The winter months can be cruel on your home no matter where you live. Gusting winds can batter plants. A snowstorm could stress an older home’s roof. Even a few days of heavy January rain could wreak havoc on clogged gutters and downspouts.
Whether you’re looking to sell your home or you just want to keep your house intact this winter, there are simple steps you can take to protect your home from whatever wintry forces of nature come your way.
1. Inspect Your Roof
Winter weather can hurt your home’s roof in many ways. High winds, heavy rain or snowfall can cause strain, and excess leaves or debris could clog gutters and create build-up on the roof. A damaged roof will significantly impact your home’s value, and it’s easier (and cheaper) to take precautionary steps now before any trouble strikes in the colder months.
Schedule a roof inspection before the winter weather hits so a professional can thoroughly inspect your roof’s condition and make recommendations. Ask the inspector to check for missing or loose shingles, blocked gutters or potential sources of mold and decay.
2. Check for Air Leaks
Leaks in your windows, doorways or walls can drastically increase your monthly utilities bill, and if you live in a colder climate, it can make your home uncomfortable, too! Luckily, it’s easy to perform your own home check and seal any leaks. Check all the window frames and doors in your home for cracks where cold air could come through. You should check any vents and phone lines as well – really, any potential opening from your home to the exterior.
The Department of Energy recommends performing a visual inspection as well as a simple pressurization test to discover where external air is entering your home. If you find a leak, use caulk and weather stripping to seal out the cooler air, or consider installing storm windows for the winter months.
3. Clear the Gutters
Falling leaves are a hallmark of the autumn months, but they can be trouble for a home’s gutters. Clogged gutters leave rain with nowhere to go, and it can cause damage to a home’s walls, soffits and fascias, as well as siding and basements.
You can grab a ladder and clear the debris yourself, or you can hire local professionals to safely take care of the job. Clean gutters now will spare you a headache later this winter!
4. Clean the Chimney
You should have your chimney checked once a year at least, particularly if you plan to use the fireplace to stay warm this winter. A blocked or damaged chimney could heat your home unevenly and boost your utility bill, but its biggest risk is as a potential fire hazard.
You can try to clean the chimney yourself if you want to get your hands dirty. But it’s far easier and safer to hire a chimney cleaning company to inspect and clear your chimney and fireplace, so you can curl up by the fire all winter long.
5. Clear the Yard
While many flowers need the chill of a winter season in order to bloom in the spring, it’s important to prepare your full yard for cooler weather. Changing seasons will impact your garden no matter where you live.
Consider bringing your more fragile plants indoors if you live in a colder climate, and remove any annuals you have planted. Put away any outdoor furniture you have, and clear out any fallen leaves so they don’t suffocate the lawn. Finally, store all your gardening tools for the season so they don’t rust or wear down before the spring.
6. Prepare the Pipes
If you live in an area that gets very cold in the winter, you’ll have to take extra measures to prepare your home for the winter. Before the frost hits, make sure to store garden hoses and close any inside valves that supply water to outdoor faucets. Don’t use antifreeze in any of these lines – it’s not good for the environment and could be harmful to pets, wildlife and people.
Insulate indoor pipes in parts of the home that are typically unheated, like the attic, garage or crawl spaces. The Red Cross recommends keeping the thermostat at the same temperature throughout the day and night so the pipes aren’t subject to drastic temperature changes, and check all the faucets regularly throughout the winter season.