Prepare Your Home for Winter

Your home protects you from the elements, but you also have to protect your home by adequately preparing for seasonal weather changes. This fall, follow these steps to prepare your home for the winter.

Prepare Outdoor Spaces

Before the first freeze of the season, you should prepare your outdoor spaces. If you have an outdoor barbecue, clean, cover and store it in a safe place. Clean your decks and outdoor furniture and check for any damage or needed repairs. You can cover your outdoor furniture to protect it from rust or damage from the snow.

If you have lots of trees in your yard, check for and trim any dead branches. Dead branches can become detached and cause damage during winter storms. You should also go ahead and empty your planters and pots since the soil inside can freeze and crack the container.

You should also make sure to rake in any leaves piling up in your yard. Thick layers of dead leaves can suffocate the grass underneath and cause huge problems with insects. Use a leaf blower to clear the yard, or rake and collect the leaves to compost or mulch them. Mulched leaves are a great source of nutrients for your garden.

Once you’ve prepared your yard for winter, make sure to clean and store your yard tools. Lawn mowers, trimmers, and other gasoline-powered machines should be drained of fuel and stored away. Make sure your winter tools are prepared and ready to go, especially your snow shovel and ice scraper.

Finally, take care of any of your outdoor water faucets. Water left over in the pipes can freeze and damage the pipes, so you’ll want to drain all your outdoor faucets and hoses. Detach and coil your hoses for storage in a warmer area. Make sure to shut off any automated sprinkler programs as well, and if you have a pool, make sure to cover it.

Check Your Insulation

You’ll want to check all your window frames and door frames for any openings or loose insulation. You can add weather strips to your window frames and caulk any openings in the wood of your doorframes. Make sure there are no areas for water to get in because they could freeze in the winter and create cracks or mold.

You also want to inspect your attic and make sure that you’ve got enough insulation to prevent all your home’s warm air from escaping into the attic. Make sure to caulk any cracks or holes in your attic where you can see sunlight shining through. If you notice that your insulation is torn, wet, damaged or more than five years old, you may want a professional to inspect your insulation and replace it if necessary. A properly insulated attic can save you up to 20% on your utility bill in the winter, so preventative repairs are worth it!

Inspect the Exterior of Your Home

Check the roof for any missing or loose shingles. You may want to go ahead and replace them to make sure you don’t have to deal with a leaky roof in the middle of winter. Also, clean out your gutters to prevent ice dams. If you have an outdoor air conditioning unit, cover it to protect important components from rusting.

Check for any peeling or cracked paint on the outside of your house. If the paint layer becomes too damaged or cracked, it can cause damage to your siding. Repairing damaged siding is much more expensive than a fresh paint job, plus, fall is a great time to paint your home’s exterior.

If there are cracks in your driveway, you can use a filler to repair them and seal with a commercial sealer. This will extend the life of your asphalt and decrease the likelihood of winter damage to your driveway. In your garage, be sure to clear out any items that could freeze, including paints, automotive chemicals, adhesives, and grouts.

Stay Warm, Not Hot

Prepare your fireplace. Is the gasket properly sealed? Have you cleaned your chimney in the past few years? Clogged chimneys can cause fires or carbon monoxide poisoning, so be sure to get your chimney cleaned. Speaking of carbon monoxide, check the batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Heating components are more likely to cause fires in the winter, so you want to make sure your alarms are ready to go.

Check all your filters. Air filters from your home cooling and heating units, the hood filter in your kitchen, any filters you might have in humidifiers or air purifiers – all of it. Clean or replace any dirty or damaged filters. This will improve the air quality in your home and reduce the likelihood of clogged filters causing problems.

Preparing your home for the winter is an important step in maintaining the safety and value of your home. With these steps, you’ll be on your way to a cozy winter!