Prepping your Home for Winter Weather

It was hard to prepare ourselves for the drought that spread across the country and is still lingering in Western New York and the Finger Lakes region especially. And with the unpredictable, yet typical, upstate winter weather slowly approaching it can seem daunting to prepare. However, protecting your home is critical, with even the smallest preparations and preventative maintenance making it easier to avoid staggering home repair bills.

Inside your Home:

  • Wrap the water pipes in your basements and crawl spaces with insulation sleeves to help slow heat transfer.
  • Insulate your water heater. Check out Energy Saver’s (the U.S. Department of Energy’s consumer resource) recommendations to learn more about whether your water heater already includes insulation and if not, how you should insulate.
  • Test your sump pump. Slowly pour several gallons of water into the sump pit to see that the pump turns on. You should try to do this every few months, but especially after a long dry season like we have had. For complete instructions, check your owner’s manual.
  • Let a slow trickle of water keep flowing through any faucets that are connected to pipes running through unheated or unprotected spaces. This might have a small impact on your water bill, but nothing compared to what the bill will be for a broken pipe.
  • Open your cabinet doors during cold spells to let warm air circulate around the pipes.
  • When away from your home, be aware of how much you lower the heat as to avoid any serious cold spells that could cause the pipes to freeze and burst. If your house will be vacant for a period of time, consider draining your water system.

Outside your Home:

  • Clean out your gutters, and disconnect and drain all outside hoses and faucets. If your home does not have a frost-proof faucet, turn off the shut-off valve inside the house.
  • Call a professional to have your lawn sprinkler-system drained. (*Even if water has been drained out of the system, some water typically remains and can freeze, expand and crack the PVC piping.)
  • Add extensions to your downspouts so that the water can run at least 3 – 4 feet away from your foundation.
  • If there are cracks and holes on the outside walls and your foundation, caulk it. Check your windows, and if the gap between your siding and window or door is bigger than the width of a nickel, apply some caulk. Hint: Silicone caulk is best for exterior use as it is impervious to the outside elements and won’t shrink.
  • Stock up on winter essentials! Head out to your local retailer and get your salt, shovels, snow blower, and any other winter necessities you will need for your home before they’re gone.

Prevention is key to keep your home safe, sound, and warm and cozy throughout the winter months. A bit of attention now can save you costly repairs and frustration later.