Living in places with cold climates can be quite challenging. Sometimes, weather conditions can get too harsh without even a warning. This prompts people to prepare their homes as early as they can before the chilly climate sets in.
Snowstorms and blizzards are some main culprits for property damages, especially for those living in chilly places. In fact, in the U.S., property losses caused by winter storms and cold waves reached $7.4 billion in 2019. On top of this, snowstorms accounted for the highest number of fatalities caused by natural catastrophes. Such weather disturbance led to the loss of 73 human lives in the U.S. last year.
Winterizing your home can help save you and your family from these dire consequences. Here are some simple ways on how you can prepare and safeguard your home from the next snowstorm:
1. Take down damaged or dangerous tree branches hanging over your house.
Trees are a significant hazard to human lives and properties amid severe weather conditions. Their branches can break and fall from strong winds and winter storms. This can lead to severe property damage or, even worse, human fatalities. In fact, over 400 deaths in the U.S. were caused by fallen trees in the past decade.
Trimming large tree branches can help reduce the swaying movement amid strong winter winds. It can also help balance out the weight of the tree, preventing it from toppling down. You can also remove the whole tree, especially when it starts to look brittle and unstable. However, full removal can be more expensive than trimming. It also requires local government permits, so make sure to secure all the requirements before doing so.
2. Install new weather stripping.
Carefully inspect your windows and doors and fill any gaps by caulking or weather-stripping. Such practice can prevent warm air from leaking outside, saving you on utility bills. Aside from this, make sure to insulate your attic roof and garage doors. Failure to insulate your home areas can bring indoor temperatures down and even close to outdoor degrees.
3. Remove air conditioners before winter starts.
Window air conditioners can leak a significant amount of warm air out of your home during winter. On top of this, window units can become unstable when piled with snow. This can damage your siding and potentially harm anyone passing by, more so during a snowstorm. Leaving your air conditioner outside during winter can also damage the equipment itself due to condensation and possible rusting. Make sure to remove your window units before the chilly climate sets in.
4. Check your roof for any damages and have it fixed immediately.
Take the time to climb up onto your roof and carefully inspect it for damage or loose shingles. High winter winds can further loosen any roof shingle, which can let water and ice into your home during snowfall. You can also hire a professional contractor to inspect your roof and fix any damage if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.
5. Clean your gutters and chimneys.
Hire a certified chimney sweep to inspect your chimney for any creosote buildup. Creosote is an extremely flammable black substance that can cause chimneys to ignite internally. Failure to remove it can wreck your chimney, or worse, turn into a deadly house fire.
Aside from your chimney, cleaning your gutters is another crucial step in winter preparation. This will allow your gutters to handle significant amounts of water from melting snow. However, gutter maintenance can be quite laborious, so don’t hesitate to seek professional help.
6. Protect your pipes.
Cover any exposed pipes and outdoor water lines with heat tape or any insulation material to prevent them from freezing. Failure to insulate can cause your pipes to expand, crack, or even burst due to frozen water inside. Such a scenario can lead to water supply damage, the development of toxic molds inside your pipes, and even flooding inside your home.
7. Ensure that the water drains away from the foundation of your house.
Water from melted snow can overflow from your gutter, eroding the ground next to your house’s foundation. As a result, snowmelt can leak through your basement. Creating a drainage slope can keep water away from the foundation of your home. You can also re-grade the soil around your house or install diverters. This will let the water drain away from the foundation.
Winterizing your home’s exterior can be quite tedious and expensive. However, doing a bit of dirty work is always better than feeling sorry after the damage has been done.