Winterizing My Home

As self-reliant individuals, we think through the idea of sheltering in place, of surviving in the cold, and of preparing for blackouts. Preparing for a winter storm is preparing for all three at the same time. Here is the list I use when thinking about getting my home ready for these types of situations.

  • Are my heat leaks addressed? Look for gaps in areas during the day where you can see sunlight, where you have seen insects emerge from, or where you can feel air movement and plug those up.
  • Is my insulation sufficient? Add extra layers of blanket batting to attics and crawl spaces to increase warmth. If you have any uninsulated basement walls, consider applying a foam covering to control heat loss.
  • Did I test my CO detector? Test my CO detector both with it plugged in and on battery backup. Make sure it is placed on the floor and is near my CO emitting appliances like a hot water tank, furnace, fireplace, or dryer.
  • Did I check all the batteries in my lighting and do I have reserves? Turn on each light and wall charge any rechargeable device. Have backup batteries to be able to cycle out the batteries on each device at least once.
  • Do I have a plan for condensing my house? Do a test one day closing heating vents to rooms and then closing doors. I stuff towels under the gaps and keep the heat centralized. I should see a noticeable decrease in the frequency of the heater kicking on to prove this will work. If not then devise a new plan.
  • Does everyone have winter layers? This is a nod back to the three layers that we discussed earlier. You need to be able to change base layers for multiple days as the average major storm is going to last 2-3 days. If there is a Winter Strom Advisory, you should probably make sure they are all washed.
  • Is my fire extinguisher tested and available? I want to give it a quick discharge to make sure it is working. I want to also make sure I did not take it out to the garage when I was welding and it’s not where I need it to be in this situation.
  • Are the gutters clean? Can the gutters drain the water now before it freezes and can it remove the melt from the storm for two different reasons? The first for the safety of the gutters and the roof and the second to reduce the possibility of flooding in my basement at the time of melt.
  • What pipes need to be insulated? Water pipes that come in from the outside like my main water line can freeze if the cold gets to them. This would cause a very cold, potentially expensive, and totally destructive pipe burst. Add insulation to the pipes near these areas. Open up all cupboards that shield pipes from warm air. If they Freeze, don’t hit them with a torch. Chances are many are soldered together and you can loosen the fittings. In newer construction copper pipes might adjoin with PEX plastic pipes which would melt if hit with a torch. Additionally PVC tape is used at union joints to tighten threads and this can be melted by the torch. Instead, use a hairdryer or heat gun to slowly warm them up. Turn faucets on slightly to allow a slow drip. The movement of the water will aid in preventing the pipes from freezing.

Stay smart. Stay warm. Reduce risk. Just be a good person. Those are the keys to living through winter weather.

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