Ready for the bitter cold

Published 8:27 pm Thursday, December 9, 2010

By Heather McGinley
Staff Writer

Cold weather is now officially here, but there are still steps homeowners can take to prepare their residence or a vacant property for winter.

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Faith Ashley, associate broker and office and rental manager with Chorey and Associates Realty, provides a number of steps that you can use to prepare your home or property for winter.

Ashley advises homeowners to put a cover over all outside facets and window air conditioning units to protect them from the elements. At Ashley’s home, she drains the hoses to prevent them from freezing and cracking and makes sure that all of the crawl space covers are closed to prevent cold winds from getting under her home. Ashley advises homeowners to cover crawl space vents to further prevent cold winds from getting under your home.

To protect the inside of your property and keep your home warm, she advises covering windows with plastic and placing a rolled-up towel at the front and back doors to keep out drafts.

For properties that are vacant for an extended period of time, Ashley has maintenance shut off the water and drain lines, adding a liquid similar to antifreeze to the lines so that they won’t freeze. She typically keeps the utilities on to further ensure that nothing in the home freezes. Ashley said that maintenance also wraps the pipes under the property with long foam strips of tubing, covers the outside faucets with covers and drains the hot water heater. According to Ashley, the inside of the heater can freeze, too, which damages the unit.

It is also important to winterize your heating system. According to Ashley, radiators and baseboards can burst if not winterized properly.

“If the property is vacant, the owner may not know for several days,” Ashley said. “It takes thousands of dollars to fix something like that.”

Finally, Ashley advises property owners to hire someone with experience to do the winterizing work. It’s a small price to pay in comparison to what repairs can cost.