Home Home Improvement How to Prepare Your Home for Winter

How to Prepare Your Home for Winter

by Louise W. Rice

Assuming you live in a part of the world that has a pretty distinct seasonal climate, the onset of winter brings with it a host of homecare challenges. Where the weather is warm all the time, houses are designed for hot weather; where it is frequently cold, they are designed for that too. But for the rest of us (and that is actually most of us in the U.S.), the change of seasons brings with it a drastic change in conditions. To that end, there are things you can do to get your home ready for the winter months.

Preparing your home for winter can mean different things to different people, and it very much depends on what type of home you have. If you have a swimming pool or some other outdoor water features, it would be best if you prepare ahead of time so that when the colder months come, you’ll be ready. Similarly, if you live in an apartment complex, then it’s likely that you can forgo the bags of gritting salt and focus on other things instead.

Winter also brings with it a host of seasonal holidays and social events that you might regularly celebrate at your home. And preparations for a Christmas dinner are quite different from preparing for a garden barbeque, and so the seasonal celebration calendar can affect what duties you have to undertake as well. Of course, there are just as many other tips that all homeowners living in a place with distinct seasonal changes should heed.

This article will not focus on garden care. If you take pride in having a blooming summer garden and wish to have one next year, then we enter a whole other area of winter gardening and plant care, which is really a topic for another day. This article is focused on preparing the home (inclusive of the garden) for the winter months – not the winter duties of an avid gardener.

When Should I Begin Preparing for Winter?

The answer to this question depends very much on what duties you have to undertake at your home. There are some winter duties – for example, gritting the driveway or clearing a parking space of snow – that you cannot really do until the cold weather comes around. For the majority of winter preparations, however, the best time to get started is in the fall. For example, it is best to clear away those fallen leaves at this time instead of waiting until they form grey mushy humus all over your lawn. Not every winter preparation needs to be done in the fall, but as a rough rule of thumb, this is the time to begin.

Preparing Your Home for Winter

Here follows then a list of top winter preparation tips that will apply in most cases. Take care to only follow the ones that work for you, however, and be sure to take into consideration the type of home you have and what type of winter home you wish to create.

Fix Up Your Heating System

If the summer has been warm, chances are you haven’t been using your heating system for all those months. In the winter, though, it is sure to become an absolutely necessary utility. For a very affordable price, a heating technician can inspect your boiler, furnace, or heat pump and ensure that everything is in working order. This is certainly something to do in the fall or just at the onset of the winter. If you neglect to do this and simply start using your heating system when it becomes cold, you could suddenly require repairs at a time when many others are in the same position. This could mean a potentially long waiting period to get it fixed.

Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

This is a simple tip that you can very easily implement as and when it is needed. There is no need for advance preparation here. If your ceiling fan has a reverse switch, then flick it on in order to draw air upwards. Hot air rises, and by forcing it against the ceiling, you can push it downwards evenly across the room. This will lead to better heat circulation and a warmer room in the colder months. This tip is especially effective for rooms with high ceilings.

Check Your Roof

One thing you certainly want to avoid as the winter months come in is any pesky leaks, or cracks that can be expanded by ice on your roof. Melting snow, which will concentrate a water source across your top, can be worse than a rainstorm when it comes to exploiting any damage in your roof and letting water into your home. Before the winter months come in, be sure to hit the top and inspect it for any such damage. A handyman can repair it for a reasonable price if you find any, but consider a professional roofer for any widespread damage you detect.

Clean the Gutters

There are several reasons you will want to do this when the weather is still mild, and the most important of these is that trying to do this in the winter, when ice, snow, and meltwater have already collected around all the organic mush in your gutters, can be a difficult task. Leaving your gutters a mess when the winter comes in can also cause damage to the roof, siding, and wood trim, not to mention the leaks and ice dams it can cause in winter. Pick a dry day in the fall when all the nearby trees have only just shed their leaves and get up there to scrape it all out.

Turn Off Exterior Faucets

And this means turning off the main supply of water to them. If any exterior pipes still have water sitting in them come winter, this will freeze and will likely cause significant damage to your plumbing. This can then become a costly problem to fix. To find the shut-off valve within your home and make sure to turn it off in late fall.

There is a good deal more besides that could have been included in this list, but a great deal of that is common sense. By following the tips outlined here, though, you can save yourself not only discomfort during the winter months but also a whole load of cash in potential repairs as well. Once you build up a winter preparation routine, it will become second nature as a yearly task in no time.

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