For countless homeowners across the midwest, this winter season has already proven to be costly, dangerous, and frightening. Between Winter Storm Delphi and Winter Storm Bella upwards of a foot of snow has now fallen over just a few days. As a result, countless homeowners have endured dangerous damages to their properties and now face expensive roof repairs and water damage with nothing but more wintery weather on the way.
If there’s anything that these severe storm conditions should teach homeowners around the country as winter weather continues to worsen it’s that having your home properly prepared for heavy snowfall, howling winds, and freezing temperatures is absolutely essential. That’s why we’ve developed an expertly designed checklist for winter weather preparation to ensure that your home and family stay safe and comfortable, no matter what the season has in store.
Snow Removal Prep
While everyone else may respond to dangerous weather conditions by stocking up on supplies and preparing to hole up while the worst passes by, the smartest thing you can do as a homeowner is have assurances that you and your family can safely get out of the home in response to anything from work still going on to your heating system suddenly giving out. That’s why the Department of Homeland Security advises homeowners to make sure they have access to several emergency supplies.
- Leave a stock of rock salt near your main exits to scatter from time to time throughout any storms which develop. Make sure to pay extra attention to staircases and walkways to keep them safe in case you need a quick exit.
- Make sure all your snow throwers and snow shovels are well maintained so you aren’t left with broken equipment in the middle of a severe storm. Furthermore, ensure that you know how to safely shovel or use your snow thrower to prevent injuries and equipment damage.
- Keep waterproof boot trays near your home’s exits to keep your flooring clean and prevent the risk of water damage from seeping into your carpeting or hardwood flooring.
Home Exterior Prep
Winter weather puts a huge amount of pressure on your home’s exterior from the roofing that defends against all the heavy snow which falls to the foundation which protects your entire home from dangerously shifting and leaning. With the serious weather conditions which the season ahead promises, inspecting, preparing, and repairing all these exterior elements ahead of the worst of winter is one of the best ways to keep property damage to a minimum through everything ahead. The authorities at FEMA recommend homeowners take a number of steps to do just that.
- Have your roof cleaned and inspected and your gutters cleaned to ensure that melting snow and ice have routes away from your home.
- Avoid piling snow near your home as it can easily seep under your siding or through your lawn to cause water damage to your foundation or basement. Homeowners with no other options are advised to invest in basement waterproofing before the worst of the season arrives.
- Inspect your home for drafts or have a professional perform a home energy audit throughout the entire structure. Based on these results apply new insulation or weatherstripping to prevent moisture build-up and freezing air infiltration.
Heating System Prep
It goes without saying that the winter season is also the heating season. Homeowners all across the country crank up the heat to stay comfortable through the bitter cold temperatures and as the conditions worsen the thermostat only gets pushed higher. It makes sense, then, that winter is the time of year when heating systems need the most care and maintenance. Not only does this ensure that the system continues to work optimally through the increased usage but also prevents dangerous health conditions which an unmaintained system tends to cause. The Center for Disease Control advises homeowners to seek professional help with maintaining their heating system on a number of points.
- Schedule water heater, HVAC, and furnace inspections as early in the season as possible and be mindful of any abnormal noises, smells, or inconsistencies in your home’s heating throughout the season. These are all indications that the system is damaged and may break down entirely if not cared for.
- If your heating system does break down, make sure that you have reliable generators or space heaters available and in good condition. Keep them clean and dry and away from furniture, excessive water, and easy access to children. Never resort to using alternative heating sources like your stove as they can very easily spark a fire.
- Invest in a combination smoke detector which can alert you to radon or carbon monoxide levels in the air. The CPSC determined that this season in particular is the most dangerous and deadly for homeowners as a result of these invisible, odorless gases.