How to Prepare Your Home for a Winter Storm

While a winter storm may be the main ingredient for a cozy day indoors, it can also mean major damage to your home or business if you’re not properly prepared. Here are things you can do before and after a winter storm – whether it’s ice, snow, sleet, wind, rain, or a little bit of everything – to ensure your property remains damage-free!

Before a storm…

Double-check your exterior. Clear your roof and rain gutters from as much debris as you can. This prevents build up that can lead to water damage. (Check out our post on how to properly and safely clean out your rain gutters!) Bring in a professional to give your roof a checkup if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself.

Insulate your pipes. Frozen pipes are one of the leading causes of water damage inside the home, and winter can be the worst. Leave cabinet doors open at night to let the heat get to your pipes. Turn off the water supply if you’re going to be gone. Another tried and true method is to keep a small bit of water flowing from your faucet at night to help prevent freezing. Some people swear by wrapping their pipes in old towels as an effective means of insulation, and don’t forget about your basement, crawl space, or garage pipes!

Insulate your windows. They can be a culprit of heat loss if not properly insulated. They may also pose a potential cause of mold and mildew, too. Use rubber weather stripping or clear insulation film to keep out the cold. If it’s in your budget, consider purchasing some insulated curtains for the cold weather.

If you know the storm is coming ahead of time, make sure you’re prepared practically. Don’t plan on any major traveling and avoid running quick errands. Check out our list of emergency kit items every home should have, and think about adding some to your car too just in case. Be sure you have plenty of blankets and winterwear in case of an unexpected power outage and remember to put pets and livestock in some form of insulated shelter with food and water. Along with our emergency kit essentials, it may be wise to have a snow kit too! Include some rock salt or snow melt, sand to help with traction, and a snow shovel just in case.

Clean up the yard. By now, many people have winterized their yards. But if a big winter storm is on its way, you may want to take it a step further. Bring in the Christmas decorations and winter toys that heavy winds could easily blow away. If you’ve already hung up your lights, go ahead and leave them alone. As for any additional decorations (such as blow-up snowmen and Santas) feel free to bring into the garage. Haven’t hung up your lights? Wait out the storm until you do.

If you haven’t already, cut down any trees or branches that may be a potential threat to the safety of your family, customers, home, or business. The effect of heavy snow or wind on a weak branch can lead to a lot of damage.

After the storm…

Make sure gutters and roof are clear of snow, especially if your roof has areas that are damaged. Too much snow could lead to a collapsed roof if it doesn’t melt fast enough! Use proper safety measures of course, but at least take a broom and remove some snow so that it can melt a bit more easily.

Remove snow and ice from doorways and window seals (see our post here on how to properly clean out window wells!) Also, be sure to check air and exhaust vents for snow and ice so that it can also be removed.

Check the areas in your home that are more prone to water damage (basements, for example) and make sure everything seems normal. It’s better to catch something sooner rather than later when it comes to potential home damage.

Use that snow kit mentioned earlier and clear some walking and driving paths around your home and business. Sprinkle the snow melt and sand to help with traction. Consider shoveling your neighbor’s drive or walkway too – tis the season!

If you notice any power lines near your home that the storm damaged, report these to authorities as they can be deadly even in several feet of snow!