Winter can take a toll on a home. You know the drill: freezing pipes, snow and salt on your floors, ice on the roof—sometimes winter can feel like one, long homeowner headache. Which is why it’s important to prepare your home for the realities of this cold season—reducing the amount of work you need to do while you wait for summer.
Use these five home upgrades to help your home handle the wear and tear of winter.
1) Assess your roof
Heavy rain, pelting ice, piled up snow, and strong wind all chip away at your roof during the winter. Pre-season maintenance keeps your original roof intact. Megan Wild, home maintenance expert, suggests completing the following tasks:
Clean off debris, not just from the rooftop but also the gutters.
Check your base or sheathing, and make sure it’s in good shape. The wood underneath the shingles or exterior materials makes up the roof sheath, as well as the felt paper layer on top of the wood. If either layer is retaining moisture or has tears or cracks, you need to replace them.
Replace any loose or missing shingles, and if you don’t use shingles consider switching over. Shingles are more waterproof than single-ply rooftops or panel-type roofs.
To be sure, hire a roofing expert to do the assessment for you—they’ll know whether you need to replace anything or take care of bigger issues before winter weather sets in.
2) Update garage flooring
Your garage is one of the most common places you walk through to enter your home, and as such, it takes a serious beating during the cold, winter months. Reduce the amount of wear and tear on yourself (avoid slipping!) and the garage floor by installing epoxy flooring.
Benefits include slip resistance and durability, according to How Can Epoxy Flooring Make My Garage Safer?:
“[Epoxy] will solve the issue of spills that never quite go away, and it will do so with its design that will allow spills to be wiped away easily and completely. Second, epoxy flooring will provide more slip resistance than bare concrete will. Slip resistance is vital in a garage, whether that garage be personal or commercial. With all the sharp and heavy objects that there are to fall into in a garage.”
3) Clean and seal your decks
Fall is the time to prepare your decks for the wear and tear of winter weather. Start by cleaning with a power washer, but don’t stop there. Now it’s time to reseal with a weather resistant coating:
“After cleaning, it’s important to apply a water-repellent finish to protect your deck against the damaging effects of winter. Moisture such as ice, snow, sleet and rain can penetrate an unprotected surface, which can cause splitting, cracking and warping,” according to HGTV’s Protect Your Deck This Winter.
Put all your furniture in a safe, warm and dry place for storage to keep it in good shape for spring and summer. Finally, place a few bags of salt or sand by each door to ensure safety on snowy, icy days.
4) Insulate your attic
One of the most significant sources of heat loss in the winter can come from an improperly insulated attic. Adding insulation can cut your energy costs by up to $600 per year, according to House Logic, making this project important for year-round financial savings, in addition to winter weather protection.
If you’ve never installed insulation before, check out this guide from Energy.gov, which will help you determine recommended R-values, cost, type of insulation and more.
5) Check and prepare exposed and exterior pipes
During the winter months, water pipes that lead outdoors or are located outside, without insulation, can freeze and burst, causing flooding and your next big headache. The worst part is it doesn’t take much to cause the pipes to burst:
“A 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can spew up to 250 gallons of water a day, causing flooding, serious structural damage, and the immediate potential for mold,” according to home experts at State Farm.
Start by turning off the valves that lead to the outside pipes. Once this valve is turned off, run water in the outside pipes until the pipes are empty, giving no opportunity for water to be left behind and freeze. State Farm also recommends the following:
Insulate pipes in the home’s crawl space or attic
Use heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables to keep pipes warm, and reduce the likelihood of them freezing
Seal leaks that allow cold air in
Get ready for winter
Add these projects to your to-do list this November and tackle each one before the cold weather sneaks in. Your home will be ready for winter’s heavy hand and come spring, you’ll be glad you put in the extra work. Even if you’re buying a new home or just moved into one, remember these tips!
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a full-time blogger. She is also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition specialist, and the owner of Honest Body Fitness. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for health articles, new workouts and more.