Harsh winter weather can take a big toll on your home, especially if you haven’t taken the proper precautions to prepare your home for the cold, wet weather. Here are a few home improvement projects that you will want to do before it’s too late.
A pre-winter inspection
The first home winterization task you need to do is conduct a pre-winter inspection. This is basically a walk around the exterior of your home looking for potential problems that could become bigger problems during the winter. There are a number of things you should be looking for:
- Does the ground slope away from your home or towards it? If it slopes towards it, melting snow and ice is going to seep into your home and damage your foundation and/or basement.
- Are there gnawing marks on the trim and vents? This suggests that animals might be trying to hole up in your attic space to stay warm this winter. Pay especially close attention for any possible entrance points and get them patched up. You can also inspect your attic for nests, animal droppings, and other signs that animals have gotten inside. If you find anything, call animal control.
- Are there any gaps in the caulking or weather strips around windows and doors? Over time gaps form in the caulking and weather strips or they can crack letting in a draft of cold air. It’s a fairly inexpensive fix and it will save you a lot of money on your energy bills so this one is a no-brainer.
- Is your roof in good shape? Since the roof is out of sight, it’s easy to forget about it but your roof is your home’s first line of defense so if it’s compromised, it doesn’t matter how secure the rest of your home is. You’re watching for cracked, curling, or otherwise damaged shingles. Also pay attention for any areas of your roof that might be sagging.
- Are the tree branches that hang precariously over your home? If they’re going to fall and damage your home, it’s most likely going to happen in the winter when they’re weighed down with snow and ice and there are strong winds.
Protect your pipes
You should remove any hoses attached to outdoor spigots and turn off the water valves for those spigots. Also open up the spigots so if there’s a drip, it can drip freely rather than freeze in the pipes. If you store your hoses in an unheated garage, make sure to carefully drain any water that may be inside so they don’t freeze and get damaged. If you live in a really cold area, you may want to completely reinsulate your pipes if you have an older home.
Prevent ice dams
Ice dams can be just as problematic as burst pipes. If your home has a problem with ice dams forming along the edges of your roof and in your rain gutter, you need to take steps to prevent it from happening this year. First, make sure your rain gutters are free of any debris to begin with so water can flow freely. Beef up the insulation in your attic so warm air from your home can’t heat the attic space and melt the snow on your roof prematurely. As a last resort, you can also install heat cables along the edge of your roof.
Upgrade your heating system
Regularly clean or replace your furnace filter to keep it blowing hot air. Insulate your water heater so it doesn’t have to work as hard to keep the water hot for your home. Plug and seal your chimney’s flue if it’s just a decorative element in your home or just make sure to close the flue whenever your fireplace isn’t in use so your hard-earned money you spend on heating isn’t going to waste. If you have a baseboard radiator system, install new baseboard heater covers. It’s an easy upgrade that costs very little and is easy to do since they simply snap into place.