Michigan residents are now experiencing the first real cold weather of this winter season. With temperatures dipping well below freezing during the day and into the low teens at night, now is the time to make sure that your home is safeguarded against the bitterly cold weather that is sure to come.
If you have not yet done so, make a visual inspection of your furnace. If there are visibly rusty parts, replace them. Be sure to change the filter so that your furnace does not have to overwork this winter. It only costs a few dollars to buy a new filter. You could end up saving yourself much more than that in fuel/electricity bills if your furnace does not have to huff and puff in order to reach the desired temperature because the filter is clogged.
If you have a fireplace and plan on burning wood in it this winter, have a chimney sweep come in to inspect and clean it. Also be sure that the fireplace screen you have is in good condition. It should fit tightly against your fireplace so that hot ashes stay put. When you clean your fireplace, place the hot ashes in a metal container with a tightly fitting lid. Unfortunately many devastating Michigan house fires are a result of hot embers being placed in garbage bags or plastic buckets which are then either left inside the home or placed on porches or inside entrance-ways.
Thousands of Michigan homeowners face dealing with frozen pipes each winter. You can buy pipe insulation kits at any hardware store. Insulate those pipes running through crawlspaces and in outside walls. If you are going away, turn off the main water supply to your home. If you have a well, shut the pump off. It is always wise to ask a friend or neighbor to drop into your home every day or so while you are away to check that everything is alright. Do not forget to leave your contact information with that person so that you can be reached if anything does go wrong.
On the outside of your home, knock down any large icicles you find hanging over the roof of your house. During typical Michigan freezes and warm ups, that blanket of snow and ice on your roof can result in ice dams. The melting snow and ice can seep under shingles and into your home, causing extensive damage. You can easily make an ice dam sock using one leg of a pair of pantyhose. Fill the hose with deicer, tie it closed and then place it across any ice dams on your roof. This will melt the snow and ice so that it runs down the gutters and away from your home.