10 Ways to Winterize your Midwest Home

December 1, 2017

10 Ways to Winterize your Midwest Home

December 1, 2017

Winters here in Indiana—just like anywhere in the Midwest—can be severe. Your home is your most significant financial investment, so it’s extremely important to prepare it well for winter. The inevitable freeze-thaw cycle, high winds, freak snowstorms and pounding rain can wreak havoc, but there’s a lot you can do to prevent or minimize winter damage to your home, particularly if you follow these 10 home winterization steps:

1. Inspect, Clean and Repair Your Roof and Gutters

This time of year, be sure to inspect all of your gutters and your roof. Repair any damage if necessary, and be absolutely sure to clean out the gutters and downspouts. Fall leaves, animal nests and anything else should be removed so that water can efficiently flow off of the roof and away from your home and its foundation.Clogged gutters that fester over the winter can cause water leaks in your home and damage to the foundation. Not only that, but during particularly harsh winters with a lot of snow, ice dams can form, causing more leaks and roof damage. Ice dams often form due to insufficient insulation in the attic (see point 9). This one home winterization tip alone can save you and your family thousands of dollars in water damage and a whole lot of hassle!

2. Seal Asphalt Driveways

The wild variations in temperature we experience here in Indiana over the winter can cause significant damage to asphalt driveways. Water can infiltrate small cracks in your driveway during warm wet weather. When the temperatures dip below freezing, that water freezes and becomes ice that expands, making the cracks bigger and more expensive to fix—sometimes entire chunks of asphalt come loose, causing potholes. Regularly inspect your driveway for cracks and remove debris. Have your driveway sealed on a regular basis (usually every 2-3 years). A warm summer day is actually the perfect time to have this done (put on your calendar next year). Seal-coating fills and repairs small cracks from water infiltration so they don’t get big and expensive.

3. Search for Leaks around Windows and Doors

Inspect both water and air leaks around every window and door to your home. The source of any water leaks should be found and repaired immediately. Drafty air leaks should also be repaired with the appropriate weatherstripping or insulation to cut down on heat loss and winter energy bills. If you have screen doors, have your contractor swap them out for new storm doors that can help prevent energy and heat loss. Also, consider updating any older windows to more energy-efficient storm windows.

4. Protect Your Pipes

We cannot stress this one enough—burst pipes can cause all kinds of water damage and misery in the winter, butyou can take many steps to prevent this from happening:

  • Disconnect all hoses and store them over the winter
  • Drain all of the outside pipes so no water is left to freeze, thaw and burst the pipesWinterize your sprinkler systems
  • Make sure pipes are insulated to protect them from excessively cold temperatures
  • If you go away for the winter, make sure your thermostat keeps the heat in your home to at least 55-60degrees to keep pipes from freezing
  • Just to make sure, have your contractor check the pipes and water main to ensure it’s all ready forwhatever winter brings

5. Give Your Furnace a Checkup

Have your furnace checked to make sure it is in top condition before cold weather hits. Make sure the filter has been changed and that all of the ducts are clean, in good repair, and that there are no leaks in the system. Also, double check that the furnace and other exhaust vents are clear of snow accumulation on a regular basis. It’s very important to have a professional help you with the furnace, ventilation, and pipes so you don’t have any nasty surprises during a cold snap.

6. Fireplace Maintenance

If you have a fireplace, your home and family’s safety depends on having the chimney’s swept and maintained.Check that the damper opens and closes. Double check the condition of the bricks and mortar and, if necessary, have a screen installed at the top of the chimney to prevent small animals from coming inside.

7. Check and Service Your Snow Blower

Before the first snow hits, you want to make sure your snow blower is ready for action. Fill it with gas and oil, double check the spark plugs and make sure it’s otherwise in full working order. Also, make sure you have easy access to snow shovels and that you have a good supply of de-icing salt to prevent trips, falls and accidents on your property.

Conversely, put your lawnmower and other warm weather yard equipment to bed properly for the winter by draining the oil and gas and draining all of the hoses before you store them.

8. Prepare Your Yard: Trim Trees and Vegetation

Have any trees and bushes near your home inspected and trimmed—particularly any with limbs overhanging the roof or close to windows. Wild wind and ice storms can snap these trees and cause them to crash into your home.

Even if they’re healthy, limbs too close to the house can brush against the siding and roof, causing damage.

9. Insulate Your Whole House

Check all of the areas of your home where insulation might be insufficient. Improper attic insulation can cause ice jams, for example. The walls, doors, windows, ducts, and areas where pipes or wires enter the house also need to be checked. Improve insulation wherever it’s currently insufficient.

10. Prepare for Winter Weather and Power Outages

Blizzards, ice storms, and other mishaps can cause widespread power outages, so be prepared. Consider talking to your contractor about installing an emergency generator. Make sure to have an easily-accessible emergency kit with flashlights, extra batteries, an emergency radio (with a hand-crank option to help charge your cell phone),blankets, cold weather gear (gloves, scarves, hats, boots), non-perishable (easy-to- prepare-without- electricity)foods and extra water. If you have a fireplace, make sure you’ve got plenty of firewood stocked up.

Contact your Riverside Construction team to help you accomplish any of the items on this home winterization checklist, even if it’s just a recommendation for a potential service provider. We want to make sure you are prepared for winter’s worst! By following these helpful winterizing tips, you’ll have peace of mind, improve your safety and save you money all season long!

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