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Winter Storm Preparation Tasks for Your Home

Adapted from Home Advisor Article

1. Trim Branches

If there are branches positioned to fall on your home, you'll want to trim them back before the first snowfall of the season. Branches that are in the vicinity of power lines on your property should only be cut or trimmed by a professional. Having this done before the snow comes can help prevent power outages.

2. Weatherproof Your Windows

If you have older, misaligned or single-paned windows, you're probably paying more than is necessary to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. That's because warm air escapes through the space around the windows, so your HVAC system has to work harder to keep your house warm.

You might find that installing energy-efficient, double-paned windows makes a noticeable difference in cutting down on energy costs, particularly during the colder months of the year. If heat is escaping from around your windows but not necessarily through them, you might just need a bit of caulk or weather stripping. This can be a simple DIY job or a task better handled by a handyman, depending on the extent of weatherproofing required.

3. Figure Out a Snow Removal Plan

You'll want to have a snow removal plan in place before your property looks like a winter wonderland. You may be able to clear shorter driveways and walkways by yourself just by shoveling snow the old-fashioned way. For larger properties, you'll likely want to enlist the services of a professional snow removal company. It's best to have a contract in place before the snowfall so you can agree upon a set rate. Some snow removal professionals will increase their prices to meet demand once a storm hits.

4. Have a Generator Ready

If you do lose power, an emergency home generator will keep your heat and electrical appliances working with minimal interruptions. There are different types of generators on the market, all of which should be installed by a licensed contractor for safety reasons.

Diesel or gas generators: These are generally used for work sites, not houses, but some higher-end models can provide light for short periods of time in the event of an outage. If a diesel or gas generator is used for any reason, it must be kept outside. They produce carbon monoxide, a lethal and odorless gas.

Natural gas home generators: These are permanently fixed to the outside of a structure and can provide power to the entire house indefinitely. They run on either natural gas or liquid propane, and most turn on automatically when the power goes out.

Select circuit generators: These only provide power to pre-selected electric devices in your house. Since non-essential devices will not be connected to the generator, the unit itself can be smaller and will run on less fuel.

Whole house generators: These are effective but can be quite expensive to install and run. According to Home Advisor's True Cost Guide, a large automatic generator designed to power a reasonably sized home can cost more than $20,000.

5. Don't Let the Pipes Freeze

Drain outdoor faucets and insulate interior pipes before cold weather hits. Depending on the size and layout of your house, this may be a simple DIY task or a job better suited for a professional plumber.

In extreme weather, you can leave your faucets dripping to keep water flowing and prevent pipes from freezing. However, if you suspect a leak, turn the water off and call a plumber immediately.

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