Published On: Sun, Nov 3rd, 2019

Winter’s Around the Corner: Here’s How to Prepare

In some areas of the United States, the weather is already cold enough to warrant snowfall. We may technically still be in autumn for another month or two, but the reality is, winter weather is right around the corner. If you’re a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to make sure your property is prepared for the cold winter weather ahead. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much time, money, or effort to be prepared. 


Boats, Mowers, and Other Stored Vehicles

First, think about the motor-operated vehicles and tools that you won’t be needing over winter. If you own a boat, you’re likely going to store it during the winter months. If and when you do, there are a few important steps you’ll want to take to keep the engine in good condition (and prevent wear and tear). 

For example, you can lubricate and change the oil in your engine, and add some antifreeze to prevent damage from cold weather. It’s also a good idea to keep the gas tank completely full to prevent condensation. Keep the boat tightly covered when you store it.

If you have a gas-powered lawn mower, you’ll want to treat it somewhat similarly. Depending on your circumstances, you may want to add fuel stabilizer to your fuel tank, and keep the mower covered when you store it for the winter. 

Hoses and Outdoor Water Lines

Hoses and outdoor-facing water lines are frequent causes of damage during winter. If you aren’t careful, the outdoor spigot and pipes could freeze, leading to damage to the inside of your house. Detach any hoses on the outside of your house, drain them of water, and store them securely. Then, turn off the water to these outside lines, and make sure you drain the water remnants that remain in the line. It won’t take you more than a few minutes and could prevent a total disaster. 

photo D. Sharon Pruitt from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, USA

Your Central AC Unit

Chances are, you’ve already used your central AC unit for the last time this winter. Now’s a good time to scope it out for any points of damage, clean it, and secure it for the winter months. If your unit is outdoors, clear it of any debris (like falling leaves), and wash down the condenser coils. You should also take this time to inspect it for any damage, so you can fix it before you use it again next spring. When you’re done, the best course of action is to cover the entire unit with a tarp. This will prevent snow, ice, and other forms of debris from damaging the unit during winter. 

If you have window AC units, you’ll also want to bring them in for the winter. Detach them from the windows in which they sit, close the windows, and store the AC units wherever they’re convenient, preferably indoors. 

Your Furnace and Ductwork

You won’t use your AC system much, but you will be relying heavily on your furnace. This is the perfect opportunity to perform a basic tune-up and make sure it’s fully operational. Inspect the unit to see if there are any flaws or points of damage, and if there are, repair them or call in an expert. Replace your filter if you haven’t in the past 3 months, and run a test to make sure everything’s working as you expect. This is also a good opportunity to clean out your ductwork if you haven’t in a while; this will help your furnace run much more efficiently. 

Window and Door Cracks

If you want to keep all that warm air inside, and lower your monthly heating bill, it’s important to seal up any cracks or air leaks, especially around your windows and doors. If you aren’t sure where the air leaks could be, take a hair dryer or something similar and point it around the frame; have someone outside feel for any leaking hot air. If and when you find cracks, use caulk to seal them

Stock Up on Winter Essentials 

Finally, take the time to stock up on the products you’ll need during the winter. If you have a snow shovel, make sure it’s still intact and working properly. Gather some salt in case you need it, and some extra fuel if you have a snowblower. It’s also helpful to have some emergency supplies on hand, like extra food, water, and blankets. 

There aren’t many people who truly enjoy winter, but if you take the right precautions, you can at least minimize your discomfort with the season. These tasks should, cumulatively, only take you a day or two of effort, but they could save you thousands of dollars of repairs in the long run. Make sure you complete them before each winter, and with plenty of time to spare.

Author: Anna Johansson

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