by Zach Buckley
Weather forecasters are calling for a harsh winter this year in many parts of North America. It’s not something we want to think about just yet but it will happen in a few months. Winter’s approaching, and with it comes cold, menacing weather. You protect yourself from frostbite with the help of heavy coats, hats, mittens and boots. Your home also requires protection, or it will be susceptible to a whole host of problems. Failure to prepare your house for winter could result in anything from a set of frozen pipes to ice dams on the roof.
The following tips can help you prepare for the winter and keep you cozy until spring.
Invest in winter equipment
When that snowstorm strikes, you don’t want to be trapped inside your house without a shovel. Make sure you have one or two snow shovels for your house – keep one inside your house, and ideally, keep a shovel in the trunk of each car. If you have a physical condition that makes heavy shoveling an impossibility, consider investing in a snow blower. Stock up on ice-melt, because it often can be hard to find once a snowstorm hits.
Keep indoor air warm and clean
The last thing you need on a frigid day is a furnace that refuses to work. Before the temperature drops below zero, be sure to have an HVAC professional out to inspect your furnace. You may also want to stock up on furnace filters. Check filters monthly to determine whether they need to be changed. In the winter, when your windows are sealed tight for months, indoor air quality can become poor if your filters aren’t clean.
Use weather stripping or caulk around windows and doors to defend against icy winds. Install storm windows or plastic sheeting to cut down on drafts, too.
Avoid burst pipes
Frozen pipes are easily one of the most common (and annoying) household problems associated with winter. Water expands when it freezes, and if it expands too much, it pipes burst. The first step to preventing frozen pipes is to insulate any exposed tubing or piping. For extra protection, stop by a plumbing supply store and purchase a few pipe sleeves. These provide excellent insulation and are easy to install. Another important step: Drain air conditioner pipes and garden hoses. Remaining water can contribute to burst pipes when cold weather strikes. If, despite all these preparations, you suspect a pipe has frozen, call a plumber as soon as possible. The sooner you get someone to take a look, the less likely you’ll wind up with a plumbing explosion.
Some of your plants may be hardy enough to last through the winter, but others are going to need a bit of extra care. Identify which species will make it through frost. The more susceptible plants will need to be covered, ideally with a frost blanket. Some perennials are best covered with an organic mulch. This can be made from raked leaves from your yard, pine needles or straw. The mulch should not be too compact as you will then risk suffocating the very plants you are trying to protect.
As a homeowner, you may be dreading the onslaught of winter weather. Freezing temperatures are bad enough, but preparing your house for those temperatures can be a pain. As tempting as it may be, avoid procrastinating on the winterizing tasks listed above. A little foresight can go a long way in your effort to keep your home safe and sound.
About the Author
Zach Buckley is a freelance writer based in the Midwest. He enjoys exploring developing trends in education, technology and culture. When he isn’t reading or writing blogs, he enjoys sampling good music and good food. Follow him on Twitter! @Zach_buckley