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How to Prepare Your Home for an Arctic Blast

Whether it's a polar vortex, arctic blast or old-fashioned winter storm, protect your home and stay warm with these tips.

Streets covered in snow and ice

 

Many homeowners have been lulled into a false sense of security by beautiful fall weather. But it's time to button up and batten down because meteorologists are predicting a slew of polar vortices, arctic blasts and winter storms.

With these arctic blasts, temperatures could drop more than 30 degrees, which can wreak havoc on your home. So what can you do to prepare your home post haste for winter storms?

HVAC Tuneup for Winter

First, has your HVAC been serviced for the winter? Doing so will ensure it’s running efficiently and safely. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to confirm they are in working order. Installing a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and water heater is a good idea, especially since they could be running on overdrive in freezing temps.

Prep Your Pipes

Next, your plumbing, most importantly those pipes around your house. Disconnect hoses from each spigot. Drain and store them. Then insulate any spigot that’s above ground. Actually, go ahead and cover all exposed pipes (laundry room, pool equipment, sprinkler system) with insulation or protective covering. You can even use bubble wrap. Another tip is to locate your main water shutoff in case a pipe does freeze and burst.

Wrap Your Water Heater

Is your water heater in the garage or attic? If so, cover it with either an insulator wrap kit or a blanket if the R-value on the label is less than 25. This video from the Sierra Club will teach you how.

Clean Your Chimney

If you’re fortunate enough to have a fireplace, get the chimney cleaned, check that the chimney cap is in place and buy firewood and store in a dry place. Have plenty of matches, candles and flashlights with fresh batteries available if the power goes out. Get more fireplace safety tips.

Cinch Cracks

Take a walk around the foundation of your home. Make sure debris is moved away and check and fill any cracks you see. An old farm trick is to buy a few bales of hay and scatter it up against your foundation. This keeps your floors warmer and less drafty, especially if you have pier and beam.
 

Remember Your Outdoor Equipment

It’s best to drain all gasoline from your outdoor equipment such as your lawnmower. Make sure your snow shovel is accessible. Also stock up on rock salt in case of a freeze. Haven’t seen that windshield scraper all summer? Time to dig it out and have it handy. Get more outdoor equipment prep tips.

Keep Heat Inside

Back inside, shut off all the rooms you don’t use. This helps the house stay warmer in the rooms you do occupy. For those with a two-story home, the top floor will be warmer, so try to spend most of your time there.

Prepare an Emergency Kit

Most importantly, prepare an emergency kit. Here’s what you need to stock up on:

  •  A few extra gallons of water
  •  Non-perishable food items (don’t forget about your furry friends’ food either!)
  •  Lots of blankets
  •  A battery-powered radio
  •  Backup battery for your cell phone and computer
  •  A first-aid kit
  •  Flashlights, backup batteries, candles and matches
  •  And always talk through an emergency plan with your family.

Now get busy! Also, as an FYI, a home warranty plan from American Home Shield can help make sure your heater, water heater and other appliances help you through an arctic blast.
 

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