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We're Located in Bellevue, WA

Winter 2008

Tips to Winterize Your Home

It's that time of year again to prepare our residences for the winter months and the possibility of freezing temperatures. A few extra precautions now can avoid a big expense and a lot of inconvenience later if we should be hit with a sudden cold snap. Frozen pipes and a possible flood from a burst pipe are not happy situations when they happen to you and your belongings. Your Rental Agreement states that Tenants are responsible to "...use best efforts to protect the plumbing from freezing ..."

If you fail to take precautions, you may also be held financially responsible for damage to the Landlord's property.

It's important that all residents plan ahead and follow these simple guidelines:

  • Keep your unit/home heated to at least 60 degrees during the winter months. Do not turn the heat off if you leave on vacation. If you are to be away for any length of time, a neighbor should be asked to inspect your home and to see that all precautions are being taken ..OR..turn off the water and drain the pipes.
  • All outside water faucets should be shut off prior to the winter season and all hoses should be disconnected. Faucets should be covered with insulated covers.
  • Temperatures that fall below 20 degrees, particularly when accompanied by strong winter winds, dramatically increase the possibility of frozen water pipes. Pipes don't necessarily burst the first time they freeze. Sometimes it takes several freezes and thaws before damage occurs. When sub-freezing temperatures begin, adjust the water flow on those indoor faucets on outside walls so lukewarm water will drip slowly, involving both hot and cold water pipes.
  • Water pipes under the kitchen and bathroom sinks are particularly vulnerable during a hard freeze. Sink cabinet doors should be opened to allow the heat from the home to circulate in that area.
  • During times of extreme cold temperatures, all faucets should be checked before retiring and again in the morning.

SHOULD A PIPE FREEZE, you can thaw an inside pipe with a good hair dryer. Do not use an open flame!

SHOULD A PIPE BURST, take the following steps immediately:

  • The water to the home/unit should be shut off immediately. If the break is in the hot water pipe, the valve on top of the hot water heater should be closed. It is very important that all residents take the time to learn beforehand the location of the water valves that effect their unit.
  • Notify America's Home Caretakers immediately at 425-401-9450. If it's after business hours, or on the weekend, have your Property Manager's pager number handy for any emergency that can not wait until morning. During an area-wide emergency such as a major storm or earthquake, telephone and/or electrical lines may be down. Do what you can to limit the damage to your home/unit. Fire Departments as well as plumbers can assist with emergency water damage. However, if yours is one of many dwellings to suffer from broken plumbing, you may have to wait for days, or in an extreme case ... weeks, for emergency assistance to reach you. Do what you can to minimize the damage to your home/unit and keep trying to get help if you need it.

Frozen or burst pipes are not the only maintenance/safety issues we need be concerned with during the winter months. The following list of reminders may help you get through the cold months with ease and comfort. Please follow those instructions that apply to your dwelling.

  • Check your furnace filters. A clean filter will provide maximum, clean heat. Filters should be changed every 3 months while the furnace is being used.
  • Before using your fireplace, call Puget Sound Burn Ban line at 800-595-4341 to check if a burn ban is in place. They assess a stiff fine for violating the ban. If fires are permitted, make sure you burn seasoned wood to prevent crosote buildup in your chimney. Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended.
  • Be SURE to keep ALL items away from your heat panels. Even if the control says OFF, the panel will still come on if it becomes too cold.
  • Clean moss and leaves from decks and patios to avoid slippery accidents.
  • Rake and compost leaves and garden debris, or put out for yard-waste pickup. Weed bedding areas as necessary.
  • Review your renters insurance. If you don't have any, think about what you have to lose. Call your car insurance for an inexpensive renters insurance policy as stated in you Rental Agreement, page 5, paragraph 25.

Eveveryone at America's Home Caretakers Wishes You a Happy & Safe Winter!