Ice, snow, cold rain, and freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on your home. As a result, homeowners that aren’t prepared for the winter season may need to make major repairs to their home once spring rolls around. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to protect your home from the harsh winter weather.
Follow these 50 tips:
Before You Begin…
- Review Your Homeowners’ Insurance Coverage
Take the time to review your homeowners’ insurance coverage before winter begins. It’s important to understand what your policy covers so you know whether or not to file a claim if something is damaged over the next several months.
Managing Your Home’s Gutters
- Clean the Gutters
Remove leaves, twigs, and other debris from your gutters so the snow on your roof has somewhere to go once it begins melting. If the gutters are clogged, snow may start to build up on your roof and eventually leak into your home.
- Use Gutter Guards
Keep the gutters clean throughout the winter by installing gutter guards, which are designed to prevent clogs by blocking leaves, twigs, and other debris.
- Direct Water Away From Your Home
Adjust the positioning of your downspouts to ensure that water is directed as far away as possible from your home. If the downspout pours water too close to your home, it could seriously damage the foundation.
- Remove Dead Tree Branches
Dead tree branches are not strong enough to support the weight of snow or ice, so they could break away from the rest of the tree during the winter. Protect your property—and the people on it—by removing these branches now.
Take Care of Your Pipes
- Install An Emergency Pressure Release Valve
Plumbing pipes can start to freeze in the winter, which leads to an increase in pressure. If the pressure is too high, the pipes will eventually burst. Keep your pipes intact by installing an emergency pressure release valve before the temperatures drop.
- Insulate Exposed Plumbing Pipes
Insulate the exposed pipes in your attic, basement, and garage to protect them from extreme temperatures. A little bit of insulation can pay off in a major way by preventing the pipes from freezing.
- Let Faucets Drip
Let a little bit of water drip from the faucets if the weather gets extremely cold. Letting the faucets drip can relieve the pressure inside the pipes so they do not burst.
- Drain the Pipes
Plumbing pipes can’t freeze if there’s no water running through the system. If you’re worried about your pipes freezing, shut off the main water valve and turn on every faucet in the house until the water stops running.
- Keep the Cabinet Doors Open
Keep the cabinet doors in your kitchen and bathroom open so the pipes under the sinks are exposed to the warmer air flowing through your home.
- Thaw Frozen Pipes At Once
If you see a frozen pipe, start to gradually thaw it as soon as possible to minimize the damage. Use a space heater, heating pad, or blow dryer to slowly thaw each section of the frozen pipe.
Protect Your Roof
- Make Necessary Roof Repairs
High winds can rip loose shingles off of your roof and create plenty of space for water or snow to creep into your home. Repair missing, loose, or curling shingles before the weather gets bad so you can prevent these problems.
- Insulate the Attic
The heat that escapes through your roof can melt patches of snow and cause ice dams to form, which can lead to significant water damage. To prevent this problem, add insulation to your attic floor so heat cannot escape through the roof.
- Remove Heat Sources in the Attic
Ceiling lights and heaters in your attic can produce enough heat to melt the snow on your roof, which can lead to the formation of ice dams. Remove these heat sources now so you can stop ice dams from forming before it’s too late.
- Purchase A Roof Rake
A roof rake is an expensive tool that is used to remove snow from your roof. Invest in a roof rake so you can ensure your roof is not damaged from the weight of several feet of snow.
- Keep Tarps Handy
Has your roof started to leak? If so, use a tarp as a temporary fix to protect your belongings and limit the damage until a repairman has arrived.
- Learn About Your Roof’s Limits
Did you know? Most roofs can hold up to four feet of new snow before showing signs of distress. Gain a better understanding of how your roof holds up under snow so you know when it’s time to call a professional for help.
Protect the Siding of Your Home
- Replace Damaged Siding and Flashing
Water can sneak into your home through the holes created by missing or damaged siding and flashing. Repair or replace the siding and flashing on your roof before winter starts to prevent these leaks.
- Repair Cracks in Brick or Stone
Inspect the exterior of your home to look for cracks in the brick or stone that need to be repaired. Water can get into these cracks and freeze once the temperatures drop, which can lead to significant damage.
- Secure the Shutters
Harsh winter weather can rip loose shutters from the exterior of your home. For this reason, it’s best to secure the shutters before the winter weather is an issue.
Protect the Inside of Your Home
- Keep the Heat On While You’re Away
It’s important to keep the inside of your home warm throughout the winter to prevent your pipes from freezing. This means the heat should remain on in the winter even if you’re not going to be at home.
- Purchase A Generator
Plumbing pipes will freeze if the heat is off for too long due to a power outage. Plan ahead by purchasing a generator so you can keep the heat running even when there’s a power outage in your neighborhood.
- Prevent Pests From Coming Inside
Mice and other pests may try to sneak inside your home to stay warm in the winter. Keep these uninvited guests out by sealing up small spaces that could be used as tunnels into your home.
- Move Furniture Away From Heat Sources
Furniture and drapes could catch fire if they are too close to heat sources such as vents, space heaters, and fires. Keep these items at a safe distance so your house does not go up in flames.
- Clean the Fireplace
Many homeowners rely on their fireplaces to keep them warm during the cold winter months. But, if the fireplace has not been properly cleaned, it could set your house on fire. Set a reminder to clean your fireplace in the next few weeks so it’s ready to be used all winter long.
- Use Fire Screens
Embers can fly out of the fireplace and into your home if the fireplace is not screened. Place a screen around the fireplace so you can warm up without worrying about starting a fire.
- Properly Dispose of Fireplace Ashes
It’s not safe to put ashes from the fireplace in the trashcan, so transport them outside of your home in a fireproof metal container instead.
- Reseal the Basement
Water can seep into your basement through cracks in the floor or foundation. Fortunately, this problem can be prevented by resealing the basement before the cold and wet season begins.
- Install A Sump Pump
Be prepared for a basement flood by installing a sump pump. A sump pump is a helpful tool that is used to quickly remove water that is pouring into your home.
- Upgrade to Storm Windows
Replace your existing windows with storm windows, which are designed to withstand higher winds and other harsh environmental elements.
- Raise Appliances Off of the Floor
Basement floods are common in the winter. Because of this, it’s best to move appliances that are located in the basement at least one foot off of the floor to prevent electrical problems.
- Test Your Smoke Detectors
Homeowners in the U.S. suffer billions of dollars in property losses due to winter home fires every year. Make sure your smoke detectors are working to ensure you are notified of a fire in your home as quickly as possible.
- Keep A Fire Extinguisher Handy
Since home fires are so common in the winter, it’s best to keep a fire extinguisher handy so you can quickly put out fires before they cause serious damage.
Prepare Your Yard
- Put Outdoor Hoses Away
Drain the water from your outdoor hoses before the temperatures start to drop. Then, detach them and keep them in storage until the spring so they do not freeze and burst in the winter.
- Shovel Snow Around Your Home’s Foundation
Keep an eye on the snow that is falling around your home’s foundation. If the snow starts to pile up, focus on clearing this area first to keep your foundation safe.
- Use the Right De-Icing Products
Some de-icing products contain harmful chemicals that can damage concrete or pavers. Traction sand is a safer choice that will not harm your driveway or your four-legged friends.
- Avoid Using Metal Snow Shovels
Metal or metal-tipped snow shovels can scratch the surface of concrete and pavers. Use wood, plastic, or rubber-edged shovels instead to protect these surfaces.
- Put Outdoor Items Away
High winds can pick up items that are left outdoors and throw them against your home or through your windows. Store these items safely inside your garage, shed, or home to prevent damage.
- Check Your Yard’s Grading
Work with a landscaper to level your front and backyard. If the ground is sloped towards your home, water from melted snow could settle in around your foundation and cause serious damage.
- Seal Windows and Doors
Water can settle into the tiny holes and cracks around your windows and doors and freeze once the temperature drops, which can cause a great deal of damage. Apply caulk and weatherstripping to seal these tiny holes and cracks before they lead to bigger problems.
- Don’t Over-Shovel the Patio
Snow shoveling can scrape or scratch the surface of the wood on your patio, which is why it’s best not to overdo it. Experts usually recommend that homeowners only shovel the snow on their porch when it has climbed higher than the deck rails.
- Sweep the Porch in Advance
Snow may start to accumulate on your porch in the winter. If the snow falls on top of leaves and other debris, it will trap moisture against the wood and lead to damage. Sweep the debris off of your porch now to avoid problems in the winter.
- Use A Garage Mat
Lay a garage mat down in your garage so the chemicals, snow, and ice on your car’s tires do not damage the concrete garage floor.
- Repair Deteriorated Mortar Joints on the Chimney
The mortar on your chimney will start to deteriorate over time. Identify and replace areas with deteriorated mortar so water and snow cannot sneak into your home through these open cracks.
- Cover the Pool
No one will be using the pool in the winter, so keep it covered until spring has arrived. A pool cover will keep the pool free from debris that will be blowing around in the high winter winds.
- Protect Outdoor Electrical Outlets
Inspect the covers on your outdoor electrical outlets to make sure they are not damaged or loose. Broken or damaged covers should be replaced to protect the outlets from water damage.
- Winterize the Sprinkler System
Use an air compressor machine to blow the air out of your outdoor irrigation system. Winterizing the sprinkler system will ensure your sprinklers and underground piping are not damaged in the winter.
- Paint and Seal Exterior Wood
The wood trim on the exterior of your home is not strong enough to withstand extreme temperatures, ice, and snow. Apply a fresh layer of sealant to this wood now so it survives the winter.
- Cover Outdoor Patio Furniture
Winter weather can damage patio furniture, so keep these items covered with durable tarps until spring. Be sure to cover the furniture on a dry, warm day so you don’t accidentally trap moisture inside.
- Mark Walkways, Flowerbeds, and Driveways
Are you hiring a professional to plow or shovel your driveway? If so, use snow poles to clearly mark walkways, flowerbeds, and driveways. This ensures the professional knows what areas should be plowed and which should be left alone.
Winter is right around the corner, so there’s no time to waste when it comes to preparing your home for the harsh weather ahead. Follow these tips so your home can make it to the spring season without sustaining any damage!