As beautiful as winter can be, it also comes with a dark side. Freezing temperatures, biting winds and white-out blizzard conditions can turn a lovely snowy evening into an absolute nightmare. If you don’t prepare for these winter storms in advance, they’ll wreak havoc on your home, yard and budget.
Here are a few ways to protect your property before winter arrives.
1. Insulate Pipes
Chilly winter temperatures can cause pipes to freeze and burst if you aren’t careful. Open kitchen and cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate and prevent pipes from becoming too cold and let faucets drip at night. If you plan to go away for a few days, set the thermostat no lower than 55 °F. Most importantly, wrap insulation around pipes that run through uninsulated spaces like the basement and attic to keep them warm.
2. Clean Gutters And Drains
Before the first winter storm blows in dedicate a few hours to cleaning out your gutters and clearing storm drains. Remove leaves, twigs and other debris that accumulated over the fall season. Doing so will help prevent ice dams, which can melt, pool around your foundation and melt into your basement. Check the roof while you’re up there to and replace any broken or missing shingles.
3. Test Your Sump Pump
Regardless of how well you clean your gutters, standing water may still collect around your home’s foundations. Eventually, that water can seep into your basement and cause flooding. Therefore, it’s important to test your sub pump every few months and make sure it works before winter arrives. Otherwise, you may end up with a wet basement and no way to get the water out yourself. Ultimately, this situation could result in costly repairs and professional flood management.
4. Prepare For Power Outages
Heavy snowfall and strong winds can down electrical poles and cause your home’s power voltage to skyrocket. This surge lasts less than a second but can do some serious damage to appliances and anything else you’ve plugged into outlets around your house. Therefore, it’s wise to prepare for power outages in advance by purchasing a surge protector. This handy tool will protect your devices and even prevent electrical fires.
5. Prune And Wrap Trees
Winter storms can weigh down tree branches with ice and snow, causing them to crack and break. Protect your home from falling limbs by trimming ones that hang over your house. Remove dead and dying branches as well. Protect growing trees by wrapping the trunk and vulnerable branches in a flexible tree wrap. This pre-winter preparation will protect them from sunscald and prevent unsightly wounds and scarring.
6. Shovel And Salt
When the temperature falls below freezing, snow can quickly turn to ice and blanket your sidewalks and driveway. Combat ice and prevent slips and falls by shoveling immediately after the snow lets up. Then, apply a thin layer of salt to the area. If you have pets, choose salts that are free of chemicals like calcium chloride, sodium acetate and magnesium chloride. If you have dogs, you might look to propylene-glycol-based melters for a safe and effective alternative.
7. Seal Windows And Doors
A sealed home is an efficient home. Keep your HVAC from working overtime this year by sealing up cracks and openings around windows and doors. Detect drafts and air leaks by lighting an incense stick and passing it around common leak sites. Then, apply caulk and weather stripping to seal cracks and save money on your utility bill.
Keep An Eye On The Weather
Winter is here, and it’s only a matter of time before the next blizzard strikes. However, if you make a habit of keeping a close eye on the weather and looking out for those winter storms, you’ll always be prepared for the worst.
Emily is a freelance writer, covering conservation and sustainability. You can read her blog, Conservation Folks, for more of her work.