6 Easy Steps to Prepare Your Home for Winter Weather

Nesting on 11.10.12
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Photo Credit: Jeremy Bronson/ Creative Commons

The recent Nor'easter on the East Coast is a great reminder that it’s time to start preparing your home for winter weather.  Extreme weather conditions can wreck havoc on the exterior of your home and impact your safety while seeking refuge inside. Take the time to check the following items off your to do list so you can stay cozy all winter long.

1. Clean the gutters.  My calendar is set to alert me every October to clean out the gutters. Fallen leaves and even moss can clog gutters during the rainy season, which we experience in the Pacific Northwest. In other parts of the country, water blocked by debris can form ice dams, which lead to backed up gutters and can cause water to seep into the house.

2. Check the clothes dryer vents.  Go one step further than cleaning out your dryer screen after every load. Lint is extremely combustible and can quickly lead to fires. The exterior dryer vent as well as the vent hole at the back of the dryer should be checked at least twice a year. Special dryer vent brushes can be purchased and you can also use a clothes hanger or your vacuum cleaner to help get to the lint lurking deep into the vents.

3. Maintain the furnace. Things stop working when you need them the most, like the furnace breaking down during the worst snowstorm of the year.  Regular maintenance of your heating system can keep it in good working order. Building a relationship with the contractor in advance of an issue can get you on the list to be serviced during an emergency. Remember to change your furnace filter frequently. I buy a few at a time so I have a new one ready when I need it.

4. Get your chimney inspected. Turns out chimneys don’t need to be cleaned every year. However, they should be inspected at the beginning of each season. Bird’s nests and other foreign objects could have made a home in your chimney that will affect it being used safely.  If you are prone to creatures occupying your chimney, get a protective cap with a screen placed over the exterior to keep them out. The chimney damper should remain closed when it is not being used to keep your home’s warm air from escaping.

5. Cover exterior faucets. For less than $3 you can purchase reusable exterior spigot covers that will keep them insulated and warm for the winter.  Even if you turn off the water supply, ice can form inside the faucet leading to damage unless they covered appropriately. Protecting the exterior can help make sure your interior pipes don’t freeze during the winter.

6. Restock and evaluate your emergency kit. An emergency kit is something you hope to not have to use, but the stories of those affected by Hurricane Sandy and other storms can be a great reminder it is better to be prepared. There are many resources on what to put in a kit, with a general guideline of having enough food and water to last your family 72 hours. Bottled water typically lasts only about 6 months and should be used and replaced as often. For winter storms, add emergency blankets  and disposable hand warmers for added protection against the cold.

What steps do you take to prepare your home for the winter?

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