Prepping for Winter is easy when you have a detailed checklist to follow. From inspecting your HVAC system to having your fans in reverse mode, preparing for snow storm to house fire.
I got you covered.
- Check Food Supplies
- Have a Snow Shovel
- Get a Snow Blower
- Prepare for Storms
- Prepare the Windows
- Prepping the Heating System
- Have the Ceiling Fans in Reverse Mode
- Add Insulation
- Prepping the Pipes
- Prepping the Sump Pump
- Check the Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors
- Prepping the Backup Power Source
- Prepping the roof for Getting Rid of Ice Dams
- Sweep the Gutters
- Check the Roof for Leaks
- Store Outdoor Items and Furniture
- Get some Outdoor-Specific Lighting
- Prepping the Nearby Trees
- Prepping the Sand and Salt
- Double-check the House’s Exterior
- Use Fertilizers on the Lawn
- Get Prepared for the Cold Snap
With winter just around the corner, I have a lot of preparations to do. Preparing for one might sound easy, but things can get hectic if I lose my focus. If you’re also having a hard time with winter home maintenance, then let me share a checklist that might help.
Check Food Supplies
It’s important not to be taken by surprise by lacking the essentials during the winter season. Stocking up on food and other necessities will help make things more comfortable. Luckily, it’s easy to refrigerate food during winter.
Be sure to get ingredients for making hot soup. Root vegetables are great for winter since they can survive the cold. That means farmers can still deliver them even during the cold season. Cauliflower and broccoli are great for boosting your immune system during winter.
I also recommend having spicy food, especially with tuna. It’s perfect for the colder days! Also, don’t forget the oatmeal. It’s a energetic breakfast during the winter. Additionally, you have to stock up on food with high nutrition. As much as possible, save the canned foods for emergencies.
Have a Snow Shovel
Compared to the regular shovel, a snow shovel‘s design is specifically for clearing pathways covered in snow. Having a traditional snow shovel is fine. If you want to clear the driveway of snow quickly, get a snow scoop shovel.
It would be best to avoid using an ordinary shovel since that’s not too useful in winter. Fortunately, snow shovels are affordable. Getting one from the local hardware store shouldn’t be too hard.
Pros of a Snow Shovel
- Easy to use
- Easy to store
- Minimal maintenance
Cons of a Snow Shovel
- Can be heavy with wide blade
- Manual labor required
Get a Snow Blower
Snow Blowers also known as snow thrower. Its function is similar to a vacuum. The snow thrower has a chute that throws the snow pulled by the auger. If the brute force of a snow shovel won’t be enough, have this smart solution.
You can always use a snow shovel, but there are times when you won’t be able to. It’s also easy to use since it uses electricity or diesel. A snow blower can be pricey, but it’s worth the investment.
There are also different kinds. I recommend getting a model with an adjustable deflector.
Pros of a Snow Thrower
- Minimal labor required
- Easy to store
Cons of a Snow Thrower
- Needs regular maintenance
- Power or fuel-dependent
Prepare for Storms
Winter storms aren’t as cozy as I thought them to be. Expect for snowstorms to last for a few days. Get the essentials ready. That includes the snow shovel. The emergency food supply will come in handy for this situation. Also, don’t forget to have a working radio. Be sure to have spare batteries for it.
Get the kerosene heater ready if you have it. Have the fire extinguishers ready too. A house fire can happen during a winter storm, but that’s not exactly a heat source you’d want.
Overall, insulation is essential against winter storms. Also, don’t forget to get the thicker winter clothes ready. Other than that, stay tuned to the weather forecast.
Prepare the Windows
Weather-stripping windows is guaranteed to help. That means sealing the openings on windows. Different kinds of weather strips are also available.
- Tension Seal, Also known as the V strip. It’s perfect for sliding and double-hung windows. Additionally, installing it isn’t too hard.
- Foam tape, Applied on window sashes. Different thicknesses and lengths. Therefore, a perfect material for sealing windows with irregular gaps or cracks. Alternatively, you can use silicone caulk (sealant).
- Felt, Can be bought in rolls. It’s affordable but won’t last for more than two years. Apply this on the window sash.
Check the Heating System
Checking the heating system is a no-brainer and yet often underestimated. Surviving winter is not possible without a heating system. Heating systems can vary, of course.
Prepping the Furnace
Furnace is one of the most common central heating systems for most American homes. It blows heated air through ducts and vents. There are fuel, natural gas, and electric variants. Frequent replacement of the filters is essential for this system’s maintenance. Tidying the ducts and vents is also part of the routine.
Prepping the Heat Pump
Heat pumps heated air through the house. It essentially has the opposite function of an air conditioner. Checking the ducts and filters will help prevent any malfunctions in the heat pump. I also recommend checking if its airflow is adequate. It’s one of the easiest ways to tell if something’s wrong with it.
Prepping the Electric Space Heaters
Electric space heaters function by converting electrical energy into heat. Buying one doesn’t cost too much. However, it requires a lot of power to run. You should be careful when using this heating system to prevent a house fire. A proper electrical setup is also a must for this heating system. Most of them have a wattage of 1,500. I like the safety and ease of use offered by Mr. Heater.
Prepping the Wood Heating
As the name suggests, a wood stove is required. However, it would be best to get a pellet stove since it’s a practical choice today. Additionally, wood heating can help save costs. For maintenance, you have to check for any deterioration or damage. What’s important is that you use quality firewood for the stove. Burning materials other than wood is a no-no. Also, avoid using driftwood.
Prepping the Fireplace
Fireplaces are an obvious choice, but it’s not as efficient as other heating systems. Of course, modifications can help with that, such as a modified chimney damper or sealed fireplace doors. A routine check on the chimney should do for maintenance. That includes cleaning it and dusting off soot buildup.
Or maybe you’d like to get an electric fireplace.
Maintaining HVAC systems can be tricky, it’s best to have a professional do the heavy lifting.
Have the Ceiling Fans in Reverse Mode
Get at least one if you don’t have it yet. Having the blades run clockwise pushes the heated air down. Very useful for houses with high ceilings. It also allows heating systems to have better efficiency.
Insulation is crucial to minimize the loss of heat in your home. It’s like putting on winter clothes to your home. Window insulation seals and door seals will help. Insulations for winter can vary in types. Using blanket rolls is a DIY solution. For spray foams and concrete, hire a professional insulation installer if you can. They’ll also know what to use depending on the home’s design.
Check the Pipes
Pipes with frozen water is always bad news. Many forget, but water expands as it freezes. The last thing that you want to happen is a pipe bursting in the winter. It’s also a necessary measure to maintain the heating systems. There are some things that you can do by yourself before winter.
Disconnect Outdoor Hoses
The cold can creep up to the faucet and cause the connected pipes to freeze during winter. It’s best to store the hoses once the cold season starts.
Install Frost-free Sill Cocks
Having frost-free sill cocks on the outdoor faucets will surely help in preventing frozen pipes. You can get them for as low as 15 bucks from home centers.
Insulate the Pipes
One of the best ways to do this is to install heat cables. I recommend having a professional do this one for you. Insulation foams also make for a proper alternative.
Check the Water Tank
Flush it to remove sediment. I also prefer using insulation wraps to keep it from quickly losing heat. I usually do this on my own, but there were a few times I had to hire a pro to check its condition.
Have the Sump Pump Checked
As you know, sump pumps keep sump basins dry; basements below the water table. Keeping the basement dry is part of winter preparations. A sump pump typically lasts for at least a decade. But check if it still works before every winter.
Pour at least five gallons of water around the sump pump or in the sump pit to see if it’s working. If it’s not, have a plumber check the problem. There are also different types of sump pumps that you can get.
Pedestal Sump Pump
Pedestal sump pump has its motor above the sump pit. While it is a convenient option, there are certain drawbacks to it. One of those would be the noise that comes from the motor. Another would be the fact that it’s not ideal for most low-level properties.
Of course, this is one of the better options if you don’t want to replace the sump pump for the next 20 years. I also like this type because it’s easy to maintain since the motor is exposed.
Water-Powered Sump Pump
Just as it says, water-powered sump pumps do not require electricity to function. Instead, you’ll need water pressure to keep it running. That also means having a running connection with the municipal water supply.
Another advantage of this sump pump is that it requires little to zero maintenance. It’s perfect if you don’t want to replace the sump pump for a few decades. It’s also ideal as a backup pump if the main one got busted.
Submersible Sump Pump
As the name implies, a submersible sump pump needs to be deep in the sump pit. Due to its design, its efficiency is top class. However, submersible pumps are expensive. They also tend to break down after five to ten years.
Battery-Powered Sump Pump
Battery-powered pump is similar to the submersible type. The difference lies in the battery that comes with it. Like the water-powered sump pump, a battery-powered pump is ideal as a backup. Winter storms can cause power outage so having this one is a good measure of preparation.
There are also things that you can do to maintain the sump pump. One of those would be to clean it often. A sump pump can get dirty due to its setup.
Making sure it’s not clogged or damaged will prolong its expected lifespan. If it seems broken and you’re out of ideas, it’d be best to hire a professional to handle the rest.
Check the Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors
The cold does not protect the house from fire. Heating systems can also cause a fire. Check the batteries and use the test function for this one. Refer to the manufacturer’s instruction manual if you’re confused.
Get a Backup Power Source; Get a Generator
A power outage can happen, especially during a winter storm. If the power’s out, the heating system is compromised. A diesel generator is what I’d recommend.
It’s a bit noisy, but it generates some heat in the vicinity. Additionally, the generator must at least have a wattage of 3,000. That should be enough to run the essential heating systems.
Have a Plan for Getting Rid of Ice Dams on the Roof
You can prevent ice dams by having a cold roof. Ice dams form because the snow on it melts from the warm temperature of the roof’s surface. Also, get a snow rake to prevent ice dams after a heavy snowfall.
There are products you can use to prevent ice dams:
Ice Melt Socks
Ice melt sock is an ideal option for preventing ice dams. It’s also easy to make with minimal costs. All you need are nylon stockings and at least three pounds of Calcium Chloride ice melt.
Then, place it vertically on the slope of the roof. The ice melt sock will prevent the water from accumulating on the gutters. A three-meter space between each sock should do the trick.
Placing ice melt socks on the roof gutters will also improve the prevention of ice dams.
Ice Melt Pucks
Ice melt pucks are similar to the ice melt socks. but, not as effective. Pucks don’t create a channel for the melted snow. The main advantage of this pucks is that, minimal labor is required to install them.
Heat cables are a similar concept to the heating cables for pipes. However, installing them can prove to be a challenge. I always hire a pro to do that for me since I’m afraid to damage the roof while installing the cables.
Integrated Heating System
Integrated heating system is a very effective method of preventing ice dams. The roof becomes a heating panel. However, it’s an expensive measure against ice dams. There’s also the need for a professional to do all the installation.
Sweep the Gutters
Check the Roof for Leaks
Having a damaged roof is one thing to watch out for before the cold season starts. Flashing is a great way to fix and prevent potential leaks. Its function includes diverting the flow of water.
For instance, the intersection of dormer roofs needs flashing to prevent leaks and redirect the flow to the gutter. In winter, the snow will melt as a result of preventing ice dams.
Roof flashings are commonly made of galvanized steel sheets to prevent rusting. Of course, there’s roof flashings made from rubber or plastic. In any case, I prefer hiring a professional roofer to avoid unnecessary damage when installing the flashings.
Store Outdoor Items and Furniture
That includes garden tools and the like. Don’t forget to drain the garden hose and store it after. It would be a hassle to clean them up after winter. Leaving them out in the cold can also cause damage. If you can’t get the furniture in the storage, at least cover them properly.
Get some Outdoor-Specific Lighting
With the heavy snow and cold, you need specific-grade lighting for the holidays. The typical ones won’t work during winter and might cause a problem in the home’s electrical system. Using LED floodlights and wall packs would be ideal.
Trim the Branches of the Nearby Trees
Snow can accumulate on the tree arms quickly and cause them to snap. If you can’t do this yourself, hire somebody for help.
Buy Sand and Salt before Winter
Salt makes quick work of the snow. However, you have to know the kind of salt you’ll use. At lower temperatures, salt becomes inefficient when melting snow. As for the sand, it is best against frozen or icy surfaces. That said, sand needs reapplication if the snow buried it.
That’s why it’s necessary to have salt to melt the snow. Remember, use sand if the pathways are slippery. This preparation also prevents nasty fall injuries. I think you agree with the idea of not falling on your butt every time you try to sweep the driveway.
Double-check the House’s Exterior
Fix any significant damage on the walls if you don’t want the heating system to struggle in keeping you warm and cozy. Also, don’t forget to cover the air conditioner. It usually has protection, but cover it anyway. Check for tools that you might have missed.
Use Fertilizers on the Lawn
There are different kinds. Getting the one with 0% phosphates can be pricey, but it’s worth your money. Also, don’t plow or shovel the snow off from the grass. It serves as protection.
Get Ready for the Cold Snap
Doing so is similar to standard winter preparations. However, keep in mind that cold snap temperature can drop drastically. Before that happens, you must have already checked the central heating system.
You may need to adjust it to cope with the situation. Also, have the generator ready in case of a power outage. If the kitchen pipes don’t have heating cables, you have to expose them to the heated air.
Opening the sink cabinet should do the trick. Also, don’t forget to keep the faucets running. It helps prevent pipes from bursting due to frozen water.
More importantly, watch the weather news or listen to the radio for updates.
Prepare as Early as Possible
Don’t be complacent since snowfall can happen earlier than expected, especially with the current state of the planet’s climate. Get the repairs done before fall.
Set up the salt and sand pathways once the cold season starts. It would also be ideal to stock up on food supply at the end of the fall season. You can get the canned goods earlier, but be sure to check the expiration dates.
Always plan for emergencies in the winter. The cold season is unforgiving to the unprepared.
Prepping for winter can differ depending on the geography. Of course, heating will always be a priority. Specific measures play roles in keeping a household well-heated and insulated. Proper supplies are also needed. That means food and water.
Additionally, that includes the ones that will make your life easier during the winter season, such as sand, salt, ceiling fan with a reverse function, generator, backup sump pump, and snow removers.
Having a reliable maintenance checklist helps a lot with readiness for the winter. I sure hope my winter checklist serves the purpose.
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