Winter is Coming: This is How to Keep it Outside Where it Belongs!October 15, 2014
In our last post, we talked about ways to keep the heat inside when temperatures plunge outside. This time we’ll talk about how to prevent the winter weather from wreaking havoc inside your home. Follow these steps to weatherize your home.
Step 1: Weather-Ready Your Roof
Before the snow starts falling, check for any buckled, missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace them before they result in a leaky roof. Make sure flashing around the chimney, walls, skylights, and vent pipes are firmly adhered and in excellent condition and seal any joints where water might penetrate with roofing cement.
Beware of Ice dams
Ice dams result when snow that has gathered on your roof melts as a result of the heat from your home and begins sliding down your roof, then refreezes when it gets to a colder spot. When enough snow refreezes in a given area, any snow or ice that follows gets dammed up behind it.
Eventually, this dam will back up to spaces that never get cold enough to freeze and the melted snow and ice will find another path—through the shingles and seams of the roof; this can quickly cause cracks through which even more water will soon seep, causing severe damage that is difficult and costly to repair.
Making sure your ceiling and attic are properly insulated can go a long way in preventing the original melt-and-freeze action that causes ice dams in the first place. If your house is designed to have a vented roof, make sure the vents are open and free from debris.
You can also have de-icing cables installed on your roof to eliminate those spaces where ice might refreeze. Remove pile-ups of snow after storms and keep your gutters clear to ensure that melted snow and ice have a safe place to go as they run down the roof.
Step 2: Clear Your Gutters
Clogged gutters can cause all kinds of trouble at the best of times. But, when temperatures drop below freezing, and snow and ice start piling up, it can melt all at once awhile later with nowhere to go and lead to siding, foundation and roof damage. It can also cause floods that can destroy your hardwood flooring.
While the weather is still mild, check your gutters and downspouts to make sure they are properly fastened and can support the weight of whatever ice and snow typically falls in your area. Once the leaves have stopped falling (or periodically as they fall), make sure to clear them out of the gutters so you can start fresh when the winter precipitation comes.
Also, make sure your downspouts spout at least four or five feet away from the house, which will help prevent flooding when all that snow and ice start to melt.
Step 3: Winterize Your Pipes
Plumbing is especially susceptible to freezing, and burst pipes can cause extremely costly damage to your home, including—altogether now—your hardwood floors. Preventing this damage, though, is not so difficult. Water lines that run along exterior walls and through uninsulated areas of the house that need insulation against the cold, and turn off exterior water faucets.
Right now, before it freezes, go ahead and disconnect your garden hoses and drain any water that remains in the faucets by turning them off from the inside, then leaving them on outside until the water stops running. You can also insulate them with special faucet cozies you can get at the hardware store. And, just in case, know how to shut off the water valves in your home.
Step 4: Trim Your Trees and Shrubs
Now is also the time to prune trees and shrubs. They are starting to shut down for the winter anyhow, so they’ll experience less shock from the trimming, plus less surface area provides less opportunity for damage from the cold. Be especially sure to cut away any limbs that could fall on your home when they get weighed down with ice or snow.
Step 5: Ready a Mudroom
Winter wet and muck can cause severe damage to hardwood floors. To prevent this, create a protected space just inside (or outside) the doors you use the most where your family and guests can leave wet boots, slickers, and umbrellas.
Remember, a mudroom doesn’t have to be a whole room. If your hardwood runs right up to your front or back doors, find a rug, or even an old piece of carpet, to fill the space in front of the door, then put a proper mat on top of it. This way you have something to trap the muck and protection against splash over.
You may also want to put a waterproof barrier underneath the carpet or rug — but, if you do, be careful that water does not get trapped underneath it (where it will have no escape but into your hardwood floors). If you have space, add a bench with cubbies underneath and a rack where folks can hang wet outerwear; this is also an excellent way to keep bulky winter gear out of the way inside the house.
Make sure, too, that the space outside the door remains clear of snow and ice, and have a heavy duty doormat where they can knock off clumps of ice and snow before they ever even come inside.
Step 6: Enjoy More of the Cozy Indoors
Here in Colorado, we have all sorts of ways to enjoy the winter months. But when the storms come in and the days get short, your home is your escape from the dreary cold. If the winter weather gets to you, make sure that inside space will cheer you up.
Inspect Your Light Bulbs:
First, make sure there are enough of them. You may want to add a few lamps around the house to provide extra light when the sun goes into hiding. Also, consider the quality of light. Full spectrum light bulbs do a much better job of mimicking sunlight than your average bulb and are less expensive and less bulky than sun-simulating UV bulbs. Also consider eco-friendly bulbs, which offer more light for the same power, giving you a brighter room even when your light fixtures may limit your wattage.
Add Some Color:
One of the benefits of hardwood is that it goes with everything, right? So change up your décor for the winter. Find a few bright pillows, throws, or curtain accents to add to your rooms. You can even find or make slipcovers for furniture with brighter patterns that will bring extra life to your indoors while the world hibernates outdoors.
Utilize More of Your Space:
In case you’re not a skier or winter hiker, you’ll need other ways to keep from becoming sedentary through the winter. Try creating a space where you can stay fit indoors. If your home is small, find a corner of a room where you could put a yoga mat or a set of weights; if you have extra space.
If you don’t have to use your garage to park your car, consider creating an exercise room or playroom for the kids; the new space doesn’t need to be elaborate — just make sure you have somewhere big enough to move around and stretch out those weary winter limbs. You can easily make the makeshift room more comfortable and appealing by adding garage floor tiles or a protective floor coating.
These tips should help you get your house ready for winter. But don’t forget, you also need to prepare your family, pets, car, and yard. There’s a lot to do before the freeze. That’s why it’s always best to get started early.