Tips for DC-area homeowners on how to get homes ready for winter

The official start of winter is more than a month away. With cold weather blowing into the D.C. area this week, it’s a strong reminder homeowners need to prepare their homes for winter.

As temperatures fall about 20 degrees below normal in the following days, plumbers turn their attention to thoughts of freezing pipes.

“Usually the problems occur if the people don’t shut off their outside spigots. The first thing they need to do is get the garden hose off the outside spigots. If the garden hose is connected, the garden hose freezes and sends the ice back up to the house,” said Eric Schidlo, of Centreville, Virginia-based Your Plumber & Sons.

Schidlo, a master plumber with more than 30 years of experience, said it is imperative homeowners disconnect garden hoses and turn off water to exterior faucets.

Turn the faucets open to ensure water in the line drains out, Schidlo said. Ice can split copper pipes and shatter plastic polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, pipes used in newly built homes.

Schidlo has other tips to get your home ready for winter:

  • Check all the windows in the home to make sure they are completely closed. “If it’s not locked, some of the older ones will actually drop, and you’ll have an inch or two gap at the top of it,” Schidlo said. It’s also a good idea to seal any leaks around windows and doors.
  • Homeowners should check gutters to make sure they are clear of debris, as well. Leaves in a gutter can block water from reaching the downspout, causing it to overflow and damage the roof and siding.
  • Fuel should be drained from garden equipment that uses power or put anti-freezing additives in the tanks to keep fuel from freezing.
  • “You put it in your lawn mower, your Weed Eater, your leaf blower, anything that has a gas motor that’s going to sit for the winter,” Schidlo said.
  • It’s always a good idea to keep an emergency kit in the home that could be helpful in case of power failure. The kit should include batteries, flashlights and candles, and a battery-powered radio.

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