How to Prep Your Home for the Winter

As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, there can be no mistaking that winter is on its way. Some parts of the country have already been blanketed by the first snows of the season. In order to create a safe and cozy home during the winter, you will have to prepare now.

Once the snow is flying thick, it is too late to prepare your home and property for the long winter season. In the same way, as you would change the tires on your car in the fall, your home will need special attention to prepare it for winter’s deep freeze.

Getting your furnace checked by professionals like 888 Heating and making sure that your landscaping has been turned under for the season are just parts of prepping your home for the cold. Let’s take a closer look at a few tips to help you prep your home for winter.

Wrap Your Pipes

There is nothing more frustrating and potentially damaging to your home than allowing your plumbing pipes to freeze in the cold winter weather. Water that is held in your pipes ready to use can easily freeze if they are not properly insulated. Frozen water in your pipes will expand and have the potential to burst, creating a flood in your home.

Any pipes that you have that run along the outside walls of your home are prone to freezing. Pipe insulation is affordable and easy to install, and available at most hardware stores. It looks just like a pool noodle with a slit down the length so that you can easily fit it into your exposed pipes. If you are going to be away from your home for several days, it can be helpful to leave at least one or two of your taps partially open to help prevent freezing.

Prune Your Trees

Winter storms can be very damaging to your home. It’s a good idea to take a look around your property, especially your trees, and identify where the hazards may be. Any trees that have overhanging branches that could put your roof at risk should be trimmed back before winter. Keep an eye on branches that may interfere with your power lines and ensure they are properly pruned. Look in all your trees to identify any dead branches that need to be removed as they are likely to fall and cause damage during a winter storm.

Clean Your Gutters

After the fall shed, your gutters may be full and partially clogged with dead leaves and debris. Using a tall ladder and some hearty work gloves, you can scoop out any leaves and debris from your gutters. Your gutters will need to be clean to allow snowmelt to safely drain off of your roof to avoid icicles or dangerous ice dams. If you are unsure on a ladder, it may be better to call in a handy person to take care of this chore. Always have a helper holding the bottom of the ladder for you.

Lock Maintenance

In the winter, it’s not unusual to find that your house locks have frozen. With the rapid change in temperatures during the winter, moisture can get inside your locks and then freeze when the temperatures drop at night. To avoid getting stranded outside in the cold, you can treat your locks with a squirt of powdered-graphite lubricant to prevent the mechanism from freezing. You can get this lubricant at most hardware stores or shop for it online.

Drain Your Sprinklers

If you have an automatic sprinkler system for your landscaping, it’s wise to drain the system before the cold weather hits. Any water that is left in the lines can potentially freeze and cause a rupture of the pipes. This could create a huge flooding problem in the spring. To drain your sprinkler system, turn off your water and locate the lowest drain release to empty the pipes.

Garden Maintenance

While leaving your ornamental grasses unpruned for the winter can be attractive, the rest of your perennials should be cut back to protect them from the harsh weather. Proper pruning of your perennial plants will encourage healthier growth in the spring. Using your garden pruners, you should trim your plants down until they are only two to three inches above the soil. This will help you to keep your winter garden neat and eliminate dead growth that could encourage insect infestation.

Before the deep cold of winter arrives, you should add a thick layer of mulch to your garden beds. This will help add nutrients necessary for spring growth and protect your annuals from the cold weather. Without the right insulation, the root systems of your favorite perennials could be damaged and die.

Fireplace Cleaning

There is nothing better than enjoying a glowing fire on a winter’s eve. However, if you use your fireplace regularly in the winter, now is the time to get it cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep. The build-up of soot and creosote could create a dangerous environment and the risk of a chimney fire. When you clean out your fireplace, keep your ashes for your spring garden as the nutrients can be used as an effective fertilizer.

Furnace Inspection

Your furnace is an essential part of your home during the winter. Keeping your home and family warm during the coldest months of the year is critical. In the fall, you need to call in a professional furnace or boiler inspector to take a look at your system. Your technician will inspect the burners, coils, fan system and replace your filter. Furnace inspections will help to ensure that your furnace is operating safely and efficiently.

It’s important to check the condition of your furnace filter monthly. If you notice a buildup of dirt and dust, or the color has started to turn brownish, it’s time to switch out your filter. A filter with ridges is the best choice. The ridges provide more surface area with which to catch particles than a flat filter.

Ceiling Fans

During the summer, your ceiling fans can help to keep your home cool by circulating the air throughout your home. In the winter, you can use your ceiling fans to help keep your home warm. You need to change the direction of your fan for the best results. In the summer, you want the airflow to be directed towards the floor. But, in the winter, you want to draw the warm air up towards the ceiling to distribute the warm air from your vents evenly.

Seal Your Drafts

Very few homes are completely draft-free. Small crevices around your baseboards and windows can allow air to get into your home. In the winter, if you can feel a cold draft at your feet or when you are sitting near a window, you may need to seal up a draft. Cold drafts entering your home in the winter can be more than uncomfortable; they can force your heating system to work overtime to keep your home at the optimum temperature.

To seal your baseboards, use a candle to scan across the floor. When you see the candle flicker, you have located the draft spot. Using clear or white paintable caulking sealant, create a thin bead between your baseboards and your floor to seal the gap.

If your windows have a draft, you can use fabricated window insulation strips that you can get at any hardware store. These easy-to-use strips generally come in rolls and are self-adhesive. Run a strip around the outside of your windows to seal any drafts. You can remove the stripping in the spring.

Prep Your Tools

One of the most essential winter tools for your home is the snow shovel. Before the snow starts to fly, make sure that you have a snow shovel in good condition. Inspect your shovels for signs of wear, and make sure that the handle is securely screwed into place. Shovels with plastic blades can wear and crack, leaving you with no effective way to clear your snow. It’s better to buy a shovel with a metal blade that is more durable. For easy shoveling, you can spray the blade of your metal shovel with WD-40 to help snow slide out of your shovel easily.

For slippery spots on your driveway and front walkway, you need to invest in a bag of salt or sand. After shoveling, spread a few handfuls of salt or sand on the cleared area to prevent ice from forming and to give the area more traction.

Insulated Blinds

Sitting next to a window in the winter can give you a beautiful view of the snowy landscape, but it can also be a bit chilly. If you are losing heat through your windows or want to lower your energy bills, you need to add a layer of protection. Insulated blinds are a great way to ensure that your windows are not allowing cold air into your home. Insulated blinds are easy to install and are available in different styles and colors to match your decor.

Taking care of your winter prep chores may seem like a lot of work. However, they are an essential part of ensuring that your home and your family are properly protected for the winter season.