Faster than some might have expected, the time has come to prepare homes for winter storms and freezing nights. For those who are new to living on their own, cheap and doable tasks are key to saving money and home safety during this season. Students are already drowning in responsibilities, so a little preventive care can make life easier in the long run. Here are some useful tips on how to maintain a safe and warm house:

1. Clean The Gutters

Cleaning your gutters before winter hits may not be as fun as decorating your home for the upcoming holiday season, but it can definitely keep your home from suffering from drainage clogs. Put on a pair of heavy-duty gloves and use either a gutter scoop, pressure washer, or leaf blower to help get rid of big clogs. If you do use a pressure washer or leaf blower, be sure to wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from the debris. After you’ve cleared out the majority of the debris from your roof gutters, do another visual inspection. Do you see any cracks or leaks? Cracks or leaks can cause problems later such as gutter breakage, roof damage and mold on during the winter and are best to fix or replace before it gets too cold.

    2. Insulate Walls & Caulk Windows & Doors:

Caulking seals the doors and windows to prevent wind and cold air from coming in. It must always be applied to a clean dry surface. Remove the failed caulking with an old fashioned can and bottle opener, screwdriver or scraper and apply new caulking from a caulking gun directly to the cracks you wish to seal. For leaks between the moving-section of the window and the window frame, you can use weather stripping tape which is cheaper and easier to apply. Both can be removed at winter’s end; however, weather strips are easier to handle. All of the information above supports directions for caulking doors as well.

     3. Repair Roof Leaks:

Heavy snowstorms or ice buildup keeps your home from heating efficiently and can cause damage to roofing shingles and trusses as well. Oregon doesn’t get much snow, however, ice  is common. Before you climb to the top of your roof, grab a flashlight and head to your attic. When you get to this part of the house, shine the light on the ceiling to find any signs of water damages or leaks, dark spots or a sagging roof deck. Call a reputable roofer and have it fixed sooner than later to save money. If your rooftop is at least 20 years old, then there’s a good chance that your roof will need plenty of repairs or a complete roof replacement.

    4. Wrap Water Pipes:

Insulating water supply pipes in exposed areas of your home is a good idea for several reasons. In cold-winter climates, water supply pipes that are exposed to exterior walls or unheated spaces may freeze, burst, and flood your home—a situation that can cause many thousands of dollars in damage. Insulating water pipes can also save money on energy costs by preventing hot water pipes from losing their heat to surrounding air. To prevent frozen pipes, the critical pipes to insulate are those that run through unheated spaces, such as exterior walls, unheated garages, the floor cavities above unheated crawl spaces, unheated attics, etc. It’s not necessary to insulate pipes that run through interior walls or in basements that are heated.

    5.Get the Furnace Checked & Change the Filters:

Like other mechanical items, a furnace has moving parts. A certified HVAC technician can inspect the moving parts and lubricate, clean, or replace them so your system is running as efficiently as it can. A properly-tuned furnace will run more efficiently, thus reducing your heating bills. Annual inspections ensure that your furnace will work when you need it and prevents costly emergency repairs and health risks in your home. When the heat exchanger in your furnace becomes cracked, gases like carbon monoxide can escape into your home. Installing a carbon monoxide alarm is a smart idea.

     6. Avoid Ice Dams:

Ice dams are formed when water from melted snow freezes in the gutters and seeps in under the roof, soaking interior walls. Here’s how to prevent this from happening:

  • Insulate the attic floor well to minimize the amount of heat rising through the attic from within the house.
  • When replacing a roof, consider having a water-repellent membrane installed under your roof covering.
  1. Alternative Ways to Stay Warm:

Portable, non electric space heaters are another option to warm a home. Make sure propane heaters are indoor-safe because many propane heaters designed for outdoor use can cause a deadly carbon monoxide build up if used in an enclosed space. Kerosene heaters also produce carbon monoxide, but when operated properly do so at a minimum. It’s a good idea to crack open a window for ventilation when you use a space heater, and keep it at least 3 feet from anything flammable. Safety Tip: Generators, fireplaces and non-electric space heaters can all produce dangerous carbon monoxide gas, as can any furnace that burns fuel. Always make sure to have working carbon monoxide detectors in your home, and check their batteries periodically through winter.