Winter is quickly approaching, and we have all heard the stories of busted pipes or roof and chimney issues.  As winter weather wreaks havoc, with its snow, ice and heavy winds, it is important that we do our best to prepare our homes for what could come.
Here’s a handy list that may help:
1.  Have your furnace inspected.  This should happen at least once a year to make sure all parts of your furnace are functioning properly and prepared to heat your home in the coldest months.
2.  Have your chimney and vents inspected. Check for creosote build-up (this is the number one cause of chimney fires). Creosote is a byproduct of incomplete combustion that builds up in your chimney or flue.
3. Make sure your portable heaters have an automatic shut off button and are plugged directly into the wall and not an extension cord. Also be sure that they are placed at least 3 feet from anything that can burn. This includes holiday decor, bedding, clothing, and furniture.
4.  Test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.  There should be a minimum of one on each level of your home, and one in each bedroom.  Having interconnected alarms is best because when one goes off, the others do, too.
5.  Examine the exterior walls of your home.  Regardless of the materials of your home, each one is susceptible to damage in winter with ice, rain, and freezing weather. Look for signs of cracking and wet or damp areas susceptible to further damage. Cycles of freezing and thawing can cause cracks in the exterior and can make structures unstable.  If a problem is detected, handle it immediately, if possible, because the longer you wait to handle the issue, the more problems could arise for you in the future.
6.  Insulate your pipes.  This is IMPORTANT.  Frozen pipes can be a disaster to any home. When water freezes, it expands and when the pipes are not insulated properly, it causes the pipes to burst, sending an explosive stream of water into its surroundings. Protect your pipes by installing foam insulation tubes around exterior ones or those in a loft to reduce the risk of freezing. Before the first frost, turn off the outside taps at the isolating valve. This will help mitigate freezing conditions. If you suspect that you have problems with frozen pipe, make sure to keep taps on to relieve any water pressure while the ice melts.  You can also use simple tools like a hairy dryer to thaw frozen pipework in order to help get the water moving.
These are some simple steps to help you prepare your home for the winter months.  We know how precious your time, resources, and most importantly, your family is to you, and our hope is that you never have to encounter roof, pipe, or fire related issues.  
Have a wonderful day!