- If you have oil heat make sure the oil tank stays filled. Outside tanks should have a wind-break or enclosure to prevent freezing. Have the oil company add a thinner to the oil to prevent the lines from clogging in extreme cold.
- Make sure boilers and furnaces have been cleaned and serviced - once every two years for gas, every year for oil heat.
- Keep an eye out for ice dams. Your attic should not be warm at this time of year. Add ventilation and insulation to attic and heat cables to roof if needed.
- Check doors and windows for drafts.
- Make sure the garage door is closed when you leave the house.
- Close the fireplace damper if not in use. Wood burning fireplaces will not normally heat the home but wood or pellet stoves will.
- Make sure you have enough smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and that the batteries are fresh.
- Pay attention to water supply pipes located on exterior areas of your home. Even when located inside the walls or in the attic the pipes can freeze and crack in extreme cold, causing flooding (see picture). You can let the water drip from a faucet to help prevent freezing, add heat tape to pipes, or insulate the pipes.
- Now would be a good time to make sure you have a service contract for your heating system.
- You'll want to make sure you know a good plumber too, just in case your pipes freeze.
- If you have a hydronic heating system its possible that you have water pipes in your attic. If so consult a heating contractor about the possibility of adding anti-freeze to your system.
Welcome to winter - now's a good time to review cold weather precautions for homeowners:
Attention home shoppers: be aware of a homes layout or anything that does not seem to mesh well in the structure - it could be a sign of a major remodel or that an addition that was added to the home.
Home additions or major projects (like a kitchen remodel, addition of a fireplace, etc.) merit further investigation. You will want to check with local government ("Town Hall") to make sure the proper permits were applied for before construction started and that the project was completed and approved (often called a "certificate of occupancy" or "CO"). There should be a record on file at Town Hall listing the correct square footage of the home, number of rooms, etc. If this information on file does not match the actual house footprint it is a good sign that work was done without permits.
Buying a home where space was added or revised without getting the proper paperwork and in-progress inspections could lead to problems in the future. Construction may have been done by the home owner or an unlicensed contractor without adhering to code or standard building practices. Components (like electrical work) may be unsafe and now hidden behind walls and not visible for evaluation. Missing permits could also affect the sale of the home in the future when you are ready to sell it. Buyers may balk at purchasing a 2500 square foot house listed on official records as a 1200 square foot home.
Things to watch out for while home shopping that may point to lack of proper or missing permits:
Ask your lawyer for guidance, in most cases you can call or visit Town Hall to get the information you need. Make sure the work was done correctly and that the correct paperwork is on file and is a true reflection of the home and its value.
Termites found in Connecticut are eastern subterranean termites. They are able to live here in freezing weather by living underground or in the framing of houses. Colonies can be found as deep as 30 feet below ground. They are normally not seen and are found by observing the damage they have done to your home
Besides wood termites feed on wood based items such as paper, books, boxes, etc. They do not sleep and are active and feeding 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
These wood destroying insects can enter your house through the smallest of cracks. It is important not to have any wooden areas of your house in contact with the ground – it is an entry point for the colony. Termites are attracted to wet wood and dark areas.
Many pest control companies in this area offer low-cost inspections for termites and other wood-destroying insects (carpenter ants, carpenter bees, and powder-post beetles). It is recommended to have a wood destroying insect inspection performed on a home before purchase, and some financial institutions that finance home purchases may require it. When obtaining a government backed loan (VA, FHA, etc.) for a home these pest inspections are normally required and need to be performed by a licensed contractor (with a pesticides license).
Termites swarm in the spring, flying to find a mate and form new colonies. You may find the winged insects near windows since they are looking for a pathway outdoors. Finding swarmers inside your house is an indication a colony may exist inside the framing.
Besides swarmers other signs of termites are mud colored tubes on foundation walls or wood framing, or damage to basement framing, usually at the sill plates or rim joists (see picture).
There are a number of "fixes" that can decrease the likelihood of ice dams on your roof. The trick is to try to keep the attic and eaves at a similar temperature as the roof and not to warm up the attic in the winter:
Allied Home Inspections LLC inspects attics, attic ventilation, and insulation as part of a Connecticut home inspection.
Any home with a well in Connecticut should have the water tested before purchase, and yearly thereafter. While processing should be done by a certified lab the samples can be drawn by the homeowner, plumber, well contractor, or a home inspector. For a real estate transaction the water samples should not be taken by the seller or the buyer.
Sampling guidelines have changed over the years - fifteen years ago it was normal to test the water only for bacteria (potability). If no bacteria was found in the sample it was considered "drinkable" and of no further concern.
Today's standards are different as people become more cognizant of multiple environmental hazards and pollutants that can affect drinking water. In this area, while rare, well water samples have tested positive for arsenic, uranium, and other contaminants.
I recommend, at a minimum, that you have the water tested for the following before drinking:
Of lesser health concern, but important from a functional standpoint, would be testing for the following contaminants:
The State of Connecticut Department of Public Health has published a guide for testing your well water that should be reviewed by homeowners with a well.