It's almost time to start digging out those mittens and scarves, but hopefully not those shovels just yet! Harsh winter weather can cause a great deal of damage to your home. That is why winterizing your home is important, and should be done before cold temperatures, snow, ice, and wind of the cold fall and winter seasons arrive. Fiderio & Sons wants to help you through this upcoming winter season. Don't wait until winter strikes, spend some time and start taking precautions now, before it's too late, by using these helpful tips.

Clear your gutters of debris and leaves. If you have clogged gutters then you are going to want to clean them before winter hits. Gutters riddled with debris can lead to the formation of ice dams on your roof. This occurs when water continually builds up and freezes near the edge of your roof. When these ice dams form they can block the pathway for melted snow to leave your roof. Water will eventually seep into your home through this type of build up, and can lead to water damage. Clean out the dead leaves (and other build up) from your gutters so water can drain from your roof freely. Installing gutter guards is another option that many home owners choose to install. Gutter guards are screens that prevent leaves and other debris from entering a home's gutter system. 

Remove any overhanging tree limbs. Overhanging tree branches that hang near your roof, windows, or driveway could pose a problem to your home during the winter season, so it's important that you take the time to trim them back. When the winter weather comes around, snow and ice could weight these branches down and possibly cause them to buckle or break. A heavy branch that snaps off a tree due to snow or ice can easily damage a roof, winter, or car. If you take the time to trim your overhanging tree branches you can prevent this issue from ever happening.

Look for air leaks and block them. Drafts can waste 5% to 30% of your energy use according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The biggest culprit of all drafts are the areas near windows and around doors. You want to make sure that you block these leaks both inside and out in order to prevent any energy waste. If you are having trouble finding leaky areas in your home wait for a windy day and walk around your home with a candle. Hold your candle near your doors and windows and watch to see if the flame flickers in any areas. For drafty areas underneath your door try rolling a towel or buying a draft snake. For drafty windows try re-caulking the outside of your windows with weather or water resistant caulking. 

Call an HVAC professional and have them inspect your furnace and air ducts. Before you turn your heating system on for the first time during the season you want to have it checked out to make sure it is running properly and efficiently. Calling an HVAC professional to maintain your furnace is your best option. All reputable HVAC professionals will preform a safety check for carbon monoxide, clean and replace air filters, inspect your gas piping, and more. While there, you will also want to have your air ducts cleaned and checked for any blockage. Some homes have reported an average of a 50% heated air lose through their heating ducts alone. Checking your air ducts for leaks can save you a lot of money over the winter season.

Take a look at your pipes, and wrap them if you need to. Making sure your pipes are insulated can greatly reduce your heat loss, and can also raise hot water temperatures for your home. This makes lowering the heat on your boiler an option, and that can save you even more money on utility bills. Making your pipes more energy efficient can prevent them from freezing, and can even conserve water. You can pick up pipe insulation from any of your local hardware stores, and if you have any questions about installing it, call a local contractor and ask for help.

Don't forget to check your insulation including your attic. Adding fiberglass insulation to your attic can boost the energy efficiency in your home. As a general rule of thumb, your attic needs a minimum of 12 inches of insulation. If you need extra layers go ahead and add them, but make sure the new insulation doesn't have paper backing if you are attaching it to your existing insulation. Providing extra insulation in your attic can also help keep your roof warmer for melting snow and ice build up.

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