WINTER PREPARATION TIPS
Your pre-winter to-do list is likely packed with winterization tasks to keep your home comfortable and safe. Beyond the inconvenience and discomfort, a winter storm or other severe weather conditions can cause real damage. So, it's important to think about winter preparedness. Protecting your home is vital. A frozen water pipe can burst and flood your house or basement.
Here are some useful tips to help you prepare better for the cold season:
- Install weather stripping, insulation, and storm windows.
- Insulate water lines that run along exterior walls.
- Clean out gutters and repair roof leaks.
- Tune-up your Heating System - make sure that it is clean, working properly, and ventilated to the outside. For about $80 to $100, a technician will inspect your furnace or heat pump to be sure the system is clean and in good repair, and that it can achieve its manufacturer-rated efficiency. Install a smoke detector. Test batteries monthly and replace them twice a year.
- Have a safe alternate heating source and alternate fuels available.
- Equip in Advance for Emergencies – stock enough food and water, medicines and keep an up-to-date emergency kit.
- Check on your UPS batteries – make sure they are functioning properly and are reliable. If you do not have a UPS you may want to read more about why would you need one here.
- If your house will be unattended during cold periods, consider draining the water system.
- Service the radiator and maintain antifreeze level; check tire tread or, if necessary, replace tires with all-weather or snow tires.
- Keep gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
- Use a wintertime formula in your windshield washer.
- Prepare a winter emergency kit to keep in your car in case you become stranded.
- Inspect your garage door – check the weather stripping around the door and make sure it isn’t loose or cracked. Be sure to clean the garage door tracks and lubricate the moving parts to keep the door running smoothly all season long. Tighten all the hardware on your garage door and inspect all high-tension cables to make sure they aren’t loose or frayed. Check when was your Garage Door Battery last replaced and if it is already 3 years old consider changing it with a new one.
- Shoveling - Be sure to shovel snow away from your garage door to ensure easy entry and exit. Don’t let too much snow pile up against the door, or the weight could cause it to bend inward.
- Insulate the walls - creates a controlled environment that keeps cold air out and warm air in. Before you add insulation to your garage walls, look closely for any gaps or cracks. If you notice any spaces, patch them up to make your insulation more effective. Inspect around windows to find leaky areas.
- Seal flooring - If you park your car in your garage, consider sealing the concrete to prevent salt damage. Once added, you should regularly wash the surface to prolong the life of the sealant.
- Protect your pipes - If you have water pipes running through your garage, it’s essential that you protect them during the winter. If you don’t, you could end up with serious damage to your plumbing system. Insulate your pipes before the first freeze and allow the faucets to drip if you have a sink in your garage. You should also properly drain, winterize and cover any outdoor spigots that enter your garage.
- Winterize interior items - If you store a lawnmower or any other gas-powered device in your garage, be sure to winterize each one. Sharpen snow shovels and store warm-weather items out of the way so you won’t have to search for the tools you need when a winter storm hits.
Mow your leaves instead of raking them, say studies at the University of Michigan and Purdue. The trick is to cut the leaves, while dry, into dime-sized pieces that will fall among the grass blades, where they will decompose and nourish your lawn over the winter. Use your lawn mower without its bag, and optionally swap the cutting blade for a mulching blade (about $15 to $25). The process may take several passes. If you need a new battery for your lawn mower, check here.