It’s winter, and severe weather is coming. From Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine, temperatures could get really cold this year—as low as 40 below in some areas, according to the Farmers’ Almanac. The Northeast has already had a major blizzard, and more rain and snow are on the way.
When snow is piling up outside, it’s important to know that your home is safe and warm—and your car will start when you need it. But you’ve got to prepare for this before a storm bears down. By handling things in advance, you won’t be scrambling to hire pros at the most difficult, and expensive, time.
Once a storm slams into your area, finding an available roofer or furnace service can be nearly impossible. If you do find one, they can cost a small fortune. And if repairs are needed, delays can make the damage worse.
Home-improvement expert Don Vandervort of HomeTips.com
Don’t get left out in the cold. Follow these 22 tips for protecting your home and car before the next storm arrives.
Get your home ready, inside and out
A well-prepared house is a sanctuary from cold, wet weather, providing a cozy living space no matter how bad things get outside. Preventive maintenance protects the house upfront, so you can avoid expensive repairs later on. Here’s what to do now to keep your house in order.
Keep up with winter maintenance services
Scheduling winter inspections and repairs is an important part of home care. Be sure to call those pros well in advance, because they’ll be super-busy when the weather gets bad.
- Inspect and service the HVAC system. When the thermometer dips and bone-chilling winds blow, a lack of heat can be unpleasant, even dangerous. So have an HVAC contractor (a specialist in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) check and tune up your home’s heating system, change furnace filters, and make sure the thermostat works correctly. This typically costs $100–300. Learn more: Homeowner’s guide to hiring an HVAC contractor.
- Make sure safety equipment is working. Everyone should do this, but it’s especially important if you’re using a wood or gas fireplace regularly. Replace batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year, according to device instructions (unless your detectors have permanent 10-year batteries). Also, make sure fire extinguishers are fully charged. A certified fire-equipment dealer (or local fire department in some areas) can recharge extinguishers, at a typical cost of $15–40. Learn more: Best smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
Keep heat in, wind and water out
A properly maintained home will be more comfortable, and have lower energy costs, because it holds in heated air. And by keeping out moisture from rain and snow, you’ll reduce the risk of mold, mildew, or expensive repairs.
- Weatherproof your home. Caulking and weatherstripping windows and doors will help seal out the cold, retain heat,