While winter can be a great time to regroup, rest, and hibernate a bit, if you live in an area with a real winter, then you know that all this winter coziness comes at a cost. The harsh, bitter temperatures and fierce weather can make life difficult, and it can also do a number on your home.
Since your house is both a place to live in and an investment, it’s important you take all the measures you can to protect it during winter.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to protect your home during the time of the year when the sun hangs low and the air blows cold.
Here are the most effective:
One of the biggest hazards to your home during the winter is your pipes. As temperatures drop, the water inside them can freeze, and if this happens at a weak point in the pipe, it can burst.
Then, when the water warms up again, it will flow out of the pipe and flood your home, leaving you with two problems: a broken pipe and water damage.
Not good. Not good at all.
To prevent this from happening, consider wrapping your pipes, especially those that are located on the outside of the house where they’ll be more exposed to the elements. You can buy foam pipe wrap from any hardware store and do this yourself. Or, you can go one step further and blast some new insulation into your walls so that your plumbing is fully protected.
Keep Water Running (When Necessary)
In some cases, wrapping your pipes might not be enough. For these pipes, you’ll need to come up with a system to keep water running through them, preferably hot water.
You don’t need to do much; set times to run the water for a few minutes every couple of hours. And you don’t need to do it all the time, only when temperatures don’t rise above freezing for some time. Remember, if the temperature inside won’t ever be lower than what’s outside, just monitor the forecast and take care of your pipes.
Yes, this will cause your water bill to rise slightly. But this additional expense pales in comparison to what you would have to spend should a pipe actually burst.
While windows are an essential part of your home, they’re incredibly inefficient. Even modern windows, which have gotten much better, still let in some air. And when that air is cold, and it mixes with the warm air in your house, condensation occurs.
A little bit isn’t too bad. But if your window frames are made from wood, this constant exposure to moisture can cause rot and mildew buildup.
Take a look at your windows and if you spot any cracks in the frame, seal them up with caulk or foam insulation.
Another option, or something you can do in addition to applying caulk, is to seal windows from the inside using plastic wrap. There are kits you can buy at hardware and home improvement stores that provide you with everything you need to create an airtight seal and keep your home dry.
These measures will also help improve your home’s insulation, which will keep it warmer inside and reduce the need for you to pump the heat, saving energy and money.
Trim Low-Lying Branches
Before the winter weather sets in, take a walk around your house and look for any low-lying branches extending from the trees closest to your home. Snow and ice will cause them to sag, and then they can scrape against the side of your house and damage it. This can also happen during the heavy winds that come along in winter.
Some of this you may be able to do yourself. But if you’re not comfortable with a ladder and a saw, or if the branches are too big or too high, then call in a professional to make sure you don’t hurt yourself or damage your home.
Regular gutter cleaning should be a part of your home maintenance program no matter where you live. But it’s particularly important for those who live in areas with harsh winters.
This is because blocked gutters will cause snow and ice to build up, and then when it melts, that water will drip straight down onto the ground next to your foundation. From there, it will seep into your foundation and basement and can cause all sorts of problems.
Because of the nature of this job, make sure you check and clean your gutters before the weather turns cold. You won’t be able to do much once winter finally comes, and then all that’s left is hope.
Check for Fire Hazards
Fires are more common during the winter months since people are spending more time inside and also because they are relying more on heat.
If you have central air or some other type of heat, this might not be a huge concern. But many people rely on space heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces to keep warm during the winter. This may be fine, but before you turn these on, make sure they’re cleaned and serviced. And also check to make sure they’re not positioned too close to anything flammable.
Service Your Heating System
One last thing you’ll want to do to protect your home during the winter is to have your heating system serviced. Clogged or dirty furnaces can be a fire hazard, and blocked air ducts can make it hard to accurately control the temperature in your home.
During this time, you’ll also want to make sure your thermostat is calibrated and working properly so that you can guarantee your home won’t get too cold and be subjected to winter damage.
Winter is Coming. Time Get to Prepared
No matter the time of the year, it’s never too early to start preparing for winter. The harsh weather that defines this season can wreak havoc on your home, cost you money, and jeopardize your peace of mind.
Luckily, you’re not powerless. Start taking steps now to protect your home, and then sit back and be cozy and comfortable as the snow starts falling and the temperatures start dropping.