gear up for winter


gear up for winter

Depending on where you live, winter weather takes on different forms. From severe cold snaps to polar vortexes and blizzards, there's a lot to consider. This MasterKit will help you prepare for winter in all its forms, so you can keep your home, car and family protected.
using snowblower to clear snow
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4 Things to Remember When Winter Just Won't End

Relentless snowstorms can wear you out. Here's a reminder of the key tasks to do around your property to prevent major problems during an endless winter.

As cycles of blizzards, shoveling, and de-icing drag on, a bad winter can become a tedious, exhausting experience that takes a toll on you and your property. Use this checklist to ensure that your most important tasks stay top-of-mind, so you can regularly take steps to protect your home, car, and family, even in the longest winter.
1. Make room for shoveled snow:
shoveling snow
An extremely snowy winter can leave homeowners with unmanageable and unsafe snow piles along the edges of driveways and sidewalks. In this case, prevention is the best solution. Although it's tempting to wait until the snow stops before you start to shovel, in the long run putting it off can make heavy snow harder - and more dangerous - to deal with. Instead, shovel snow periodically as it falls so you're dealing with less of it at a time.

Spread that shoveled snow over a wide area rather than leaving it in a narrow strip next to the driveway or walk. If you do decide to wait until the snow finishes falling, start your pile well away from the edge of the driveway to leave yourself more room for future storms. The same rule goes for snow removed from the roof - spread it out rather than leaving it in a huge pile directly under the eaves.

Pro Tip: Once spring finally does arrive, keep an eye on melting snow to ensure that it's flowing away from, not toward, your home. Be careful of falling ice and snow as trees, roofs, and downspouts begin to thaw.
2. Clear your connections:
clearing snow off of meters
After a heavy snow or a series of snowstorms, walk the perimeter of your home to make sure vents and connections at ground level are clear. Remove snow from around dryer and furnace vents, as well as gas, water, and electric meters. If you have a heat pump, make sure the exterior unit is clear of snow as well.

Pro Tip: A heat pump has a defrost cycle that should keep it free of ice in the winter. Some frost is normal, but if your heat pump develops a significant ice buildup, call your HVAC technician.
3. Check the roof:
checking the roof
Go into your attic and look for signs of leaks, including wet insulation, dark stains, and water dripping from the underside of the roof. From the ground outside, make sure you can still see all the vents that exhaust through your roof and that they aren't frozen over or blocked by snow. If your roof is low enough that you can reach it from the ground with a roof rake, remove snow to lighten the load and prevent ice dams. Call a professional if you can't reach your roof safely or if you suspect an ice dam has formed.

Pro Tip: Adequate insulation and ventilation can go a long way toward preventing ice dams. Learn the steps for prevention in Your Guide to Beating Ice Dams This Season.
4. Check the car:
checking your car
Being stranded in your car can be deadly in winter weather. Have your car's hoses, belts, water pump, battery, and spark plugs checked before winter, and visually inspect hoses and belts for damage and wear periodically during the season. Underinflated tires can fail on the road, so regularly check the tire pressure, which drops about 1 pound per 10°F of temperature.1 When there's a break in the weather, wash off road salt, including around the tires and undercarriage to prevent corrosion. Even when the weather's still miserable, clean your headlights regularly, as dirty headlights can drastically reduce your visibility.

By taking these precautions regularly throughout the winter, you can keep winter from taking too great a toll on your property (and your sanity).

gear up for winter

Hands fixing a wall plug
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tackle home repairs

Put a plan in place so when unforeseen home repairs arise, you're ready for action.