When the weather outside turns frightful, is your home ready for the onslaught of cold air? Prepping your home for the winter involves more than ensuring your home has been cleaned before your in-laws make it to town. Without the proper preparation, you may find yourself without heat or dealing with frozen water pipes, slippery sidewalks, and a messy entryway. These quick maintenance tips will help you have your home winter-ready in no time!
1. Check Emergency Supplies
Having the right emergency supplies on hand is crucial during the winter months. Stock your home with a few basics—and grab some extras to make a winter survival kit for your vehicle, too.
- Individually-wrapped snacks, such as energy bars
- Bottled water
- Battery-powered radio
- Blankets or a sleeping bag
- Emergency road flares and reflectors
- Cell phone or small electronics charging kit
- Necessary medications
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Extra socks, hats, and mittens
In addition to gathering your supplies. it's also good to be sure you always head out with at least half a tank of gas in case you get stuck on the road.
2. Prepare Your Entryway for a Mess
From mittens and snow-covered socks to muck and mud on shoes, your entryway is likely to take a beating over the winter months. Place a convenient rug right inside your door and encourage your guests and family to remove their shoes as soon as they enter the house—or even take them off outside! Snow and ice quickly become a muddy mess, and that's the last thing you want on your carpet or floors during the winter.
3. Centralize Winter Clothing Storage
Does your family have a tendency to toss hats, gloves, thick socks, and coats inside the door they entered and leave them there? If so, you need to designate a single location where all this outdoor wear can be stored without becoming an eyesore. A hanging rack or series of hooks may be best, as the clothing may mildew if placed in a pile due to the wetness from outdoors.
4. Protect Your Water Pipes
Nothing feels better when you come in from a few hours of playing outside in the snow than a nice, warm bath and some hot cocoa. You don't want to ruin that experience with burst pipes and no water. This is the worst-case scenario in the winter and can be resolved by ensuring that you fully protect your pipes before the cold weather hits. Your local hardware store should be able to advise you on the best way to protect the various pipes around your home.
5. Prevent Ice Dams from Forming
Your roof works hard to protect your biggest investment—your home—but it's important to keep your roof in tip-top condition. Part of this is ensuring that you don't have ice dams forming on your roof. These continuous chunks of ice can melt during the day and seep back up under your shingles, eventually dripping through to the soffit of your roof. This can cause rust spots, peeling paint, and even stains on your walls and ceiling due to damage from the melting water. If you suspect ice dams on your roof, it's time to call a professional for a quick inspection and roof repair, if needed.
6. Update Your Insulation
Are you noticing that your central heat has to work harder than ever before? The problem may not be in the heating unit. Instead, you may need to have your attic and insulation inspected, as well as your home's ventilation systems. This type of annual inspection can help reduce your overall energy bills and protect your family from the next big cold snap.
7. Keep Pathways Clear of Ice and Snow
Keeping the pathways leading up to your home clear of ice and snow not only protects your family and friends from slips and falls, but it will also help maintain your healthy lifestyle during the long winter months. Keep snow shovels and granular salt on hand to help with melting ice, and get ready to work out those obliques, legs, and back muscles.
8. Replace Worn Weatherstripping
Cold air can seep into your home in a variety of places, but it particularly loves to slide in around your windows and doors. If the weatherstripping in these areas is worn or needs replacement, there may be a big impact not only on the temperature in your home but also in the cost of your energy bills for the winter! Look for places where cold air is sliding in and get them patched to stay toasty warm this winter.
It doesn't take a big investment in time or supplies in order to complete these maintenance tasks and get your home ready for the winter months. With the length of the winter in Northern Virginia, there are too many opportunities for your home to become damaged by storms or the weight of ice and snow. Keep yourself and your family safe and snug this year!