Winter doesn’t start officially for more than two months, but homeowners were sent scrambling into preparation mode recently by a stretch of unseasonably cold days in certain parts of the northeastern United States.
If you’re a new homeowner, or you’re not accustomed to preparing a home for the colder months, you might want to take heed of the following tips and tricks, which should help you foresee some common complications and prevent costly headaches down the line.
Windows and Doors
Of all the winterization techniques on this list, checking your windows and doors is both one of the easiest, as well as one of the most consequential. Cracks and leaks can create a surprising amount of heat loss, so it literally pays to do a thorough check.
You’ll want to start with the weatherstripping around your windows and doors; this is the cushiony material that creates a seal against the elements. It’s an easy fix, thanks to some inexpensive weatherstripping materials that you can pick up at any big box retailer or home improvement store.
It’s also worth the time and effort to replace any screen doors you may have with storm doors; same goes for window screens, which should be replaced with storm windows in the colder months.
Lawn and Garden
It might be tempting to ignore or neglect your yard during the winter months, but there are a couple of important preparations you’ll want to take care of in order to prevent damage.
Start by cutting back any branches that overhang your home or nearby electrical wires. Even trees that appear to be sturdy and time-tested could face a considerable amount of strain during winter thanks to snow pileup and harsh winds.
And if you haven’t already, you’ll also want to double-check the dirt grade all around your house. If the ground slopes toward the foundation, the runoff from melting snow will have an easier time making its way inside.
Finally, make sure you shut off any exterior spigots or faucets, and thoroughly drain leftover water from any valves, pipes, hoses, or sprinkler heads that will be exposed to the elements.
Machinery and Tools
For basic hand tools and yard implements, make sure they’re stored indoors in a dry location. It could also pay to spray them with a light coating of oil to prevent rust buildup.
This won’t apply to everyone, but if your home makes use of a compressed air system, make sure you check the weatherstripping ahead of time, just as you’d do for your windows and doors. Make a point throughout the winter to check for condensation on the outside of your tanks; if you find any, it could freeze and cause considerable damage to the system. If there’s moisture present, drain your tanks immediately.
Something else you’ll want to consider is protecting yourself from power outages, which tend to be more common in the winter months than in the drier seasons. The benefits of a propane backup generator are well known, and could grant you and your family some much-needed peace of mind this winter season.
Gutters and Roof
Finally, haul out your ladder one last time this Fall to take a closer look at your roof and gutters.
Inspect your roof closely; if there are any missing, loose, or damaged shingles, take the time to replace them before the snow starts to fall; the last thing you want is to deal with a leak while there’s two feet of snow on your roof.
Take some time to clean out your gutters as well; if there’s a buildup of debris, this could cause an obstruction that leads to leaks from melting snow. Same goes for your downspouts; make sure they’re free from blockage and extend at least five feet from the foundation of your home.
The full list of winterization hacks is a bit longer, but we think we’ve covered the biggest points of interest here. Above all, remember Benjamin Franklin’s classic saying: an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure.
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