15 Ways To Prepare Your Home Before the Next Freeze

INSURANCE - HOME INSURANCE
Prevent winter woes with these simple yet effective steps
Updated April 9, 2024
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You have plenty of money invested in your home, so it’s essential to keep it protected. But how can you best do that in the winter months?

The winter season is winding down, but plenty of cold weather might still be coming. Here are the steps you must take this winter to keep your home safe and avoid costly repairs.

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Check and protect your pipes

didecs/Adobe house boiler room interior with modern water heating system

Broken pipes are a serious issue that can damage your home. Check your pipes for any potential cracks that could become an issue during a freeze. Also, carefully examine the insulation around the pipes.

In addition, check the shut-off valve on your main water line and make sure you can shut off the water supply to your house if a pipe bursts.

Shut off hose bibs

Richard Johnson/Adobe bib tap outdoors on house

Hose bibs can be a convenient thing to have outside your home. You can attach a hose to these during the summer when you water flowers or fill up water balloons for the kids.

But before the weather turns colder, use the shut-off valves inside your home and drain excess water out of the bibs. Their location outside makes them particularly vulnerable to damage from cold conditions.

Clean out gutters

Skórzewiak/Adobe man cleaning gutter from moss and leaves

Blocked gutters can cause issues when snow melts, particularly if it freezes again and causes ice dams in your gutters.

Ice dams can damage both your gutters and the roof. So, make sure your gutters are clean before the weather turns cold.

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Trim tree branches

serhiibobyk/Adobe gardener in overalls pruning trees

Call a tree service to come out and perform regular maintenance on the trees on your property, particularly those near the home.

Branches weighed down with snow or ice can break off, causing a potential hazard for you or your home.

Check your thermostat

Liubomir/Adobe man controlling thermostat system on wall in apartment

Your thermostat is the key to regulating the heat in your home during the winter, so give it a check and ensure it’s operating correctly.

Consider investing in an energy-efficient thermostat to help you save money on heating bills in the winter.

Check for leaks near windows and doors

ozzuboy/Adobe water puddle on floor due to leakage in the rainy day

Review exterior doors and windows for leaks that could make your furnace work too hard. If you walk by a window or door and feel a chill from a draft, take action.

There are several options for addressing the problem, such as caulking windows and doors or adding shrink plastic over windows to keep rooms warm.

Keep up with furnace maintenance

tab62/Adobe opening up floor vent heater

Your annual home maintenance checklist should include taking care of your HVAC units.

Call a professional to check the units regularly. Doing so helps keep your furnace and air conditioners running smoothly. Also, periodically change the filter on your HVAC units so they run optimally.

Get a carbon monoxide detector

leekris/Adobe carbon monoxide alarm mounted on the ceiling

Your furnace may not be venting properly, which can cause a backup of carbon monoxide in your home. This can be dangerous to your family's health.

Buy a carbon monoxide detector that will warn you of potential issues. This is especially important when you have the furnace running every day.

Lay down carpets

Luisa Leal/Adobe Carpet

Carpets can make a big difference when it comes to keeping heat in. They act as insulators on floors, particularly harder floors that can get cold regularly.

An area rug or other carpet can keep warm air in and keep your heating bills down.

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Don’t turn the thermostat too low

oasisamuel/Adobe smartphone application saving energy

You might think it’s a good idea to turn off your thermostat during the day when you’re not home. Or maybe you do this for an extended period when you go on vacation.

But it’s important to keep a furnace at no lower than 55 or 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Doing so helps prevent issues such as frozen pipes and other problems.

Build an emergency kit

Monroe/Adobe red home first aid kit

Winter weather means winter storms, which can lead to issues with electricity going out. Or, perhaps enough snow falls that you are stuck at home and unable to get out.

Long before such an event happens, stash some food and water in an emergency kit. That way, you'll be safe if you are without power or are stuck at home for a period.

Get your fireplace checked

Trik/Adobe blonde woman cleans the fireplace

Fireplaces are a good source of heat. So, make sure yours is ready for the winter months.

Get a professional chimney sweep to come in and check that the chimney is clear of debris or blockages. If you have a gas fireplace, make sure it's cleaned and working properly.

Review your homeowners insurance

peopleimages.com/Adobe budget planning with laptop

Before the cold settles in, check in with your insurance company to make sure you know what your homeowners insurance will and will not cover.

You don’t want a rude surprise later when you file a claim only to discover that the loss is not covered.

Add insulation

TommyStockProject/Adobe infrared camera on tablet

You might have insulation issues if your home gets cold in certain rooms.

Hire a professional who can help uncover insulation issues and make fixes that will give you extra protection from the elements.

Consider a backup generator

sphraner/Adobe residential standby generator

If your home is susceptible to power outages — or if you live in an area where a storm could potentially leave you without power for days — you might want to consider purchasing a backup generator.

A generator can help you keep essentials going when the power disappears. You can buy a basic generator to run things like a refrigerator or have a professional install a home generator for your entire house.

If your power goes out, the generator can help you avoid wasting money and throwing away everything in your refrigerators and freezers.

Bottom line

Jo Ann Snover/Adobe snowy  suburban home

Protecting your home often means spending a little money. But small expenses now can boost your bank account with significant savings down the road when you don't have to worry about winter repairs.

So, don't hesitate to tackle the projects on this list. Consider saving money in an emergency fund so you'll have the cash to make immediate repairs when needed rather than waiting until later.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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