How to Prepare Your Home For Winter

Properly preparing your home for winter weather helps save on your energy bill and prevents costly problems, such as frozen pipes.

Cheryl Knight
How to Prepare Your Home For Winter

Properly winterizing your home can help keep your home energy bill expenses down. Plus, proper preparation for winter can also reduce household problems often associated with cold temperatures, including frozen pipes, flooding, and other weather-related emergencies.

In the following article, Part 1 gives advice on how cleaning your gutters, taking care of outside plants and bushes, and storing outdoor furniture can help you prepare the outside of your home for winter. Part 2 talks about getting your plumbing ready, making sure your heat works properly, and how fixing leaks around doors and doors can save on your energy bill and minimize flooding risk. And Part 3 discusses how planning for emergencies can make your winters safer for your entire household.

Part 1 of 3: Begin winterizing your home by starting outside

Shortly before the winter season hits, the first step in winterizing your house is to focus on the outside. You want to get the outside of your home ready before the weather gets bad, especially if your area experiences frequent rain and snowfall during the winter. The section below covers some important steps in preparing the outside of your home for the cold, winter weather.

Step 1: Clean the gutters. Start by cleaning your gutters after the fall season.

During the fall, leaves and debris from trees surrounding your home can clog your gutters and downspouts. This eventually results in water backing up and can even cause flooding if not cleaned.

Once winter arrives, keep an eye on your gutters for ice dams, which can cause the same problems as a clogged gutter. You should also seal leaky gutters or replace them to prevent water damage to your roof.

Step 2: Trim overgrown branches. Trim the trees around your house to prevent ice build-up on overhanging branches. Heavy branches could fall down and cause a power outage, property damage, or even personal injury.

Step 3: Clean the patio. Clean the patio and put any patio furniture into storage.

Alternatively, cover patio furniture with a heavy tarp.

Step 4: Remove plants. Remove any plants you want to replant in the spring.

Store the flower bulbs in peat moss in a cool, dry place.

Step 5: Shut off and drain outside water lines. Remove and drain water hoses, storing them away in the garage or shed.

Drain the outside water lines and wrap the faucets to prevent damage from the cold.

Part 2 of 3: Next, winterize your home by working inside

You should also get areas and systems inside your home ready for winter, just like the outside. Specific areas to focus on include the plumbing, heating, and sealing any leaks around windows and doors. The following section details the steps you need to take to help prepare the inside of your home for winter.

Step 1: Prepare the plumbing. Start by inspecting your plumbing, looking for any potential trouble areas.

If a particular pipe gave you problems in the past, insulate it to prevent it from freezing up.

In addition, determine the location of the main water shutoff. Usually, this is in front of the home between the house and the water main coming in from the roadway.

Some houses also have a water shutoff valve in the basement where the main water pipe comes in from the outside.

Step 2: Inspect the heating. Inspect the various ways you heat your home to make sure all systems are safe and good to go for the winter season.

This includes making sure that the fireplace is properly cleaned and the chimney inspected. If needed, hire professional cleaners to clean your chimney and fireplace to help prevent a fire.

Also, have the heater inspected and serviced. And make sure to check the filter, if your heater has one, to see if it needs replacing.

Step 3: Seal any leaks, To keep all of the heat inside the house, where it belongs, make sure to seal any leaks around windows and doorways.

This includes replacing any worn weather stripping, caulking any gaps, and installing storm windows and doors.

Further steps include insulating around pipes and ducts that travel through exterior walls.

Part 3 of 3: Finally, review emergency planning to help winterize your home

Winter weather brings with it a lot of different perils, including wind, freezing temperatures, and plenty of rain and snow. If the power goes out due to the weather, making emergency plans represents the best thing you can do to protect your home and your family. The following section lists important ways you can prepare if things go from bad to worse when the weather turns cold.

  • Backup generator: A backup generator can be a lifesaver if the power goes out due to a downed power line.

When purchasing a generator, make sure to get one that can properly run all of the devices you want while the power is out.

  • Alternate heat sources: Unless you have a fireplace or a generator to run the heater, you need to consider alternate heat sources to stay warm.

Kerosene heaters can provide heat when the power is out, but they can be dangerous if not used properly. Read the instructions before the power goes out, and make sure to properly vent the heater to prevent the buildup of dangerous carbon monoxide fumes.

  • Emergency supplies: You also need to have a small cache of supplies if the power goes out and the roads are impassable. Other supplies to keep on hand include:

  • Food (enough for each member of your family for three days)

  • Water (enough for each member of your family for three days)
  • Blankets
  • Flashlight or other light source
  • Batteries for devices, such as flashlights
  • First-aid kit
  • Emergency contact information (fire department, police, and utility companies)

Properly preparing your home for the winter ensures that you are ready when bad weather hits. By making sure everything is in proper working order in and around your home, you can ensure that if a problem does occur, you are ready for it. In addition, putting aside emergency supplies allows you to survive if the power does go out and you are stuck at home during the winter.

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