Winter is the season in which your home is the most vulnerable to damage. Snow, sleet, freezing temperatures, ice storms… the hallmarks of winter tend to wreak havoc on a home that is unprepared for the onslaught.
While you can’t possibly forecast every winter-related home disaster, you can shield your home against the typical beating it can be expected to take in the upcoming months. Take care of your home properly so that you can rely on it to take care of you.
Shut off exterior valves. Flush and close all hose hookups and outdoor faucets to prevent them from freezing – and flooding your home or yard – as temperatures drop; coil and store all emptied garden hoses. Do this at the very beginning of the season when the days are not yet cold but the mercury dips to freezing at night.
Protect outdoor furnishings. Bring in or securely cover all outdoor furniture, toys, and other items that are susceptible to cold and water damage.
Trim your trees. Cut off dead or fragile branches; weed out dying trees. Weak branches are the first to fly off in high winds or stormy weather and can damage roofs and windows.
Clean the gutters. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear of leaves and debris to prevent clogging and allow rainwater and snow to flow through unhindered.
Check for breaches. Do a thorough inventory of all windows, doors, siding, roofing, and flashing on your home to ensure that they are unbroken and will stand up to harsh weather conditions. Check for cracks, wear, and holes and replace or repair accordingly.
Check weather stripping. Carefully inspect all weather stripping around windows and doors. Proper weather stripping will not only keep the elements out, it will keep the heat in (thereby reducing heating bills).
Get your fireplace ready. If you are fortunate enough to have a fireplace, make sure that it’s prepared. Stock up on firewood, clean the chimney, and check the flue.
Test your carbon monoxide alarm, especially if you regularly use the fireplace.
Prepare for emergencies. Stock your home with emergency supplies: first aid kits, medication, bottled water, non-perishable food, flashlights and batteries. Get your supply ready before the first storm is forecasted to beat the rush and ensure that your stores don’t run out of the things you need.
Get out your winter gear. Check your salt supply for sidewalks and driveways, clean and test your snowblower and generator, and make sure your snow shovels are in working order. Get winter gear – coats, hats, gloves, scarves, boots – for every member of your family and keep them readily available.
Service your heating system. You don’t want to turn on the heat on the first cold day just to find that it doesn’t work! Make sure yours is ready for the winter – before it gets cold out there.
Winterize the house. Change screen doors and window screens to storm door and windows where necessary; reverse ceiling fan blades to push the warm air down and cut heating costs.
Are you ready for the winter? What’s the worst wintertime disaster your house has weathered? Tell us about it in the comments!