Preparing your House for Winter

Many people don’t think of getting ready for winter until it’s upon them, and that’s a mistake. The time to prep for one season is at the end of the previous one, so you’re never caught off guard. Not preparing your house for winter can mean damage to your home and endless headache and expense for you. Here’s a look at five ways you can get a head start on preparing your house for winter and the season of snow and cold.

preparing your house for winter

Inspect your roof

Your roof can be a real Achilles heel for your home if it has any leaky or worn spots. Give it a thorough inspection at least once a year in the autumn. You want to look for:

● Worn or broken shingles or tiles
● Loose flashing
● Damage to the chimney or flues
● Mould or moss that could indicate water damage below
● Soft spots or rot

Pipe Perfection offers this great safety sheet on roof inspections for DIYers, but if this is not your thing, call a professional roofer to do the job for you. While you’re at it, get your chimney and fireplace cleaned too. Chimney fires due to residue left in the chimney cause a substantial number of home fires and deaths every year.

If you live in an older home, it may be wise to also check for heat loss through your roof (a roofing pro can do this for you), since many older homes lack good insulation in the attic. When this happens, snow on the roof melts and runs down to the gutter line, where it can refreeze and trap subsequent runoff, forcing it into your roof layers or home’s interior. This is called an ice dam and is a high risk in areas with heavy snowfall. If your area is prone to snowfall, don’t spend your winter dealing with this headache. Solve the problem further upstream by insulating your attic and/or installing rooftop ventilation.

Clean out your gutters and downspouts

The same time you do your roof inspection (preferably after the leaves have fallen), have your gutters and downspouts cleaned too. This will keep water running away from your house and also prevent water damage. Make sure your downspouts carry water far enough away from your foundation so it doesn’t pool nearby.

Check your home’s foundation

You don’t want water sitting near your foundation, or it may seep into the home. Make sure all grading flows away from your foundation. Trim back bushes and shrubs so there is space between them and your home. Also, check your foundation, both inside and outside for cracks. If you have a history of water damage, consult a structural engineer about possible solutions, and consider installing a sump pump in your basement.

Give your windows and doors a good look

Check to make sure all your windows shut properly and fasten tightly. If you have storm windows, this is the time to test them–not when the snow is already flying. If your windows are not efficient, think about installing replacement windows, which can be put into your existing frames for less than the total replacement cost. If you don’t have storm windows and live in a very cold or snowy area, adding them can save considerably on your heating bills, as can insulating window treatments. This is also the time to check your storm doors or think about installing them if they’re missing.

Get your equipment ready

If you need an ice melting product, try to find one that is eco-friendly. Usually products that say they are “pet-friendly” are your best bet. These usually use magnesium chloride as the primary ingredient. Think about using even more environmentally conscious materials where you can, like sand, cat litter, ashes or sawdust. These won’t melt snow, but they’ll give you good traction.

Millions of children around the world depend on Santa every year. Don’t let them down by making your roof or chimney the place where he gets stuck. With a little attention to detail now, your home will be winter-ready, and you can just sit back and enjoy the fire from inside your cosy house.

Got a problem with your roof or guttering? Post a job on Rated People in our roofer category to receive quotes from our qualified and trusted tradesmen.

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3 comments

  1. I it of any value and /or saving to have foam under roof tile insulation installed similar to those that advertise in the National press or the spay foam that can be bought at most leading d I y stores

    1. The foam spray is a disaster. I have several friends who had the entire roof done professionally about 10 years ago and every one of them has had to have the entire roof taken down and re battened and tiled/slated. Ift stops the roof space from beathing and it also stops natural movement of the slates/tiles so instead of moving over each other they crack. Personally I would never entertain it, just as I would not entertain cladding on top of a brick exterior – stops the house from breathing!
      Perhaps others have a different viewpoint.

    2. I cannot comment on polystyrene foam, but avoid AT ALL COSTS the spray foam! I bought a house which had had that done several years ago by the local council, in a drive to improve energy efficiency. In the buyer’s survey, there was an advisory note that the foam will most likely cause problems in future. True enough, two years down the line, I had to replace my entire roof.
      What the expanding foam does is to stop the rafters and battens from breathing, so any small leak in really bad weather, or condensation from the house, can cause them to rot.

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