The Ultimate Home Owners Guide to Winter Preparation

Exterior of house covered in snow

Depending on where you live, you’ll experience the yearly seasons differently. Spring might carry a lot of rain or can be very dry. Summer could be extremely hot or mildly warm. Autumn (fall) can start the cold, gloomy weather or bring beautiful colors to the area. And winter can be your worst nightmare with snow, wind, and ice or it can be clear and decently cooler than usual.

In various parts of the globe, when winter is coming, that means major preparation for the cold weather ahead. There could be blizzards, white-outs, black ice, and many more eventful elements that winter carries with it. As an example, areas like Colorado receive a lot of snow, ice, and wind that makes you want to stay in the house all day long while sipping on some hot cocoa or tea (whatever your preference).

If you live in an area like Colorado where you fear your house needs to be prepared for the months ahead, follow this in-depth guide for how to prepare your house for the winter season.

Roof Preparation for Winter

House roof covered in snow and ice

Let’s start with the top and work our way down. Your roof is your home’s main protector, the shield to weather and the complications the outdoors bring. As the expression goes “keep a roof over your head”, which we will explain how you can do this before winter comes.

Typically, roofing repairs don’t occur during winter because of the dangerous weather conditions the season bears. To prepare your roof for the winter, you’ll want to get a jump start, preferably in summer but at the latest being the early-autumn season. You don’t want your house to end up like a snowglobe where all of the snow jumps in through the soft spots in your roof.

Hire A Roof Contractor for Inspection

Hiring a roofing contractor doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to make fixes to the roof of your house. You should, however, hire a contractor to do a roof inspection. Professional inspection of your roof is vital since the contractor knows what to look for. They know which areas will give out first, if there is any potential leaking, if you have a mold problem, and will spot out any other damages or concerns. Bringing this to your attention will help you understand what fixes might be necessary to make to your roof.

Examine Roof Decking

Examining the roof’s deck will give you a better understanding of soft spots in your roof. Sagging areas in your roof are dangerous and shouldn’t be taken lightly. During a professional roof inspection, your roofing contractor will examine the decking which is the sturdy structure that strengthens your roof. If it needs fixing, definitely fix it.

Clean Out Gutters

Cleaning your gutters might seem unnecessary or even silly to think about since it’s such a basic tip, but many homeowners forget to clean this area out before the winter sets in. After the lovely trees have shed their leaves and some branches, it’s time to clean out the gutters.

Not cleaning them can lead to various problems including clogging, freezing, or too much added weight which can end in your gutters becoming loose. Don’t forget to tighten your gutters after clearing any debris so they stay connected to your house during any harsh weather conditions.

Inspect Roof Flashing

Did you think there was such a thing? A roof isn’t as simple as one might think, there are a lot of components that make a safe, reliable roof. The roof flashing (joint covers) is a thinner material, typically made of galvanized steel, that protects openings of your roof from leaks. You’ll usually see flashing used on chimneys, roof vents, plumbing vents, dormers, skylights, etc.

Ensure you don’t have any missing areas where your roof flashing should be installed. Usually, it will be located on a flat surface. All openings should be sealed properly.

Replace Sealant and Repaint

To expand on the roof flashing, you’ll want to triple-check that the sealant used on your roof and other parts of your house isn’t old or falling apart. It might be time to make the necessary arrangements to replace sealant and repaint certain areas of your home’s exterior to protect it from hazardous weather, mold, and leaks.

Check Roof Shingles

The shingles on your roof aren’t just for show, they are an imperative component of your roof’s design. Shingles are laid on the majority of your roof’s surface, making them an important part of the roof. If your roof has shingles, these need to be checked for any damages, mold, or other concerns. The last thing you want is to get on your roof to find that Frosty can’t sit comfortably in his usual spot without falling off.

Clean the Chimney

Santa can’t get down a dirty chimney. Before winter hits, check your chimney. If it needs cleaning, now is the time. To safely use your chimney during the cold seasons, it needs to be efficiently cleaned and checked for any structural problems. Soot, creosote, and blockages can get in the way of a nice, cozy fire and might even make it dangerous to use. While your chimney is getting swept and deep cleaned, get that wood ready for winter’s bite!

Update Your Attic

Your attic is usually used for storing items, not animals. Those little critters can make a nice home of their own up there, even with the intense cold. Set up humane traps for pests and animals that can find their way into your home. While you’re up there, check your attic for any cracks, holes, mold, and insulation.

Cracks should be caulked and holes should be patched up to protect your attic from air leaks and weather finding its way in. If your insulation is torn, mangled, wet, or scarce, you should get it replaced. Nobody wants icicles or worse, ice dams! All mold should be removed.


House Exterior Winter Preparation

Neighborhood homes covered in snow

Your roof is technically considered as part of the exterior of your home, however, since we already covered that in full, this section will be focusing on other parts of the exterior including your backyard and front yard.

Caulk and Seal Windows and Doors

Your windows and doors are openings to your home. If a draft sets in from any of these openings, then you can have a rather cold winter inside your home. Caulk and seal up any areas where it feels like your home has air leaks. This can make all the difference between a warm or cold winter.

Prepare Your Backyard

No matter the size of your backyard, you should get it prepared for winter. If you have a garden or plants in your backyard, you should plan to put some work into this area of your home. Here are some key points to preparing your backyard for winter:

  • Remove rotting plants and weeds. Leaving them in the ground can lead to pest and insect infestation.
  • Continue to mow your lawn until the weather freezes it over. You’ll want to keep your grass at its usual, healthy height so as to keep it from dying during the cold weather.
  • Use mulching instead of raking to redistribute the fallen leaves you received during autumn to keep your lawn healthy.
  • Turn off your lawn-irrigation system to stop it from becoming frozen or wasting water during the winter. Do this right before the nights start to become freezing temperatures.
  • Drain and cover your pool so it doesn’t become a dirty, frozen pond.
  • Cover and store your lawn equipment so rust doesn’t set in or the weather destroys the motor in your lawnmower.
  • Check trees for loose limbs so the weather doesn’t make them fall into your house, on your car, or in the neighbor’s yard.

Prepare Your Front Yard

For your front yard, take into consideration the tips outlined in the backyard section aforementioned. Anything that applies from this section should be included in your front yard preparation. You’ll want to ensure that your walkways and driveway are winter prepped too:

  • Check for cracks and repair them so they don’t get worse and aren’t a danger to you and your family.
  • Don’t clutter your driveway. Keep it clean throughout the entire season so you don’t run into anything unexpected due to snow pile-ups. Where did that bicycle come from?
  • Inspect your driveway and walkways for drainage leaks. If you see puddles or small rivers of water, chances are you’ll get a lot of unwanted ice.
  • Acquire and utilize the proper winter tools to keep your walkways and driveway clear of snow. Tools such as snow blowers and shovels should be kept in good condition and stored in a dry place. Be sure that they are in working condition before the snow hits so you are aware if you need replacements or fixes.
  • Use an environmentally-friendly ice melt for your walkways and driveway. You can make these at home if you have the proper equipment.


In-Home Winter Preparation

Home living room with furniture and fireplace

Now that you’re aware of how you can prepare for winter on the outside of your home, it’s time to get the inside ready!

Check Heating and Air Systems

Your home’s heating and air conditioning system will act as your make or break when that winter air gusts on your walls. Being aware is the best preparation you can take for your HVAC. It might be time for a new air filter or you can hire an HVAC specialist to come in and inspect your system to ensure it will run properly during the winter. Acting now is better than waiting for a problem to happen when you need your heater the most.

Leave the Heat On

There is a lot of talk about whether or not you should leave the heat on in an empty house during the winter. The truth about this is that you should leave it on. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it needs to be blazing hot. You should set your home’s thermostat between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. You shouldn’t experience a heavy electric bill if you keep it at a lower temperature. The reason you want to keep the heat on in the house is to prevent the house from becoming cold and to prevent freezing in your pipes.

Winterize House Pipes From Freezing

Your home is filled with piping. As stated previously, you should leave the heat on to prevent your pipes from freezing, but that’s not the only preventative solution to frozen pipes. Along with this, you should also allow your faucets to slowly drip so they continue to run and don’t become frozen and potentially burst. Bursting occurs when there is built-up pressure. If your pipes are frozen and you try to turn them on, it could cause them to burst, then you’ll have another issue on your hands.

You should also add extra insulation to your home where pipes could become frozen. For example, your basement and attic might not be suitable enough with the insulation you currently have. Save yourself a headache and contact a plumber to inspect your piping. They’ll provide professional recommendations that you can consider for your winter prep.

Check Vents and Electrical Ports

Your vents and electrical ports are openings within the house. This means cold air can leak through them as the air is traveling through the house walls. For vents and electrical ports, hover your hand around the perimeter of the unit to feel for airflow. If there is, you may need to reseal the openings that are leaking air. Be sure to also check and clean all vents to allow proper airflow from your heater to circulate each room.

Get Your Basement Winterized

Finished basement with bedroom furniture

Not everyone has a finished basement, but either way, you should prepare it for winter.

Patch or Seal Holes

Check for holes or cracks inside and outside of the basement and get them sealed fast to prevent pests, cold air, and moisture from coming in. Just like any other part of the house, corners and openings should be sealed or caulked.

Check for Mold

There’s nothing worse than finding out your basement already has mold. Do your inspection or call a professional to check your basement for mold so it can be removed before the cold sets in.

Add Space Heating

If you want to keep your basement warm during the winter, try buying a space heater so you’re not wasting your electric bill on keeping the entire home warm from top to bottom. Keep the space heater close to the door for when you are going to be entering the basement so you can turn it on and off at any time, instead of forgetting about it when you go to leave.

Add Insulation

In case your basement isn’t properly insulated, now is the time to add it. It’s recommended that you pay a professional to add insulation to your basement so it’s properly installed. You can do it yourself if you trust your skills, but be sure you don’t skip any areas.

Prepare Your Garage for Winter

Closed garage door

Your garage can get very cold. As you most likely keep your vehicle(s) and storage items in your garage, it’s important to get it prepared for the winter season.

Check Your Garage Door

Your garage door is what protects your garage from winter’s cometh. Check for cracked, ripped, brittle, or loose weather stripping that could cause cold air or water to leak in. Replace your weather stripping if necessary. It’s good to inspect your weather stripping at least once per year anyway, so now is the time.

Seal The Flooring

In order to keep the streets free from snow, the county might use sodium chloride (salt) or another ice-control material. As you drive your vehicle(s) around, this ice-control material can get stuck on your tires, which trails into your garage. To prevent your garage flooring from corroding, staining, or acquiring other damages, think about sealing it.

A great coating layer you can paint on your current flooring is epoxy. Plus, you can add some flakes to the coating for more traction so you don’t slip and your vehicle’s tires have a better grip.

Prevent Pests

Just like with your attic, unwanted guests might try to make a home in your garage. Prepare your garage with some humane measures by adding traps and continue to clean your garage at least once per week.

Conclusion

Your home is your comfort zone. There is nothing worse than knowing that you missed something important during your inspection and winter preparation. Using these listed tips, create a checklist and make notes of anything suspicious that you come across. Don’t forget to check every corner of your house to be sure nothing has been missed.

We hope this guide helps you to prepare your home for the upcoming winter. If you have any suggestions to add to this list or you have tips of your own, please be sure to contact us.

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