12 Ways to Minimize Winter’s Effects On and Inside Your Home

by Chris Martin on January 21, 2014

Winter takes a toll on your body and your emotions, as well as on your cars and plants. But wintry temperatures and precipitation can also have drastic effects on your home, both inside and out. Here are a dozen steps you can take to minimize winter’s impact on your home:

  1. Clear your walkways. Whether it’s a sidewalk running alongside of or leading up to your home, make sure that it stays shoveled and clear of snow. If necessary, lay salt or sand on it to prevent ice from forming.
  2. Seal cracks in your pavement. If your driveway or sidewalk is buckling or cracking, grab some concrete filler or Portland cement and seal them up. Ice and snow will only worsen these conditions.
  3. Rake your roof. Letting too much snowpack sit on your roof for too long can add stress to the roof joists and increase the odds of a cave-in. So invest in a long roof rake and pull some of that snow off onto the ground.
  4. Get rid of icicles. If you see icicles forming on your eaves or gutters, break them off (but don’t pull them; you could take some wood or metal with it). You don’t want these icicles to fall on their own lest someone be underneath them when it happens.
  5. Clean your gutters. Allowing leaves, twigs, and other debris to clog your gutters helps facilitate ice buildup inside them. Removing blockages helps snowmelt flow where it is supposed to.
  6. Trim your trees. A good rule of thumb is to have all overhanging branches and limbs cut at least three feet away from your roofline. Otherwise, they run the risk of falling in a storm and significantly damaging your home.
  7. Inspect all of your heaters and smoke detectors. Make sure your smoke detectors have fresh batteries to alert you in case of a fire. And have your heater(s) checked by a trained professional so they run safely and efficiently.
  8. Plug openings. If you take a smoke pencil or incense stick through your residence, wherever the smoke dances is where air could be leaking into or out of your home. Then you can seal these gaps with caulk or weatherstripping.
  9. Insulate your roof, walls, and ceilings. If your roof is not well-insulated, ice dams can form on your eaves and gutters. And poorly-insulated walls and ceilings allow warm air to escape, resulting in higher utility bills.
  10. Wrap pipes. Obviously, you should do this with exterior pipes. But you should consider doing the same for pipes in your basement or attic. It’s also wise to leave cabinet doors open in your garage or kitchen if pipes are present in order to allow warmer air to circulate around them.
  11. Reverse your ceiling fans. Remember that switch on your ceiling fan that causes the blades to spin in the other direction? That’s for wintertime, where the fan can pull cool air out upward and allow warm air to settle into a room better.
  12. Lay down an entrance mat by your front door. If you don’t want to be constantly cleaning floors (or slipping on them) from tracked-in dirt or moisture, a strategically-placed, heavy-duty entrance mat can help trap the soils and liquid before letting it get onto your floors.

Image credit #3: Ultimate Mats

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