We love snow as much as the next gal. Watching the first winter flurry cover rooftops and blanket city streets in a layer of pristine white is breathtaking. But if you don’t properly prepare for winter, the snow we adore so much can also wreak havoc on your home. We’re talking skyrocketing heat and gas bills to frozen pipes and flooded basements. So before your holiday guests arrive, here’s a personal checklist for a home ready to face the winter weather.
1. Gut the Gutters
It may not be the most glamorous task, but a gutter clogged with leaves, grime, and debris can cause ice dams that prevent your drainage system from working when the heavy snow comes your way. This can cause water to seep into your home or cause other water damage that’ll be inconvenient (and expensive) to fix during the winter. After you clear out your gutter gunk, make sure you also run water through the gutters to check for misalignment that can also cause leaking. You also want to reposition your gutters during the winter time. Extend your gutter out about four feet, so when water tricks down, it doesn’t splash against the side of your house, which can cause damage to the foundation or leak into your basement. Yikes!
2. Keep Out the Cold
This may be the most obvious tip, but it’s also the most important, so we’re listing it anyway. If you feel cold air leaks coming in through the cracks, buy self-adhesive insulation strips, also known as weatherstrip tape, and stick it right on the doorframe. Also check around your windows. Caulk from years before may have dissipated. You’ll want to re-caulk those openings, but remember to only caulk the outside perimeters, not the windows themselves.
3. Review the Roof
The winter is the most common time to get roof damage. Keep an eye out for missing shingles or holes since this is how water will leak into your home after it snows. Make sure your roof structure is sturdy enough to hold heavy snowfall, and if your roof is flat, make sure to blow off any leaves, dust, or other debris caught up there. Check and repair breaks in the flashing seals around vent stacks and chimneys, too.
4. Forgo Frozen Pipes
A pipe burst can devastate a home and cost a lot to repair, which is especially frustrating because it’s an accident that’s so simple to prevent! Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining the water that remains in faucets. If you live in an older home without frost-proof faucets, you should also turn off the shut-off valve inside your home. The next thing you’ll want to do is measure the diameter of the pipes you’re working with and make a trip to your local hardware store and buy foam insulation wide enough to accommodate the pipes. Once you place the insulation over the pipe… that’s it!
5. Call a Chimney Sweep
Before you burn the good ol’ Yule log, it’s important to make sure your fireplace, chimney, and vents are cleaned out and in great shape. Residue from obstructions like birds nests, leaves, or debris can cause chimney fires or carbon monoxide poisoning when you go to light your fireplace. Our opinion? Consult an expert. Hiring a certified chimney sweep can cost between $150-$300, but it’s a price worth clean lungs and a safe home if you ask us. Another quick energy-saving tip: Make it a habit to shut the flue after the fireplace has cooled to keep warm air in and cool air out.
6. Stock the Garage
Most winter scares and accidents come from the inability to grab the resources you need when it’s blizzard-ing out and you’re trapped at home. Make sure you stock your garage with essentials like extra salt for the driveway and extra gasoline for your snowblower and/or cars. Extra snow shovels, gloves, and an ice pick are great to have on hand as well, and it never hurts to have some extra bottled water in case of an emergency.
7. Change Out the Drapery
Leaving your curtains open during the day and drawing your curtains closed when the sun goes down is a simple (but often forgotten!) way to help retain heat in your home during winter. Now’s also the time to switch out your drapery for heavier fabrics, or even a thermal insulate if you live somewhere extra frosty.
Do you have any home prep tasks you do before the winter? Let us know in the comment section below.