Winter weather presents unique challenges for anyone who owns a home. You don’t have the help of a landlord or maintenance team to fix whatever suddenly needs a repair, so planning for weather-related challenges is key to staying safe. Here’s what you need to know about homeownership this winter to avoid expensive surprises or emergencies.
1. Prep Your Snow Removal Tools
If you live in a snowy climate, you’ll need to stock up on specific tools to protect your property. Shovels help clear off your driveway after a snowstorm, and a handheld scraper will remove ice from your car’s windshield.
You should also figure out when to lay salt on your driveway before a storm so you can still run errands or go to work the next day. If you’re worried about how it may affect your car’s paint quality, you can exchange it for sand to keep ice from cementing to your driveway.
2. Clear Out Your Gutters
Fall storms sweep leaves and other debris across your property to prepare the world for winter. They also clog your home’s gutters. Remember to clear out any clogs before freezing water traps them and potentially damages the piping. It only takes a few minutes and should keep your gutters clear through the spring.
3. Consider Your Landscaping
Your outdoor plants may not live through the winter if you only consider spring and summer weather. Bring your potted plants indoors if you want to help them grow. You can also replace your outdoor landscaping with winter-proof varieties so your yard still looks green and healthy between snowstorms.
4. Watch Your Windows
Cold outdoor weather and warm indoor air create condensation on your windows. It’s easy to forget about it because the condensation hides behind blinds, but it could create a health hazard. Condensation makes the perfect environment for mold growth that triggers respiratory issues.
Watch your windows and clean them any time mold appears. You can battle mold in between cleanings by maintaining a 30%-50% humidity level in your home. Slightly drier air keeps additional condensation from forming on windows.
5. Remember Your Pipes
Many homeowners don’t know that water sits in your plumbing while the faucets remain off. It may freeze because nightly outdoor weather affects the water from the outside in. As it thaws and refreezes, your pipes could begin to crack.
If the forecast predicts freezing weather during the night, leave your cabinets open to keep them warm. You might also add insulation around the pipes if freezes are standard where you live.
6. Clean Out Your Fireplace
There’s no need to use your fireplace over the summer, so it’s likely been many months since you last used it to keep warm. Before lighting your first winter fire, remember to clean out your fireplace and schedule a chimney inspection.
Removing extra ash and flammable materials gives you more control over future flames, but it doesn’t make it safe to use. You also have to get a professional to remove debris from your chimney. Buildup, leaves and potential animal nests create barriers that redirect smoke into your home.
You’re more likely to suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning if your chimney doesn’t properly ventilate smoke. After your professional chimney cleaning, plug a carbon monoxide detector into an electrical outlet close to your fireplace. It’s an extra measure to protect yourself and your loved ones throughout the winter.
7. Lower Your Thermostat
Turning your thermostat up is the quickest way to stay warm, but it also raises your bills. You’ll save more money by lowering your thermostat at night while everyone sleeps. They can pile on blankets to warm up instead. Your heating system won’t kick on while no one’s awake and drive your electric bill up.
8. Review Fire Safety Practice
House fires can be more likely during the winter. People use fireplaces again, leave space heaters plugged in and cook more warm meals over the stove. An emergency can happen even with the most careful precautions, so review your family’s fire safety plan with everyone in your household.
Talk about how to escape a hall filled with smoke and where everyone should meet when they get outside. If all family members are on the same page, you’ll have less to worry about if a fire occurs. It’s also an excellent chance to review what your smoke detectors sound like when they go off and replace their batteries if needed.
Prepare for Homeownership This Winter
It isn’t always possible to prevent emergencies, but you can start preparing for anything. These tips will help you stay safe, warm and happy through spring by becoming proactive before the first big snowfall. Then, you can relax and watch the flakes come down from the comfort of your safe, cozy home.
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