Winter weather is harsh, and homes can take a beating, if they are not protected from the icy cold and wind. Freezing and thawing, wind, and heavy snow can cause expensive damage and energy loss.
Insulation is probably the first thing you think of when winter rolls around. Having the right amount of insulation in walls and attics not only keeps you warmer and saves energy, it protects the interior walls of your home. Cold interior walls, combined with heat from the inside, coupled with the lack of air circulation in the winter, is a good way for mold and mildew to form. Inadequately insulated attic doors allow heat to enter the attic, causing condensation and mold damage to the roof and walls.
Water pipes will freeze and break if they are in cold crawl spaces, or even too near outside walls. Wrap these pipes with insulating tape, or electrical tape to prevent damage.
Before the winter weather sets in, take a look at your shingles, siding, gutters, and downspouts. Loose shingles and siding should be repaired or replaced. And, gutters and downspouts should be free of leaves and other debris that will cause standing water and eventually an ice dam. Close air vents that lead to crawl spaces under the house.
Make sure that your windows and doors are air tight. Check for air leaks around the frames and add insulating tape, or felt strips. Plastic shrink wrap covers can be added to windows that are especially bad, or replace them entirely with energy saving models. Door draft guards, or sweeps, do a lot to keep out cold drafts.
Check out your heating system, making sure to change filters, examine duct work for leaks, and make sure that the ventilation system is working properly. If you have a fireplace, have a professional check out the chimney for build up that should be cleaned, and make sure the flue is operating efficiently.
Not all winter protection happens inside the home. If you live in an open area, unshielded from the wind and snow, you might want to consider planting a windbreak row of trees on the west or north side of your property. This can have a positive effect on both damage to the home and the amount of cold air and snow that reaches it.
If you have a particularly heavy snow and have upper decks, flat roofs, or anywhere that layers of snow can collect, it may be necessary to remove the snow when it becomes deep. Snow buildup can weaken these areas and sometimes cause structural failure.
Homes are a big investment and well worth the effort to protect. Taking some precautions before winter sets in can help save valuable property, time and money, and energy.