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Winterize: How To Prepare Your Home For Winter

Your chimney/woodstove/fireplace. Next on your list should be your chimney and other heating sources such as woodstoves and fireplaces. If you don’t have a woodstove or fireplace, you may not have to have your chimney cleaned/swept each year, but you should definitely check it to see if it does need sweeping. Chimneys attached to woodstoves or fireplaces are another thing entirely. These (and all associated pipes) should be swept at least a couple of times a year, as needed. Creosote can not only build up and create a fire hazard, but the stuff is super acidic and can quickly eat its way through mortar, metal, etc. if you let it go.

In addition to sweeping, you should inspect all piping, connections, and mortar to make sure that everything is in good condition and fits snuggly. Check the dampers on your fireplace or woodstove to make sure that they are working correctly (i.e. opening and closing). While we’re on the subject, make sure that any wood you’re going to be burning is stacked and located away from the house. Finally, regardless of what kind of chimney you have, make sure you put a cap atop it. A cap will keep out both rain (which can combine with creosote to make an even more acidic mix) and birds, as well as debris like leaves that can build up.

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Your smoke detector. While you’ve knocked the threat of fire way down by taking care of your furnace, chimneys and woodstove, it’s still imperative that you have working smoke detectors in your house. While you’re doing your winterizing chores, add your smoke detectors to the list. Change out all batteries and test them with real smoke; don’t just push the test button and assume you’re all set. A good rule of thumb is one detector per house level, but check with your city/town to see if there are any municipal regulations concerning detectors; some require you to have one in every room.

You should have a couple of fire extinguishers as well, just in case. Check that they are fully charged, and replace any extinguishers that are over ten years old. Finally, pick up a carbon-monoxide detector to keep an eye on this invisible, deadly threat. Install it near your furnace or hot water heater, two primary carbon-monoxide sources in most houses.

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One Response to “Winterize: How To Prepare Your Home For Winter”

  1. JamiB says:

    I’m sitting here plugging up every hole I can find around my windows and doors and didn’t even think to make sure the furnace was optimized for winter. Programmable thermostat ordered and calling the furnace guy to set up an appointment when the rest of the world wakes up. Great winterization guide, thanks!


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