While the weather outside is frightful, you can ensure you’re safe inside — at least, until a pipe freezes and bursts, or excessive ice causes flooding. It might seem pessimistic to look out at a gentle snowfall and immediately worry about the safety of your home — but remaining proactive can help prevent a disaster. We asked the experts for some quick tips to avoid winter home damage this year, so you can stay safe and cozy all season long.
Prevent chimney fires with the right wood.
Wood stoves and fireplaces cause more than 4,000 fires a year. And one of the top culprits is creosote, the unburned hydrocarbons in wood. “Creosote is highly flammable,” explains Russ Dimmitt of the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). “And the substance can build up when wood is too ‘wet.’” The fix: When buying it, look for wood labeled “seasoned” — this means it’s been dried out for at least a year. Using your own? You can tell if it’s seasoned when the bark is loose and the logs’ ends are cracked.
Also smart: Avoid tossing paper into your fireplace. Wrapping paper, cardboard, and newspaper can create too much heat, leading to a fire.
Avoid burst pipes with a slow drip.