It’s important to prepare your home for winter, because it takes a beating. Pelting rain, high winds, snow, and sub-zero temperatures test your home’s integrity. Here are a few winter home maintenance tips to button up your home against the elements and to prevent costly insurance claims.

Tend To the Heating System

You certainly don’t want to return to an icy cold home or wake up without heat. It’s important you care for your heating system if you want it to perform efficiently and consistently throughout the cold winter months.

You may want to hire a professional to service your furnace since they clean it, change the filter, check components, and test the efficiency. If you use a wood burning fireplace or wood stove, it is very important you hire a chimney sweep to remove creosote buildup which can lead to a very destructive fire.

Check The Roof

Climbing onto a roof is a dangerous task and unless a homeowner understands roof construction and materials they’ll only spot very obvious problems. However, a professional roof inspector knows precisely what to look for and can often spot less evident damage.

The best part of a roof inspection is the contractor repairs minor damage before it becomes a major issue, which saves you money and extends the useful life of the roof. The second perk is they usually clean the mucky gutters too.

Seal Air Gaps

Sealing gaps around windows and doors saves money, keeps you warmer, and it’s very easy to do. Remove and reapply cracked caulking and weather strip doorways. Ensure door sweeps fit tightly to prevent drafts.

Check Detectors

All homeowners should test their home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors monthly. This is especially important during the winter months, since heating is a major cause of home fires.

Ensure you have smoke detectors on every level of your home and outside every sleeping area.

Protect Pipes

Unprotected hot and cold water pipes that run through the foundation or sit close to an uninsulated wall can freeze when the temperature dips. When water freezes it expands and causes the pipe to burst.

Insulate interior pipes near windows and doors and in unheated areas, such as the basement or garage. Shut off the valve to the outside tap, drain the water, and leave it valve open. Maintain a temperature of over 55 degrees Fahrenheit if you’ll be away.

Don’t Forget The Sump Pump

A good sump can rid your home of excess water, if it’s working. Pour a few gallons of water into the sump pit to ensure it runs. You may want to consider a backup battery for the sump pump if your home loses power.

Stock Survival Kit

Recent events show disaster can strike in unusual places. Even if your area’s remained safe until now, it doesn’t mean it always will be.

If you don’t have a survival kit, it’s time to prepare. Ready.gov provides step-by-step instructions and a list of what you’ll need. There’s no need to spend a fortune on an effective survival kit, but it’s a necessity. Scientists agree serious storms and power outages are the new normal.

Check Insurance Coverage

If you just renew your policy annually and pay your premium, you may have gaps in your coverage. The value of your home increases and you probably own more things now too.

An annual review of your New Jersey home insurance is a great way to realign your coverage with your needs. Homeowner’s policies do not cover flooding, so talk to your agent. Protect your home and stay safe throughout the winter.