Don’t Let Winter Storms Catch You By Surprise!
5 Jobs to Handle Before it Snows
When temperatures plummet and snow starts falling, you want to be indoors with your family, not outside working in the cold. But if you don’t prepare ahead of time, you could spend the first snow frantically running around trying to prepare your home, rather than enjoying the pretty view from underneath a warm blanket. If dealing with a home crisis in the middle of winter isn’t your idea of a relaxing holiday, you need to take steps to protect your home before the first storm hits.
1. Protect your roof
Missing, loose, or broken shingles provide entry points for moisture to seep into your home. And if a particularly gusty storm blows loose shingles away, the problem could get significantly worse before spring. Homeowners should walk their roof in the fall to identify shingles in need of repair. Don’t forget to check the flashings, as they present another opportunity for water to enter your home.
2. Prevent ice dams
If you’ve never heard of an ice dam, consider yourself lucky. These walls of ice form along the edge of your roof and can cause serious structural damage if left unchecked. Ice dams occur when snow melts off the roof but freezes again on the eave. As more snow accumulates and begins to melt, water that has nowhere to go and could permeate the roof and leak into your home during Winter. To prevent ice dams, homeowners should improve insulation on their attic floor to prevent warm air from seeping into the attic and melting rooftop snow. In addition, cleaning gutters before winter weather hits ensures water has a path away from the roof.
3. Winterize your plumbing
A home that’s heated all winter hopefully won’t experience burst pipes, but if you’re expecting temperatures below 20 degrees and have exposed plumbing in unheated areas of your home, it’s a cheap insurance policy to add insulation and leave a faucet dripping on freezing nights. In addition, sprinkler systems need to be blown out and hoses disconnected from outdoor spigots before temperatures drop below freezing.
4. Trim dead tree branches
The weight of snow and ice can send dead tree branches toppling through your roof or nearby power lines. Even a strong gust of wind is enough to turn a brittle branch into a hazard. While it’s wise to leave especially large or high branches to professional Arborists, homeowners can remove most dead branches on their own with a ladder, rope, and a few tools. In addition to cutting so that the branch falls away from you, homeowners should cut carefully to prevent permanent damage to the tree. Otherwise, they could be facing the removal of a dead tree in a few years’ time. If it’s your first time trimming a tree, this advice from The Ugly Duckling House will walk you through how to do it correctly and safely.
5. Protect perennial plants
All it takes it one especially frigid night to kill perennial plants in your landscaping. Even when a plant is dormant, you may need to add extra protection from freezing temperatures. Mulching with wood chips, leaves, or straw captures heat in the ground to prevent roots from freezing, and covering plants with plastic sheeting or a lightweight fabric cover raises air temperature around plants to keep them alive. FineGardening.com offers these additional tips for protecting plants during winter.
These five steps aren’t all you can do to prepare your home for winter. Stock up on driveway deicer, ensure shovels are in good repair, and consider a backup heat source to keep your family warm during power outages. Every home should also have its own winter emergency kit that includes non-perishable food and water, battery-powered lights, a first-aid kit, and a solar charger to keep cell phones operating. While you’ll hopefully never need these emergency supplies, you’ll be thankful to have them when you do.