Winter’s Wrath

winter-wrathIf you have been impacted by the current arctic temperatures, or if you live in an area frequently hit by winter storms, this article is for you! While you can’t change the weather, you can minimize some of winter’s biggest threats to your home.  

Here are a few suggestions to help avoid potentially expensive damage to your home this winter.

  • Keep Pipes Warm – Some of the most expensive damage comes from pipes that burst!  Even if your home is warm, the areas where your pipes are located may not be (attic, basement, back of cabinets).  Wrap pipes with insulation in these colder areas, or open cabinets to allow warm air to circulate.  Allowing your faucets to drip will keep water moving through your pipes and also helps prevent freezing.
  • Protect the outside – Clean your gutters to prevent water from clogging and freezing.  Make sure spouts direct water away from your home. Trim low tree branches that could freeze or snap, damaging your home or power lines.  Re-seal around doors and windows with caulk. Unhook garden hoses to prevent pipe damage.
  • Carbon Monoxide – Buy a detector to protect your family! This is one of the biggest winter dangers due to improper ventilation of furnaces, generators, propane burning devices or wood stoves. It is recommended that you have a detector on each level of your home.
  • Consider a Generator – This can help keep your home warm and keep things running. It can also help prevent frozen pipes and keep you more comfortable. Some insurance companies will give a discount if you have an automatic standby generator installed in your home.
  • Check the Roof – If too much snow accumulates, your roof could collapse; especially a flat one or those over porches and additions. Consider purchasing a roof rake that will enable you to “pull” snow off the roof while you stay safe on the ground!
  • Avoid Ice-dams – This happens when your home’s warmth melts the snow on your roof and it re-freezes near the roof’s edge. This creates a dam that can force leaks into your roof and damage interior ceilings and walls. If you see icicles dangling from your roof this could be an indication of ice-dams. To help prevent this, keep your attic cold (no more than 5-10 degrees warmer than outside). Prevent warm “leaks” into the attic by sealing holes around light fixtures and ceiling fans.
  • Keep Emergency Kits – Keep one in your home and one in your car. Include items like flashlights, batteries, battery-powered radio, a car charger for your cell phone, non-perishable food items, water, blankets, some extra cash, gloves, hats, mittens, etc. Always keep your car’s fuel tank at least ½ full during the winter months.

Taking these steps just a day or two before a big storm hits can make a big difference!


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Winter’s Wrath

Ongoing Winter Home Maintenance

The holidays will come and go but we still have a few more months of winter to endure. Here are some tips for keeping your home in tip-top shape during the weather.

January 2013 IOV - Ecard

These simple steps could help you navigate the next few months without home repair headaches!

Ongoing Winter Home Maintenance

Holiday Decorating Tips

 Spruce up your home this holiday season with these simple suggestions. In a few easy steps, your home will be full of holiday charm and cheer.

Gearing up for the winter holidays? Check out our blog on winterizing your home to help keep your house warm and save you money. Also give our Fall clean up tips post a read for ways to clean up your home before winter begins. Happy Holidays!

Holiday Decorating Tips

Winterizing Your Home

For those of you dreading the long, cold months of winter that lie ahead, taking the time this fall to follow these simple steps will save you money on heating while keeping you warm.

Block the leaks – With energy costs on the rise, nothing makes more sense to homeowners than checking for any and all leaks around your home. On a breezy day, walk around and check the obvious sources of leaks: windows, doors, electrical outlets, etc. Caulking and adding outlet gaskets are two easy fixes for these trouble areas.

Windows – As you check for leaks, it is also a good time to replace your screens with storm windows.

Clean the gutters – This may be an ongoing chore through-out the fall season. Keep all spouts, gutters, and drains free of leaves and debris. Clear gutters will keep water moving away from your home and prevent icy clogs and back-ups.

Reverse the fans – Not often thought about, but your ceiling fans can impact the comfort of your home during the winter. Adjusting the fan to rotate in a clockwise direction will push warm air down into the living area.

Wrap the pipes – A pipe burst in the dead of winter is a nightmare! Check for un-insulated pipes in your home (crawl spaces, garages, basements) and get them wrapped. Remove hoses and drain all water from outside faucets before the first frost.

Check the furnace – This should be done monthly to keep the furnace filter clean and air flowing efficiently. Replacing the filter is an easy way to keep your home comfortable ALL year round. An annual “check-up” by a professional is also a good idea.

Thermostat –Turning the temperature down a few degrees when you leave is a huge energy saver; every degree lower can save you between 1% and 3% on your energy bill. A programmable thermostat is a great way to eliminate this from your morning to-do list.

Insulate – Check the attic and other unfinished areas. It is recommended that you have a minimum of 12 inches of insulation. If you decide to add more insulation, avoid the type with paper backing, this will act as a vapor barrier and cause moisture problems.

Check the chimney – Last but not least…take a look at your chimney if you plan on using it over the winter. This should be done at least once a year, more often if you are using a woodstove. A chimney cap is also good idea for keeping foreign items out of the chimney. If not in use, close the damper to avoid cold drafts.

Stay Ahead of “Old Man Winter” and Protect Your Home!


Check out more tips for homeowners at

Winterizing Your Home

A Few Fall Cleanup Tips

The kids are headed back to school, the leaves are turning, and a chill is in the air. If you’re like most homeowners, fall also means an opportunity to spruce up your yard and cut down on the work you’ll need to do when Spring arrives again. 

Clean Garden Pots by washing grime & rings away with a 50/50 water and vinegar solution. Works well on both plastic and clay containers. 

Clean out the gutters, but wait until all the leaves have dropped. Check for leaks and any wear and tear and fix now before it snows or freezes over. This will help ensure your gutters are up to the task when Spring rains hit. 

Before storing the patio umbrella away for the winter, take a pair of pantyhose and use one leg to cover the closed umbrella and the other leg to wrap around the bottom (to keep it closed). This will help protect the umbrella yet still give it air to breathe. 

Spray down all patio furniture and if not brought inside (garage) to winter, tarp them. This will help the furniture last a lot longer, especially wood furniture. 

Remove or cover all open containers and pots. This helps protect them when it freezes plus you don’t want to provide pools of water for a mosquito breeding ground in the spring. 

If you have bags of birdseed to feed the birds in the fall and over winter, make sure the bags are in covered containers. Otherwise mice will find them and camp out in your storage area. 

Clean your tools by filling a pail with sand and used motor oil. Dig your garden tools in the mixture to sharpen them up and clean them. 

Rake those leaves,  but don’t worry about getting every last leaf, especially in the garden. They help insulate plants, and as they decompose, they provide valuable nutrients. An even better option would be to mulch the leaves back into the yard. The leaves, especially maple leaves, can act as an organic weed controller.  

Feed the grass. Fertilizing in the fall is like a day at the spa for your lawn. Using a slow-release fertilizer allows the grass to soak up nutrients and – just as important – spend the cool days and nights of autumn recovering from summer heat and stress. 

Weed the grass. Weeds germinate in the fall. To make sure there are fewer weeds in the spring, spray a liquid broadleaf herbicide over your yard during the first 10 days of October. 

Mow, mow mow. If you really want your yard to look great, make an effort to mow twice a week with the blade set at 2.5 to 3 inches through mid-October.

A Few Fall Cleanup Tips