Winter can be beautiful, but it can also wreak havoc on your home. In 2019, the United States experienced $7.4 billion in winter damage, and only $2.1 billion was covered under insurance. Whenever the cold season is approaching quickly, it makes sense to begin preparing your home.
Follow these 10 tips to make sure your home is ready for winter.
1. Prepare Your Yard
Before the ground freezes, go around the outside of your home and mark the perimeters of your driveway, walkway, flowerbeds and yard. This way, when it snows, you can clearly see the divided sections of your property. Also, use this time to trim branches and cut down dead trees that might fall under the weight of heavy snowfall.
2. Install A Wi-Fi Thermostat
Utilize modern technology by installing a Wi-Fi thermostat to control the temperature in your house. This will help you keep the temperature steady. It will also send you an alert if the temperature in your house suddenly drops or spikes.
3. Insulate Pipes
Water freezes at 32°F, so it’s essential that any plumbing in unheated areas is properly insulated. Use pipe insulation and heat cable to keep pipes from freezing.
If you use a water softener to reduce pipe buildup, your water may freeze at lower temperatures. Salt is an essential part of the water softening process, and the more you add, the longer it will take to freeze. In any event, the bare minimum is to protect your pipes to reduce the risk of bursts or cracks occurring during the winter.
4. Practice Cold Snap Procedures
If your area experiences a cold snap or a period of sudden extremely low temperatures, use extra steps to reduce the likelihood of frozen pipes. Specifically, open cabinet doors and utilize electric heaters in areas with extensive plumbing. These extra measures will protect you against cracks or bursts from freezing pipes.
If you intend to go away during the winter, turn off your water in advance to reduce the damage if your pipes happen to freeze while you are away.
5. Empty The Gutters
Blockages in your gutters can cause water to back up and freeze — and this can lead to ice dams and extensive housing damage. Clean your gutters and check for places that might need to be replaced. Make sure the water from the gutters is diverted away from the house so it doesn’t cause foundation problems. In some instances it may be broken beyond repair, in which case it may be time to replace it with new guttering.
6. Repair Roof Damage
Inspect your roof and look in the attic for signs of leaks or water damage. Snow, ice and rain will exacerbate any roof problems. Ensure your roof can handle the weight of winter weather by replacing shingles and repairing cracks in advance.
7. Inspect For Cracks
Cracks next to doors and windows can allow cold air to enter your home. Fill these cracks, use weather strips or place other physical barriers to improve insulation and keep the heat indoors.
8. Turn Off Outdoor Faucets
Turn off outdoor faucets and disconnect all your hoses. Be sure to drain the pipes and hoses so there’s no remaining water to freeze and cause cracks. Hoses can be damaged if left outdoors, so after they have been drained, bring them inside for the season.
9. Service Your Chimney
Call a licensed chimney service professional to come and clean your chimney. You will likely be using your fireplace and furnace extensively during the winter months, so you must ensure it’s in working order. Dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires, which can endanger the residents and damage the home.
10. Stock Up On Winter Essentials
Now that you’ve adjusted your house to prepare for the winter season, the last thing you must do is stock up on the essentials you will need to maintain your home.
Use rock salt to keep your walkways from icing over and make sure you have a shovel or snowblower to clean off your driveway. Test your sump pump in case water floods your basement and buy a backup generator to prepare, should the electricity goes out.
Plan For A Safe Season
The key to enjoying the winter season is strategic planning. Utilize these 10 tips to ensure your house is prepared for any winter weather. By following these suggestions, you can reduce the chances of damage and enjoy warmth and safety inside your home.
Emily is a freelance writer, covering conservation and sustainability. You can read her blog, Conservation Folks, for more of her work.