Winter Storm Prep for Your Home and Backyard
Expert Advice

Image: Deposit Photos, mary_smn

The arctic chill currently sweeping the nation is certainly a wake-up call for many. Staying warm and safe during winter storms can be difficult, as they can bring a host of side effects, including extremely cold temperatures, power line failures, lack of cell service and dangerously icy roads. Follow these winter storm prep tips to protect your home and yard throughout the frigid winter.

Seal Up Cracks

If winter winds have been creeping inside your house where they don’t belong, it’s time to take a second look at your windows and doors. Make sure they are closed tight, and if a draft still escapes, find a sealant to plug that right up. Weatherstripping is the cheapest and easiest solution to solving your drafty door or window problems. Don’t forget, smaller cracks should be caulked to prevent moisture damage.

Protect the Pipes

Pipes are the first thing that below-zero temperatures like to attack. Unprotected pipes underneath or around the home can become frozen and lead to massive water damage. To avoid a serious plumbing problem, wrap vulnerable pipes around your home in insulation (or heat tape). As the temperature drops, the heat tape will warm to stop the water in the pipes from freezing, and they generally last a few years.

Backup Heating

There is a solid chance that the power may go out during a winter storm. Are you completely out of luck now that your primary heating source doesn’t work? (Don’t be “that guy”!) Indoor-safe propane heaters provide an effective way to heat a room without electricity—and newer models even boast efficiency up to 99%. If that’s not your style, pellet stoves are another option. With more of an old-timey feel, these heaters run on pellet-based fuel that is created from recycled sawdust or wood shavings.

Trim the Trees

No, we’re not talking about the Christmas tree. We’re talking about all of the overhanging tree limbs and older limbs that could snap off in seconds during a winter storm. (Large pruning jobs should absolutely be left to a professional, but trimming small branches and trees is perfectly manageable.) Better to cut it off now, rather than deal with property damage per wicked winds or heavy snow.

Check the Deck

Decking and wood floors may need maintenance this time of year. Always use a plastic shovel or snow blower to avoid scratching your deck. Experts advise against using ice-melt salts, which can erode your deck’s coating. Instead, routinely remove snow and ice from your deck, just as you would your driveway, to prevent slipperiness and make it easier to get in and out of your home.

Mind your Outdoor Furniture

Even if you have weather-resistant wood furniture (such as teak) that can stay outdoors in bad weather, it’s still a smart idea to move it to a sheltered spot, if possible. Store wicker furniture it in a dry garage or shed. If it’s too cumbersome to relocate, you can find many inexpensive generic outdoor furniture covers are also plentiful at your local home and garden shop, hardware store, or Amazon.