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Winterization Tips to Prepare Your Home for More Than the Holidays

November 6, 2023

For many people, this is the most wonderful time of the year. With the holidays right around the corner, we’re preparing for get-togethers with family and friends and filling up our calendars.

But, before you buy the turkey or start chipping away at your gift list, you may need to address an area that’s frequently overlooked during the seasonal hustle and bustle: home winterization. It may not be top of mind as you scramble to keep up with your holiday schedule, but it certainly should be.

Winterize for the holidays – wherever you go

Whether you are traveling or staying home for the holidays, now is a good time to take some routine steps to winterize your home and make it safe for you and your family. At first glance, a winterization list can be rather daunting, but most of these home maintenance projects are standard, easy and affordable.

  1. Clean the gutters. This allows melting snow to drain properly.
  2. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Change the batteries and test them to make sure they are working.
  3. Check and clean your fireplace. Animal nests or creosote buildup can be hazardous. Hire a chimney sweep for annual cleaning.
  4. Perform furnace maintenance. Have your furnace inspected and ducts cleaned. To help your furnace function more efficiently, replace filters at least every three months.
  5. Winterize water pipes. Make sure they are properly insulated to prevent them from bursting.
  6. Block the cold. Inspect doors and windows for air leaks. Use caulking, foam insulation or insulated curtains. Make sure attics and crawl spaces are properly insulated.
  7. Inspect the roof. Look for damaged or missing shingles, clear debris, cut back overhanging branches and install snow guards. For those who are traveling during the holidays, the risk of undetected losses is much greater.

Watch for water

Many homeowners view internal water damage as the top risk to their home while they are away. In fact, it’s one of the most common and costly causes of loss.

As a result, the insurance industry encourages people to install water leak detection devices. A better option includes an automatic water shut-off feature, which responds if a leak is detected.

In addition to preventing severe water damage, your insurance carrier may offer a premium discount on your homeowner’s policy. Many carriers have already researched and vetted water shut-off device vendors and may have negotiated discounts for clients. Here are a few vendors to consider.

You will need to know your water main pipe size to order the right product size. As with all plumbing updates, it’s important to hire a professional for installation.

Many insurance carriers also offer a credit for having a low temperature monitoring system. While there are systems you can install and monitor from your phone, the insurance carriers would require this function to be monitored 24/7 by a central alarm company to qualify for a credit on your homeowners’ policy.

Review your homeowners’ insurance policy

Wherever you spend the holidays, you should review your homeowner’s insurance policy and compare it to your winterization to-do list. It’s important to understand the limitations and exclusions within your policy, so there are no surprises in the unfortunate event of a loss.

Reviewing your policy with your insurance advisor provides peace of mind. It helps make sure you’ve not only prepared your home for winter, but also protected it with broad coverage and best-in-class claims service.

Not all homeowner policies are equal. The advisors at Oswald can help you figure it all out and find the right homeowners’ coverage.

For more information, please contact us below or learn more on our Personal Risk page.

Lisa Buehner, CPRIA, CISR Elite
Direct line: 248-433-7935

Property & Casualty - Personal Risk

This post was originally published in November 2021; updated November 2023.