Winter emergencies are unpredictable, overwhelming and disruptive, especially in the Northeast. Often, the source of the affliction is hard to pin down, as is the extent of the damage. That is why calling a trusted professional is the best way to save your time, your property and your money. Lori Topiel, COIT’s co-owner, spoke with Suburban Family to provide an essential guide to prepare for a critical situation.
It is overwhelming to face a never-before-experienced trauma, and conferring with a proficient and compassionate technician allows for a level-headed analysis of how to get your home – and life – back to normal as soon as possible. In most cases, the extent of the damage isn’t visible to the untrained eye and an experienced professional is required to ensure a quick, reliable solution.
“Our trained and certified technicians are great problem solvers,” Topiel says. “It's tricky, because sometimes water looks like it's just a quarter of the basement, but really, it's behind the woodwork, it's behind the walls or under furniture. So the extent of damage isn’t always known.”
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and that is why Topiel recommends bracing your home for winter before it’s too late.
“Disasters are year-round, but a lot of times winter brings on special things like ice dams, frozen pipes, or pipe bursts when it gets cold,” she says.
Having a reliable team on call at all hours gives you peace of mind. Topiel says, "prepare yourself for the winter weather and add our number in your contacts now so when you need us It's a matter of pushing a few buttons on your cell." Topiel emphasizes the gravity of acting upon an emergency right away before it gets much worse.
COIT's team recommends following this checklist in order to better prepare for disasters to your home this winter and all year long:
Inspect and Clean Gutters
Ensure your gutters are free of debris to prevent ice damming, which can cause water to back up and damage your home.
Check Roof for Damage
Inspect your roof for missing, damaged, or worn shingles and repair as necessary to prevent water leakage.
Insulate exposed pipes in crawl spaces, attics, and outside walls to prevent them from freezing and bursting.
Seal Windows and Doors
Check for drafts around windows and doors. Use weatherstripping or caulk to seal any gaps to keep the cold out and the heat in.
Service Your Heating System
Have a professional inspect and service your furnace or heating system to ensure it's operating efficiently and safely.
Inspect and Clean the Chimney
If you have a fireplace, ensure the chimney is clean and in good repair to prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Check Batteries in Programmable Thermostat
This can help maintain a consistent temperature in your home, reducing the risk of pipes freezing.
Drain Exterior Water Lines
Shut off and drain outdoor faucets and irrigation systems to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.
Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, replacing batteries if needed.
Check Sump Pump
Make sure your sump pump is in good working order to prevent basement flooding.
Trim Trees and Branches
Remove overhanging tree limbs and dead branches that could fall under the weight of snow or ice and damage your home.
Stock Up on Winter Supplies
Have snow shovels, salt, or ice melt on hand to manage snow and ice around your property.
Review Your Insurance Policy
Ensure your homeowner's insurance is up-to-date and covers winter-related damages. Of course, emergencies are not always predictable, and that is why you should have familiarity with your insurance policy and what it covers. COIT works with your insurance company to find a solution, but insurance can differ from one plan or company to another. Regardless, COIT keeps their clients informed every step of the way, empathizing with what is inevitably a tumultuous situation.
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Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 7.
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