8 Important Things About Preparing Your Home For Winter Weather

The worst time to realize that something is wrong with your home is in the dead of winter… especially when it is something that could have been prevented with a little winter preparation and maintenance. The cold temperatures and snowfall make it difficult to make repairs when you need them, and make your home downright uncomfortable or dangerous. Here are 8 important things to do before winter.

  1. Inspect the Roof—Your roof is your first line of defense against harsh weather. Inspect roofing shingles, flashing and other roofing materials to make sure they are secured. This will help prevent water from getting underneath the roofing materials. Go into your attic and look at the underlying roofing structure for sunlight peaking through small holes, and stains from water damage.
  2. Clean Out the Gutters—Clear debris from your gutters and downspouts. If your gutters and downspouts are clogged, rain water and snowmelt will end up sitting in the gutters and possibly along your roofline. When temperatures drop, this will cause ice dams to form in your roofing. This can cause severe leaks and water damage.
  3. Clean the Chimney—Creosote build-up is a leading cause of chimney fires. Creosote is what forms inside your chimney as the smoke rises and cools. It can be slimy, sticky, flaky or hard. When the chimney is hot, this substance can ignite and cause an explosion or a fire in your chimney. Don't attempt to clean the chimney yourself, however. Given the dangerous location and the flammability of the materials involved, this is a job that is best left to a professional.
  4. Check the Vents—In the winter, cold air enters into your home through vents in your basement or crawlspace, and warm air leaves the vents in your attic. Make sure these vents are open and set to allow for an equal amount of air to pass through them. These vents are important in keeping your home from developing a stack effect. This is caused when the air pressure inside the home is lower than the air outside. This causes drafts and dangerous gases to be sucked into your home, such as carbon monoxide from your furnace and radon from underneath your home's foundation.
  5. Turn Off Water Supply to Outdoor Faucets—Frozen water in pipes may cause the pipes to rupture when the water thaws out. It's usually not enough just to make sure the faucet is turned off. There may still be water in the faucet and within the pipes. This water is highly prone to freezing when the temperatures drop. Instead, turn the water valves off that feed to those outdoor faucets. Then, turn the faucets on to allow the water inside the pipes to be expelled. Be sure to employ plumbing services if they freeze.
  6. Seal the Windows and Doors—If you are comfortable with climbing a ladder, go ahead and put caulking around your windows and doors on the exterior of your home. Cracks and crevices around windows and doors are commonly known to cause drafts in the winter. Install storm windows, if you have them.
  7. Repair & Seal the Driveway—As temperatures fluctuate, the constant freezing and thawing of precipitation can cause cracks to form in your driveway. Thawed water inside the cracks will expand is it freezes when temperatures drop. This is how some driveway cracks are formed. Prevent this by repairing cracks and sealing the driveway before the start of winter. Also, a sealed driveway will make snow removal easier.
  8. Remove Dead or Diseased Trees or Branches—Dead or diseased trees and branches can be dangerous in the winter. Heavy snow and ice can cause these damaged trees and branches to fall to the ground, or perhaps on your home or your vehicle. Call a tree service to inspect your trees and remove them if they are not healthy.

It's important to prepare your home for winter so you and your family can stay warm and safe. And, these preparations may help you save money by keeping energy costs down and reducing the need for costly repairs.