(courtesy of The Boston Globe)
The Farmers’ Almanac is predicting an “ice cold & snow-filled winter” in the Northeast, so let’s button down, bundle up, and brace ourselves and our homes before the flakes fly. Winter storms in the United States caused an estimated $3.5 billion in insured losses in 2015, up from $2.6 billion in 2014, the Insurance Information Institute has reported, so we’ve compiled a to-do list to help you prepare and persevere.
The following is a DECEMBER TO-DO LIST. See OCTOBER & NOVEMBER TO-DO LISTS in my previous blog posts
■ Check for leaky fixtures in the kitchen and bathrooms. Replace washers or cartridges if necessary.
■ Inspect caulking around sinks, bathtubs, and showers.
■ Make sure the door seals on your refrigerator are
airtight. Test them by closing the door over a dollar bill. If you can pull the bill out easily, the latch may need to be adjusted or the seal may need to be replaced. Clean the coils (at least twice a year if you have pets).
■ Check and clean the dryer vent, air conditioner, stove hood, and bathroom fans. Inspect exterior hoods for
insect infestations and bird nests. (Make sure the vent is free from snow during and after major storms.)
■ Protect your home from frozen pipes by sealing air leaks and insulating rim joists with a foam panel.
■ Locate and mark the shut-offs for the heating, electrical, and plumbing systems.
■ Check the electrical panel for rust or water marks. All breakers should be turned off and on to ensure none have seized. Is the panel warm to the touch or does it smell like burned insulation? Call an electrician. All circuits should be labeled.
■ Test all ground fault-circuit interrupters monthly and have a licensed electrician review the whole system every 10 years.
■ Clean vents and radiators of debris. Vacuum radiator fins.
■ Test your generator monthly. Keep the tank full and the fuel fresh with a stabilizer. (Make sure you always operate your generator outside at least 5 feet away from the house and facing away from doors, windows, and vents.)
■ Prune diseased rose canes and long shoots that could whip in the wind.
■ Buy an outdoor water-heating unit to keep your birdbath from freezing.
■ Heavily mulch root crops such as parsnips to harvest throughout the winter.
■ Dump exhausted soil from pots in the compost pile to get renewed by micro-organisms there.
■ Renew mulch around trees and gardens and in beds to a depth of 4 inches. Avoid direct contact with plants.
■ Apply 25 pounds of calcite lime per 1,000 square feet of garden or lawn and let it settle over the winter.
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