Most years, winter comes long before most single parents have the time to drag out their kids’ cold weather gear. The seasons shift quickly, and there are hardly enough hours in the day to get everything done — and yet, before winter sets in, you really do need to prepare your home for the cold, wet weather ahead. A few hours of preparation on the weekend could save you and your kids days of despair during the cold, dark season; winterizing can protect your home from damage like roof leaks, rotten siding, busted pipes, crumbling masonry and more.
Winterizing your home is the best gift you can give yourself before the holiday season. Here are the essential winterization tasks that you need to check off your list before the cold season comes.
If there is one single task you must complete before winter hits, it’s this. If your gutters are clogged with debris, the snow and ice melting off your roof will not drain efficiently away. Instead, it will freeze in your gutters and along your eaves, allowing ice and water to seep up into your shingles and down your home’s walls, causing excessive amounts of damage.
You should try to make sure your gutters are as clean and clear as possible going into the winter season. If you have older kids, you might assign this messy task to them — and reward them thoroughly for it — or you might be able to pay a neighborhood teen to get the job done if you don’t want to bother doing it yourself.
Your home’s exterior paint protects the building materials from the outdoor elements. However, paint chips away over time, revealing wood, metal, brick and other materials that can become damaged due to moisture, sunlight, wind, pests and more.
Thus, before the harsh winter descends, you should look around the exterior of your home for signs of wear and tear that indicate it is time to touch up your paint. Usually, you don’t have to repaint your home’s entire exterior every fall; you can buy a smaller amount of paint and cover up the chipped areas with individual strokes. Of course, if your exterior paint is truly suffering, it might be time to hire a paint company to repaint — which also gives you an excuse to freshen up your exterior colors.
Just like paint, sealants around the exterior of your home can wear away over time. Once you have finished painting, you should look for cracks or holes around your doors and windows, where air and moisture might penetrate your building’s envelope. Filling these with caulk should be a quick and easy chore, though you can outsource it to a handyman you trust if you don’t have the time.
One of the most common problems during the winter season is burst pipes, which flood the home and yard with water causing damage that could take years to fully fix. Pipes usually burst in the winter because the water inside them freezes and expands beyond the capacity of the pipe; then, unfrozen water can escape.
Your goal, then, is to ensure that the water inside your pipes cannot freeze. There are two ways of doing this: First, you should wrap your water supply pipes in insulation, which will protect them from normal cold temperatures; secondly, you should allow one faucet in your home to drip in a steady stream during the coldest times of the year, as running water is less likely to freeze.
Most of your landscaping is likely to go dormant during the cold season, but that doesn’t stop shrubs and trees from posing a risk to your home. Tree branches laden with snow can and do fall on roofs and cars, and pruning can help plants better conserve their energy for regrowth during the spring season.
Clearing away debris and cutting away dead branches are other good chores for your older kids, especially if you don’t use a yard service to maintain your landscaping. If your little ones are disinterested, you should try to gamify yard work — and you should reward them for their efforts appropriately with treats and toys.
As a single mom, you have more than enough on your plate before you consider your home’s needs during the winter season. Still, with relatively meager winterization efforts, you can save you and your family an incredibly amount of work and hassle.