Winter Preparedness 101: Is Your Home Ready?


It’s fall season again. The leaves have fallen from most of the trees and the air is increasingly chilled. Like it or not, we all know that winter is close behind. Before the snow starts falling and temperatures drop, it’s a good time to think about things like:

  • Preparing your home for snowstorms
  • The cost of winter heating
  • Ways to improve your home efficiency

Is your home ready for the coming winter? Not yet? Not sure? Don’t know? Don’t worry! There are a few simple steps you can take each autumn to protect against damage from winter storms and create a more efficient home.

So, let’s start exploring some steps you can take right now to prevent those wintertime headaches:

Get Ready for the Snow

First things first, make sure your house is ready for a big snowstorm. When it comes to handling those winter storms, there’s no such thing as being too prepared. Here are some tips that will help you get your home ready to handle a winter storm:

  • Have your gutters inspected for debris, and cleaned if necessary.
  • Disconnect and drain all outside hoses. If possible, shut off outside water valves.
  • Insulate walls and attics, and caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.
  • Have any roof leaks inspected and repaired.
  • Have tree branches that could fall on your house or your neighbor’s house removed.
  • Wrap water pipes in your basement or crawl spaces with insulation sleeves to slow heat transfer.
  • Consider an insulated blanket for your hot water heater.
  • If you have a fireplace, keep the flue closed when you’re not using it.
  • Have a contractor check your roof to see if it would sustain the weight of a heavy snowfall. Snow can pile up quickly in a storm and if your roof isn’t in top shape, you could experience breakage. Also have them look for missing or damaged gutters and fascia boards and repair them.
  • Make sure your furniture isn’t blocking your home’s heating vents.
  • During cold spells, keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes, particularly those in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through unheated or unprotected spaces.
  • If your house will be unattended during cold periods, consider draining the water system.
  • Avoid ice dams by keeping water from melted snow from refreezing in the gutters and seeping under the roof and soaking interior walls. Here’s how:
    • Ventilate your attic. The colder it is, the less melting and refreezing on the roof.
    • Insulate the attic floor well to minimize the amount of heat rising through the attic from within the house.
    • Consider having a water-repellent membrane installed under your roof covering.

Cut Energy Costs

There are also several quick and easy ways to cut on energy costs and save you money. When it comes to keeping the cold air outside and the warm air circulating inside, there are a few basics to keep in mind every year around this time.

  • If your ceiling fan has a reverse switch, use it to run the fan’s blades in a clockwise direction after you turn on your heat. Energy Star says the fan will produce an updraft and push down into the room heated air from the ceiling (remember, hot air rises). This is especially helpful in rooms with high ceilings — and it might even allow you to turn down your thermostat by a degree or two for greater energy savings.
  • If the gaps between siding and window or door frames are bigger than the width of a nickel, you need to reapply exterior caulk. (Check the joints in window and door frames, too.) Silicone caulk is best for exterior use because it won’t shrink and it’s impervious to the elements.
  • Be sure to examine your windows in the fall and replace any that need to be replaced. Many modern windows are energy efficient, and do a better job of keeping your home warm and your energy costs down.

As you go about the process of winterizing your home and property, don’t forget that the experts at GNH Lumber are happy answer your questions, offer guidance and provide time-saving tips! If you need winter gloves, snow shovels or window insulation, we have many items on SALE this November. Click here to view our current sales.

Sources: “Snow and Ice Removal”, This Old House magazine; “Winter Preparation & Winter Weather Tips”, Nationwide Insurance, “15 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter,”, “Prepare Your Home for Fall and Winter Weather,”