How to Prepare Your Home For The Winter Weather Coming Our Way

Posted by Kelly Holck on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018 at 1:08pm.

Homeowners, especially first timers, often times don't realize there is a lot of preparation that goes into getting your home ready for the cooler temperatures ahead.

Therefore, I've put together a checklist made up of suggestions from several different reliable websites on what you should be doing before snow blankets the world.

***Before beginning to check things off your list, call your insurance provider to be sure that anything that happens to your home once cold weather hits is covered***



Photo courtesy of Instagram user @ngeheniau - this is what he found at home after a few days away.
 

First, I'm going to go over what to do inside your home to prepare for cold weather:

  • Switch out your summer screen doors for heavier, winter-proof (storm) doors
  • While you're switching out your doors, you may as well check your window and door frames so no cold breeze can get through 
    • For any window/door frames that aren't completely sealed, install weather stripping or caulking
      • This won't only naturally keep your home warmer, but it will also lower your heating bills in the winter
  • It's not completely necessary, but if you're not sure how well your heating system performs in the winter time, consider hiring a heating professional  to come out and take a look at it so no major problems happen when you need the heat the most
  • Clean your air ducts to improve efficiency and lower heating costs
  • Change your furnace filters
    • If you're not sure how often you should be changing your furnace filter, then check the size of it
      • A two inch filter should be changed about every 3 months
      • A four inch filter should be changed about every 6 months
      • A five inch filter should be changed about once a year
    • There are several things to keep in mind that will likely shorten your filter life:
      • Smokers in the house
      • Pets
      • Excess dust
      • Frequently leaving windows and doors open (outside contaminates invade the airflow in your home and, in turn, your furnace filter)
      • Keeping your heater fan on constantly 
  • Make sure your plumbing is well insulated so you don't have any burst or frozen pipes this winter
    • Frozen pipes can cost thousands of dollars to remedy so be sure to immediately turn off your water-shut off valve in the case of frozen pipes to prevent further damage
    • *See below for an easy printable guide to frozen pipe prevention and correction*

  • Hire a professional to clean your chimney to prevent serious and dangerous chimney fires
  • Clean your fireplace and test the flue to ensure a tight seal
  • Make sure your attic is well ventilated
    • Covered or clogged vents in your attic can cause winter ice dams on the roof
      • Take it from me, ice dams on the roof ARE NOT an easy fix
  • Seal gaps where any pests and/or rodents may enter to make a cozy home for their families this winter

 

Even if you were already aware of most/all of these points to help take care of inside your home before winter, you may not realize there are several things you can do outside your home as well to prepare:

  • Clean your gutters and downspouts to ensure everything is draining correctly
    • It's best to do this once most or all of the leaves have fallen so you don't have to go through the process twice in a short period of time 
    • If you're not comfortable on a ladder or simply don't feel like doing it yourself, you can hire a professional to take care of your gutters for you
  • Winterize your hose and sprinkler system, or you may end up in a situation like @ngeheniau!
  • Though it may seem silly, it's a good idea to fertilize and re-seed your lawn in the fall 
    • Roots grow deeper in the fall than they do in the summer and will use the food you give them now for growth in the spring 
    • Fertilizing now will help give your grass the energy it needs to multiply before it's in it's dormant state this winter
  • Aerate your lawn! This is noted as one of the most important things you can do for your lawn at this time of year
    • This entails making holes in the ground by removing plugs of soil from your lawn to allow nutrients, water, and air to penetrate the ground and help the roots flourish
      • This will keep your lawn looking and feeling healthy and fresh
      • You can purchase (and sometimes rent) an aerator at most home improvement stores. Home Depot offers rentals as low as $70/day in Madison.

 

  • Rake leaves before the first snow to encourage lawn growth in the spring when the snow melts
  • Keep watering your lawn until the snow hits to keep everything hydrated
  • If it's in your budget or if your trees and shrubs are your number one priority, it's not a bad idea to hire an arborist to take care of your landscaping
    • These professionals can detect early signs of poor health and fix them before those issues cause your tree's demise
    • They can also prune your trees and shrubs once the leaves change to promote healthy growth in the spring
    • If it's not necessarily in your budget to hire an arborist, it's still important for you to trim any large limbs from trees that are near your home or power lines 
      • Snow and ice build up can cause these limbs to fall and damage your property
  • Once it snows, you'll be taking out your snowblower so you'll want to be sure there aren't any foreign objects that could get sucked into your snowblower and damage it
    • Clear your walkways and driveway of any cords, cables, hoses, and rocks 
    • If you're feeling real ambitious, you can even mark your walkways and driveway so you know where to clear the snow once it does fall
  • Repair anything that you've noticed isn't entirely up to par on your home's exterior to prevent further and more expensive issues from arising

Now that I've chatted your ear off, get to checking off items from your list! It's only October, but before you know it, snow will be here and it'll be too late for you to get a lot of these tasks done.


Want a printable version of this checklist? Just right click the image below, save, and print. 

Feel free to reach out with any questions you have regarding home maintenance.

Happy home maintaining!

-K

 

For more information and ideas on fall and winter maintenance of your home, you can start by checking out the websites below:

“Fall Home Maintenance Checklist: 16 Things to Do Every Year.” Family Handyman, RDA Enthusiast Brands, LLC, www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/fall-home-maintenance-checklist/view-all/.

“Fall Home Maintenance | Fall Home Repair.” HomeAdvisor, 20 Oct. 2016, www.homeadvisor.com/r/fall-home-maintenance-checklist/.

Houzz and Laura Gaskill. “Your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 26 Sept. 2015, www.forbes.com/sites/houzz/2015/09/26/your-fall-home-maintenance-checklist/#215abbdf1b9c.

“How Often Should You Replace Your Furnace Filters?” Reddi HVAC, Reddi Industries, Inc., www.reddihvac.com/blog/heating/how-often-should-you-replace-your-furnace-filters.

“OCFD Warns; Cold Temperatures Can Lead to Frozen Pipes.” Town of Ocean City, Maryland, 28 Dec. 2017, https://oceancitymd.gov/oc/ocfd-warns-cold-temperatures-can-lead-to-frozen-pipes/

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