The Importance of Winterizing Your Home Before Winter Actually Arrives Part 1

Prepare the Outside of Your Home for Cold Weather with 7 Timely Tasks

Are you ready to get your home ready for winter weather?

Now, we can hear everyone out there: "Isn't it just September? Why are you talking about winterizing your home now?"

We get it – it's still quite warm in many parts of the country, but that's kind of the point. As any experienced homeowner will tell you, the more preparation you do in advance of a big change in the weather, the better off you will be. We contend there are two principal reasons for this bit of common-sense wisdom:

  1. It gives you time to complete these activities before the cold weather arrives; and
  2. You won't be completing them when it's actually cold outside.

In other words, to experience any true benefits from winterizing your home, you should complete the following 7 tasks now because that first cold snap of fall will hit before you know it.

#1 Clean Your Roof

That's right – you need to either get up your roof yourself or pay a professional to do so. The goal is to first locate any shingle damage, determine if there are any weak spots in the infrastructure of the roof itself, and then get those spots repaired. Your roof is truly the first line of defense against cold weather, so if it's at all damaged, you will be contending with drafts, leaks, and all-around terrible conditions all weather.

#2 Clean Your Gutters

You should be able to take care of this one yourself, even if you need to borrow a good ladder from a neighbor or family member. Even if you have the cleanest, best-looking roof on the block, if your gutters aren't cleared out regularly, this can lead to trouble over time. It's fairly simple: the precipitation and falling leaves that tumbles off your roof needs somewhere to go, and clean gutters help with that. If your gutters are backed up, then that water and leaves will simply pile up around the edge of your roof, and this can cause extensive water damage once that water freezes in your gutters.

#3 Clear Your Yard

This tip runs the gamut from putting away your patio furniture to storing your yard equipment securely. And while this task won't necessarily prevent winter weather from assaulting your home, you don't want the season to damage any outdoor equipment. Pay special attention to detach any hoses you might have attached to external spigots, as these can be easy entry points for water to freeze the pipes inside your home and cause extensive water damage.

#4 Trim Trees and Bushes

This task ties everything together. You want to ensure that your yard doesn't provide any easy entry points for cold weather to enter or damage your home, and it starts by trimming back your trees, bushes, and assorted foliage. Overhanging branches can easily become laden with ice and snow, and even before they break and fall onto the roof, they can sluice moisture directly onto your roof with an annoying regularity. With bushes, you want those trimmed back so they don't retain moisture and snow around the windows and doors of your home.

#5 Get Your Furnace Inspected

This is another tip that requires the assistance of a licensed professional. Yes, you can keep dirt, leaves, and other matter from outside the unit, but when it comes to the inside of your furnace, that's something that is better left to the professionals. The reason we encourage you to schedule an inspection for your furnace in September or October is that we're still outside of peak demand for HVAC professionals, so you can probably get a good deal and a reasonable appointment time.

#6 Clean Your Fireplace and Chimney

Another task that requires the assistance of a professional, your fireplace and chimney are rife with potential for causing problems around the house in the winter. You have two basic options:

  1. If you don't have plans to use your fireplace or chimney this year or in the near future, request that they be closed up as effectively and safely as possible.
  2. If you enjoy using your fireplace and chimney, you want a professional chimney sweep to clean them before you start using them to warm your home so all possible fire and safety hazards are removed – including the chance for carbon monoxide to enter your home.

And like your furnace inspection, the further out from actual winter weather you can get your fireplace and chimney checked out, the better off you will be.

#7 Prepare Your Plumbing

We're finally here. The big one. The ultimate tip for winterizing your home before the cold weather arrives. This depth and level of difficulty of this tip definitely depend upon the construction of your home, but the short answer is this: cover any and all exposed pipes around your home.

If your home is on any sort of piers, wrap those pipes. If you have exposed pipes in your basement or subfloor, wrap those pipes. If you have water spigots on the outside of your home in any location, wrap those pipes. You must do everything you can to ensure that the cold winter temperatures don't get into your pipes and cause all sorts of terrible damage to your home. And yes – if this requires the help of a professional, get that help, because it will be cheaper to invest in prevention than getting the problem fixed after your pipes have burst.

Sure, you can take care of these home improvement projects once December arrives, but you will be better off doing them far in advance. All it takes is one big cold front to arrive in fall for your home to experience any ill effects – before that's before the extended cold weather of winter truly arrives.

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