Preparing your home for the cold winter months

There is definitely a chill in the air. And if you’re not prepared that chill could damage your home.

But we spoke with an expert from a preparedness group called 'take winter by storm', to give you some advice on how best to protect your home during the colder months.

“We’re in the middle of winter weather and anything can kick up from freezing temperatures, from high winds to heavy rains,” said Karen Rich, program manager for Take Winter by Storm.

Take Winter By Storm is a collaborative, public-private effort between King County, the City of Seattle, and their utilities and emergency management offices to raise public awareness of the hazards of stormy weather and help protect lives and property.

Having your home ‘winter ready’ means starting outside first, said Rich. One of the first steps she recommends is to detach the hose from outside faucets.

“Faucet caps are like a few dollars apiece at your local hardware store. And if you don’t want to do that, you can just use towels and wrap them around your faucets,” said Rich.

Take Winter By Storm also recommends insulating pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and attic. According to Rich, these are the most susceptible to freezing.  Just 1/8 of an inch can crack in a pipe and cause massive flood damage, she said.

“The water ends up freezing inside of pipes, so a lot of copper pipes or pipes that are connected to your outdoor faucets,” she said.

When you’re inside the house, seal any openings around windows. Even a tiny opening can cause a pipe to freeze, she said. Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes. Use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out.

Even consider letting warm water drip overnight, just to keep the pipes from freezing. Also open up cabinet doors under your sink.

“Think kitchen faucet, typically that’s against an exterior wall, bathroom faucets and things like that, and just keep those doors open and that allows circulation of warmer air of your home to circulate around those pipes,” said Rich.

If you do plan on leaving for the holidays, leave your thermostat at 55-degrees at least.

“Because it’ll keep all the pipes throughout your home, interior home, warm enough so they won`t freeze,” said Rich.

And lastly be prepared for you and your family. Have that emergency kit ready, including flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, non-perishable food and plenty of water.