Because I am a native Arizonan, the snow and the cold and indoor heating were all foreign to me growing up. But then I moved to the icy mountains of Utah and suddenly my lack of knowledge of winter prep became a problem. Who knew what to do when your windshield froze over during the night? Thank goodness for kind friends and strangers that took the time to help a poor Arizona girl figure out winter. So here are some winter tips for your home, so that you can rest assured your house will be safe and warm all winter long. For a full checklist see the bottom of this article on home winter prep.
- Roof – Make sure there are no leaks or damage before the winter season even begins. This will save you a collapsed roof that could come from excessive snow, extreme cold temperatures, or failed previous repairs. Just like cyclical 6-month check-ups happen with your dentist to prevent cavities, check-ups on your roof can keep your whole home happier and healthier.
- Gutters – Clean-up time! Or clean out time for your gutters. Your gutters are your main drainage option, and drainage is VITAL to surviving a snowy winter. So clear out the matted leaves, the soccer balls that never were retrieved, anything obstructing the water flow path, and make sure the drainage drop-off site is clear. You cannot forget this step in your winter prep.
- Ice Dam Prevention – Ice dams happen when there are varying roof surface temperatures, which can happen through air leakage from the house into the attic, etc. Heat will escape through the roof in one patch, causing snow to melt there, but as it runs down, it hits cold patches and freezes over, thus creating an ice dam. Check the house/attic insulation and the attic/roof insulation and patch up any leaks. As pretty as icicles are, I’m pretty sure we are fine with them not falling on our heads.
- Walkways – Nobody likes slipping on an icy path, so prep beforehand with a walkdown of your walkways. Look for cracks in the sidewalk or driveway that are larger than ⅛ inch. Clean off stains and seal your driveway to protect it from future cracks throughout and after the winter season. Pay attention to loose gravel or loose material from disintegration and to loose steps/railings or uneven footing. This might prevent a broken limb or two.
- Indoor Heaters – If we need a yearly physical, so do our heaters. Give them a tune-up (and early on) to prevent any mid-season heating disasters, and to avoid being the last on the list for repair appointments. A semi-faulty heater can cost hundreds of extra dollars over the course of the winter season, without you even reaping the benefits of a properly heated home. So take the time and preventative measures beforehand; it’s worth it.
- Filters – There are generally two kinds: replaceable and permanent. With either kind of filter experts recommend a filter change or at least check-up once a month. A dirty filter can clog up the air flow from your furnace, making it harder for your heating system to work. This means more energy expended, which is more money on your electric bill. Save the cash and replace your filters, or spend a little more in the beginning and get a permanent filter and set down a washing schedule.
- Insulation – Insulation can do wonders for the inside and outside of your home. Like I mentioned, proper attic insulation can save you from ice dams forming on your roof. It can also save you lots of money on your electric bill because you will be saving energy; the two most popular methods are caulking and weather stripping.
- Draft Guards – It might seem like a small thing, but small things can go a long way. Putting a draft guard in on your doors can make a big difference in keeping out that cold air and making it easier for your house to heat up and STAY warm.
- Pipes – This is the classic winter nightmare: frozen pipes. You can avoid it by always keeping a little bit of water dripping through your pipes, and by shutting off any excess water pipes or hoses. Do this for your irrigation and sprinkler systems as well. Click here for a more detailed explanation of how to avoid frozen pipes. Forgetting this step in your winter prep could cost you thousands and a freezing house.
- Ceiling Fan – You may be thinking, what in the world do ceiling fans have to do with winterizing my home? Don’t we not use fans in the winter? I thought the same thing, but this tip has popped up on every winterizing article I have read. Run your ceiling fan in reverse. Apparently a clockwise turning fan will spread the warm air throughout the room and make it feel even warmer without you having to crank up the heat.
- Summer Storage – Extra couches, pool appliances, lawn mower, etc. Find a company like Neighbor and store it all away to save space and to keep them in good condition. It is cost-efficient and will save you wear-and-tear on your favorite summer items.
Take care of your home; it’s where the heart is. And it’s where you can stay warm, where your kids grow up, where you feel safe. There is no limit when it comes to protecting what you love, and that’s why we want you to keep your home warm and happy this winter and for all the winters to come.
Start early! Go through your fall and winter prep checklist and get ahead on the appointment lists for heater tune-ups and roof repairing. It is a lot less stressful to get it done BEFORE the cold-weather crisis. For whatever kind of winter you face, it’s never a bad idea to keep up on home maintenance and to be prepared for whatever life throws at you.