Monday, December 1, 2014

Safety tips for your Keller home this winter season

Cold temperatures and problematic weather could be in store for Keller this winter and that means homeowners need to take steps to ensure that their loved-ones and property stay safe and warm through the long, cold months ahead.

While forecasts are never a guarantee, this winter shouldn't be as nasty as last year because the persistent, large-scale atmospheric climate patterns that caused the cold last winter are really unlikely to form according to forecasters. Nevertheless, precautions should be taken.

Chimney fires, frozen pipes, ice dams, and water are destructive enemies for Keller homeowners. Take time now to do the important things that protect your property. A few precautions can help protect you from serious losses and disruptions this season.

Chimney and furnace fires
While fire presents a year-round risk, certain causes of fire occur more frequently during the winter. Chimneys, boilers and furnaces pose particularly high risks. Studies suggest that approximately 25,000 residential fires begin in a fireplace or chimney every year. 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. A chimney and flue system is a complicated mechanical system that requires regular inspections, just as HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems do. The only way to know if you have a problem with your chimney is to have it inspected regularly.

Indoor floods
While home fires make headlines, water damage is also common and often just as severe. The most frequent cause is faulty or broken pipes. In fact, studies show a surge in water damage during the first three months of the year, when pipes are most likely to freeze and burst. Be sure to insulate exposed pipes. If you leave your home to spend time in warmer climates or even just a weekend on the ski slopes, always leave the heat on in your home and set the thermostat 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 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.

Backup generators
Power outages can cause many problems from food spoilage to basement flooding. Install back-up generators to power all of your home’s critical systems including sump pumps, security and fire alarm systems, and heating systems.

Ice dams
Snow and ice storms can create a number of potential threats to your home. One of these is ice damming, which occurs in the days after a snowstorm. Icicles hanging from your eaves, while they may be beautiful, usually indicate that a dangerous ice dam has formed. An ice dam is a build-up of ice that can form at the edge of your roof when precipitation melts but is blocked from draining. When more precipitation melts and is trapped behind this ice, the resulting water backup can soak through your roof and cause damage to ceilings, walls and more. The most common causes of ice dams are clogged gutters and insufficient insulation, both of which are easy to remedy.

Old trees
Mature trees on your property represent another potential hazard during storms. Strong winds or frozen water that covers old branches with a heavy coat of ice can lead to failure and collapse, a clear threat to your home or other nearby structures. Have a trusted horticultural expert take a look at your property’s mature trees and prune or cut down unstable specimens.

Follow this checklist to make sure your Keller home is properly winterized:
* Consider installing an automatic water shutoff device.
* Prevent frozen pipe bursts by insulating exposed pipes.
* Have your furnaces and chimneys inspected annually and cleaned as necessary.
* Install backup generators for critical systems in the home.
* Inventory your personal contents.
* Remove stored items and clutter from your furnace room.
* Set your thermostat to no lower than 55 degrees when you leave your house.
* Have your roof gutters cleaned and inspected.
* Replace insulation if necessary.
* Keep art and collectables a safe distance from heat sources (fireplace, heat vents, etc.).
* Have mature trees inspected and maintained.
* Have salt/sand on hand for icy sidewalks and driveways.

Whether it's selling your home or finding a new one, we have designed this site so that you can quickly and easily locate the information you are looking for. The Grove Team's client-centered approach results in the best possible outcome for you. Please contact us now to begin the process of achieving your dreams in home ownership. 

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