of January!

At a minimum, change the oil and lubricate any moving parts. Take your old oil to any auto shop or other facility that performs oil changes must accept used oil from the public at zero charge.

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About the Author:

Bradley Beck

Bradley is owner of Alto Home Inspection, LLC.  He lives just south of Orchard Park, in Western New York’s Southtowns, and inspects homes throughout the Buffalo area.  He is a member of ASHI and is a Certified Professional Inspector with InterNACHI.

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