Whether you’re a veteran of bitterly cold winter weather or you’ve just recently moved to a colder climate, the time is now to take steps to protect your home and surrounding property. The earlier you do so, the better. Here are a few tips that will help ensure your home is ready to withstand whatever Mother Nature can dish out this winter.
Preparing Your Outdoor Property
It can be very easy to forget all about your yard once the snowflakes start to come down. Yet if you do, you might find it extremely hard to have a lush, healthy lawn once spring returns. This is a great time to not only help make sure your grass will come back strong when the weather warms up, but also to protect your outdoor property. Here’s some advice that will help:
- First, rake your lawn to uncover bald spots and then apply grass seed to the areas that need them. You should cover your entire yard in fertilizer sometime during the latter half of November.
- Don’t forget the tools and other equipment that you’ll need when the time comes to work in the yard again. Make sure you store all of your tools securely and keep them out of freezing weather. You’ll also want to store chairs, tables and anything else you normally keep outside. Good places to do so include your garage or the area under your porch or deck.
- Check your trees closely and trim any overhanging branches that could fall under the weight of ice and damage your house. If there are any weak or dead trees, you may need to seriously consider having them removed. However, please call a professional rather than trying to take care of this yourself. Tree trimming is extremely dangerous work and you could suffer a severe injury if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing.
Preparing Your Roof and Other Exterior Areas of Your Home
A brutal winter can be even more brutal on your roof, leading to problems that will cause damage throughout your home. Either check your shingles yourself or have a professional perform a thorough inspection. Nail down any loose shingles or replace ones that may be missing. Look at the areas where your exhaust stacks or chimney meet the roof to make sure they are properly sealed. Also, look to make sure the inside of your roof is properly insulated so that you don’t waste money on heat escaping from your house.
One of the most important things you can do is to closely inspect the gutters. Make sure they are cleaned completely to lower the risk of clogging due to falling leaves. Extend downspouts if necessary so they funnel water farther away from your house. This will help reduce the chances of slipping on ice when you walk to your door. Reduce your risk of falling by hiring a professional to inspect and clean the gutters. It’s a dirty job, let somebody else do it!
Sealing your doors and drafty windows can help keep you warm and lower your energy bills. Weatherstripping, caulk, aluminum flashing, insulation and other materials can help you save hundreds of dollars on your heating costs. They will also help you lower your cooling bills during summer.
Preparing Your Pipes
If you’ve ever gone through a pipe freeze, you know how much damage it can do to your home. Prevention is definitely the best policy when it comes to avoiding this costly problem the next time the temperature plunges.
When a pipe freezes, it can rupture, leading to indoor as well as outdoor flooding that can cost thousands of dollars to fix. Pay close attention to the weather during the winter and take steps to lower the risk of water damage. Here’s how to do it:
- Turn off the water supply to all your outside spigots, and then drain and store all of your hoses.
- Wrap your exposed pipes, as well as those located in your crawl spaces, in protective insulation to keep them from freezing.
- Inside the home, keep your faucets dripping slightly when the forecast calls for an extended freeze. Open cabinets where pipes are located so they can get warm air.
- Know where your main water shut-off is located so that you can quickly turn off the water should a pipe freeze occur.
Better Safe Than Sorry
If you should ever experience a power outage during the winter or your heater stops working for whatever reason, make sure you have plenty of firewood as a backup heating source. Also, make sure you have an ample supply of food, water, warm clothes and blankets just in case the power goes out for a few days.
Taking the necessary precautions before cold weather hits will make your home safer and also reduce the chances that you’ll have to deal with expensive headaches. The steps you take now will not only help protect your property, they will also keep you more comfortable inside while lowering your heating bills.
Richard Watkins, founder of Aerotech Gutter Service, has been a contractor and home remodeler for over 50 years. He’s completed many home remodeling jobs over the years and has seen pretty much everything that can go wrong with your home.