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Blog category: Right at Home

Is Your Home Ready for Fall and Winter?

6 min read

Taking steps to protect your house from winter weather can help you avoid costly repairs. Storm protection is critical even in warmer climates like California. Changing weather patterns make it essential to learn how to prepare your home for winter. Heavy rains, flood damage, mud slides, and even getting snowed in for days are winter risks in California. Damage from a natural disaster impacts your homeowners’ insurance and your wallet. Following our winter tips for homeowners can save you money and stress all year round and prevent the need to file a homeowners insurance claim.

Follow these simple steps to prepare your home for the coming fall and winter months.

1. Check Your Insurance Coverage

The first step in how to prepare your home for winter is ensuring your coverage is up to date. Most homeowners and renters insurance policies do not cover flooding, earthquakes, mudslides, or hurricane damage. This coverage must be purchased separately. If you live on a hillside, along the coast, or near a flood plain, explore your options for additional coverage. Checking your homeowners’ insurance coverage is as critical for storm protection as any household maintenance chore. The damage from a single natural disaster can be devastating and exorbitant to repair.

In addition to reviewing your insurance coverage, document your belongings during your annual storm protection activities. Photograph and video your possessions and keep the documentation safe outside your home or on the cloud. This documentation will be invaluable should you ever need to file a homeowner’s insurance claim.

2. Clean the Gutters

In California, it’s easy to overlook your gutters in spring and summer. With so little rain, leaves, dirt, and debris build up over warmer months, clogging essential drainage. But clean gutters are necessary for directing rainfall away from your home’s foundations. They also help to prevent mold and mildew from developing in the roof, fascia boards, attic, and basement. Cleaning the gutters is a critical step in preparing your home for winter.

With a spotter helping you, climb up to your gutters using a secured ladder. Clean out the built-up debris and check for worn sections. You may want to hire a gutter cleaning service to help if your gutters are severely clogged or showing signs of damage.

3. Check Your Roof

Your home’s roof is vital for storm protection. Any leaks or other damage will be more troublesome and expensive to repair during inclement weather. You should complete a personal roof inspection at least twice a year. While you may not be able to see minor damage that a trained roof inspector would spot, you can check for major damage to the surface of your roof. Then, plan to get a professional roof inspection once every few years.

The change from summer to autumn is a great time to do one of your yearly roof inspections. Start from the ground and do a quick visual check. If you have help and feel comfortable, climb up to the roof and look closer for damage.

Contact a roof repair service immediately if you notice missing tiles, shingles, or areas with dents or depressions. These issues could be a sign that your interior roof structure is damaged or rotting.

4. Check Sensors and Technology

Our next winter tip for homeowners is to check the technology that protects the house. A season change is a good opportunity to check batteries in your fire alarms, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide sensors. Change any batteries that have died over the summer months. Working sensors and alarms with fresh batteries are critical to protect the house from winter storms or natural disasters.

If you have a programmable thermostat, it’s time to adjust the programmed temperatures.

5. Winterize Your Sprinkler System

Winterizing your sprinkler system is an essential cold weather tip for homes in freezing winter climates. If the water in the main pipe freezes, it can crack the valves or even the manifold. Prevent costly and labor-intensive repairs.

Check with your irrigation system’s manufacturer to see if there are specific steps for winterizing your system. Some irrigation systems must be drained if your area experiences cooler weather. Winterizing your sprinkler system is also a good opportunity to check your system for leaks or damage before they damage your lawn.

6. Seal Leaky Insulation

An important step in how to prepare your home for winter is sealing any gaps around your doors and windows. Rather than providing storm protection, sealing any insulation leaks can help you lower your energy bills.

Check windows and exterior doors for drafts. Seal any spots that allow air inside. Weather stripping or expandable insulation foam are good choices for blocking gaps. This simple step could greatly reduce your energy bills. As leaky windows or doors let cold air inside, your heating system must work harder to heat your home.

7. Ready Your Heating System

An important winter tip for homeowners is to ensure your heating system is in good repair before cold weather sets in.

Making your heater’s job easier by sealing leaks in windows or doors is just one step in getting the heating system ready. It would help to have your furnace inspected by an HVAC professional. They can check for problems in the heating system and recommend any fixes that might be necessary.

Clean or replace your furnace filter now, as it has likely collected dust throughout the summer months. Stock up on additional filters to change throughout the winter. The filter will take on more dust from a closed house as you run your heating system. Consider cleaning or changing the filter every couple of months.

8. Clean the Fireplace

If you have a working fireplace, make sure it’s clean, and the flue is clear. It’s an important part of how to prepare your home for winter. Before winter begins, ensure the fireplace can be used safely.

Check the heating units on gas or electric fireplaces to ensure no small animals have chewed wires. A professional should inspect wood-burning stoves and fireplaces to ensure no buildup in the chimney can block smoke or catch fire.

Be sure to check the chimney for bird nests or other animal debris. A clogged chimney can quickly cause dangers inside your home, including increased smoke and potential house fires.

9. Winterize Landscaping

Our cold weather tips for the home include your outdoor spaces. Bring in and store outdoor furniture or décor that cannot withstand colder temperatures or wet weather. Even heavy-duty fabrics made for the outdoors can grow mold when exposed to moisture throughout the winter.

If you have delicate potted plants, move them to a warm interior location so they can continue to grow over the winter. Trim back bushes and trees that could fall if frozen or blown over in a storm.

10. Insulate Pipes

For older homes, winterizing the pipes is essential. This step helps avoid an expensive burst pipe or water leak. Apply foam insulation to pipes exposed to cold, such as areas in the attic or basement. Disconnect outdoor hoses and turn off exterior faucets. You may also need to turn off the water valve to the exterior faucets.

11. Replace Summer Items with Cool-Weather Ones

Our winter preparedness checklist for home ends with rotating your wardrobe and linens for the season. Wash all of your summer clothes and linens with fragrance-free detergent. Store clean clothes in airtight bins or closets to be fresh and ready for next year.

Pull out cool-weather sheets and clothing from storage. Air out flannel sheets or winter jackets for a few days to reduce musty smells and help with wrinkles.

The Dangers of Not Preparing for Cooler Weather

Learning how to prepare your home for winter could help you save money on expensive repairs. Pipes and roofs are especially susceptible to the dangers of cold weather. A frozen water line can burst a pipe and cause interior flooding. Tree branches and power lines can freeze in extreme temperatures and fall onto your roof, causing damage.

Once your home is winterized, prepare your car for winter, too. For more information about protecting your home, follow our home-related blog.

Now is also a great time to review your homeowners’ insurance and ensure your home is adequately covered. Go through your existing policy and contact an agent if you have questions about winter hazards and home insurance.

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The above content is for informational purposes only and is not a direct representation of coverages offered by Wawanesa or its policies. The information does not refer to any specific contract of insurance and does not modify any definitions, provisions, exclusions or limitations expressly stated in any contracts of insurance. All references within the above content are illustrative and may not apply to your situation. The terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy or policies involved in a claim are determinative as to whether an accident or other loss is covered. To understand the coverage under your current policy, please log into the account management platform to review your policy or contact an agent directly.

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