Get your home ready for winter’s wrath with these top winter preparedness tips!
We love winter! With hot cocoa, snowmen, and crackling fires, it’s one of the best times of the year. Unfortunately, this season can be one of the most dangerous with incredible storms, freezing temperatures, and...well, crackling fires. Get your home ready for the harsh weather with these top winter preparedness tips!
Inspect your property
Tree limbs and branches can fall on service lines, damage your roof and give critters a way into your home. Make a note of the branches you need to trim. If any are in a precarious position, contact a professional to remove, and always call a professional to handle jobs outside your comfort or ability zone.
Visually check up on the rooftop
Ice dams can cause some serious damage to your home by sending water under your roof’s shingles and into your attic or crawlspace. Rather than dealing with the expensive water damage, prevent ice dams from forming with these quick home maintenance tasks:
- Clear your gutters in late fall/early winter after the leaves fall to prevent clogs from forming
- Clean your downspouts and make sure they’re sending water away from your home
- Complete a visual inspection of your roof
- Check your eaves and attic for any damp spots or damage
- Invest in a snow rake to clear any heavy snow that settles during the season
If you see any issues with your roof, such as missing shingles, call a professional immediately.
Don’t step on or leave a crack
If your walkways and driveway are already cracked, then snow and ice can get inside and expand the gaps. A simple patching mix and bonding agent can help fill the cracks and strengthen the integrity of your property’s busy areas.
Be prepared for the s-word
As fun as snow can be, having it arrive when you are unprepared isn't enjoyable at all. Is your snow blower working? Are your shovels in working order? Do you have enough pet-friendly ice melt? Check your supplies now and replace or reorder as needed. Also, inspect your railings. In the event of a slippery surface, it’s a good idea to have a sturdy place to grab.
Clean your fireplace
A clogged or dirty fireplace can easily lead to a house fire or carbon monoxide poisoning, so schedule a professional inspection and cleaning annually. Also, be safe when using a fireplace and practice proper safety precautions, such as keeping fireplace tools stored, never leaving your fireplace unattended, and only using dry wood in a wood fireplace. (Wet wood can create additional soot and creosote buildup, which is also a fire hazard.)
Change your air filters
You got your furnace inspected and serviced in the fall, right? (If you didn’t, do so now!) Then keep on top of HVAC maintenance by cleaning or replacing those air filters as needed. You’ll not only keep your system running efficiently and safely, but also keep pet dander and dust out of the air.
Replace your insulation (as needed)
Poor insulation can lead to many issues in your home, including ice dams, mold, and cold toes. While insulation can last a long time, annual checks and upkeep can lower your utility bills and keep your home warm.
If you see the ceiling joints, it's time to add more. Insulation can be harmful to your lungs and skin, so it’s best to hire a professional to install new insulation to existing.
If you’ve recently moved into an older home, it’s a good idea to have your insulation checked for proper thickness and R-value. (Each type of insulation is rated with an R-value, which indicates how well it prevents the movement of heat.)
Flip the switch on your ceiling fan
Reversing your fans during winter is a great way to save money on heating as it keeps the warm air where you need it most. By flipping a switch, your fan should rotate clockwise and recirculate the heat around the room. This is exceptionally important for living areas with high or vaulted ceilings, where hot air can linger.
Check your sump pump
Sump pumps are essential to preventing water damage, so it’s imperative to make sure they’re working properly. A simple way to test your sump pumps is to add water to them and see if they turn on. You should also have a back-up battery attached to it, just in case the lights go out. If you haven’t had your sump pumps inspected or cleaned in a few years, it’s time to hire a professional.
Get ready for a power outage
As the demand for power increases, so does the number of power outages. Be prepared to endure at least one power outage this season by putting together an emergency kit. Your kit should include non-perishable food and water (one gallon per person per day) for at least three days.
Don’t forget to include following items in your kit:
- Chargers (for phones)
- First aid kit
- Toiletries and personal hygiene supplies
- Protective gear
- Warm clothing
If you took any of these items out during the year, replace them and make sure your current food and batteries are in date. You may also want to consider a generator, which can help to keep your home warm and the water flowing through your pipes.
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