A Guide to Winter Preparation for Your Home & Storage Sheds

The long, cold, wet months of winter are hard on your home and storage sheds, and with frigid temperatures and inches of snow and ice on the ground, handling outdoor tasks during the coldest months of the year is certainly not ideal. Prepare the interior of your home by winterizing the windows and doors, and ready your landscaping and deck to weather winter storms and encourage a bountiful growing season. Improve home efficiency by servicing your heating and cooling systems as well as your ventilation, and safely store tools and machinery to prevent repairing or replacing items next spring. Treat storage sheds and buildings as you do the main living area of your home, preventing damage to the interior and keeping items stored safe and dry.

Windows and Doors

Windows and doors are responsible for most of a home's drafts, allowing cold air in and letting the warm air out. The result is a heating system in overdrive, higher energy costs and a decreased lifespan for your central air or furnace. Caulking around doors and windows, weather stripping, and hanging energy efficient window treatments prevent this. Prepare your home for winter by:

  • Installing energy efficient windows.
  • Opting for felt weather stripping when on a budget.
  • Checking mail slots, dryer vents, and damaged siding for potential causes of drafts.
  • Running ceiling fans in reverse to push warm air down, reducing the load on your heating system.

Lawn, Garden, and Decks

Cold weather wreaks havoc on your landscaping, including trees, grass, gardens, and even your deck. Prepping your outdoor space ensures that your investment is protected in even the coldest of weather. As a bonus, it also gets your landscaping ready for a fruitful, healthy growing season in the spring. Prepare your outdoor space for winter with these quick tips:

  • Remove deadwood from trees without exposing the heartwood.
  • Remove dead and dying plants from gardens and flowerbeds.
  • Apply a water-repellent sealant to decks and railings.
  • Apply a fall fertilizer to lawns.

Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning

As fall comes to an end and heating season begins, it's important to ensure that your system is in good repair, clean, and ready for the long winter ahead. Have your furnace or heating system serviced, including a thorough cleaning, to reduce allergens in your home and increase efficiency. Now is also a good time to prepare your air conditioner for the coming summer, checking for leaks and covering it to protect it from winter storms. Annual service to your entire system keeps it healthy and efficient, saving you from last minute repairs and costly damage. These quick tips make winterizing your heating, vents and air conditioner simple:

  • Lower your thermostat to keeping heating costs in check. One degree can save you upwards of two-percent.
  • Consider upgrading heating systems over 15 years old.
  • Cover your outdoor air conditioner with a specially-fitted tarp, or remove window units and store them for the winter.
  • Tape around ventilation duct seams to improve efficiency.

Tools and Machinery

Whether you have a handful of gardening tools or expensive farm equipment, prepping your tools and machinery for the upcoming chill is essential. Garden tools quickly rust out when left uncovered or in overly-damp sheds, while months of sitting unused shortens the lifespan of your lawn mower or tractor. A large, well-sealed garden shed provides a quick, safe place for every type of garden tool and machinery, making winterizing your investment simpler than ever. These four tips get you started on the right path:

  • Clean tools thoroughly before storing.
  • Change the oil and clean the air filter in large machinery.
  • Run lawn mowers and tractors until the fuel is empty, or add a stabilizer to prevent a clogged carburetor in the spring.
  • Inflate tires to prevent damage to the walls throughout the winter.

Gutters, Roof, and Drains

Months of spring rain, summer storms and falling leaves and branches in the fall clog gutters and cover roofs in debris. Clearing off these areas prior to a winter storm ensures that your roof, one of the most expensive-to-fix areas of your home, withstands the brutal weather. Even a few inches of snow or ice drastically increases the load on your roof; when coupled with fallen leaves and twigs from the months prior, the likelihood of damage increases dramatically. These quick tips will help you get your gutters, roof and drains ready for winter:

  • Inspect your roof for damage before and after cleaning.
  • Scrape away old caulking and reapply it to prevent against leaks and drafts.
  • Replace rusted gutters and drains.
  • Take gutter cleaning seriously. Snow and ice quickly clog drains and gutters when coupled with debris, potentially damaging the siding and interior walls of your home when the ice and snow melts.

Garage, Sheds, and Storage

Treat your garage, sheds and storage buildings as you do your home, weather stripping and prepping them for the coming cold months. Homes lose a large amount of heat through uninsulated attached garages, and garden equipment and machinery lasts longer when kept in a well-insulated, draft-free storage building. Even sheds dedicated to storage of summer toys, clothes, and other household items require winterizing; months of damp, cold weather causes serious damage. Get your garage, shed, and storage buildings ready with these simple tips:

  • Weather strip your garage door and the door leading from your garage to your home, if applicable.
  • Inspect and repair your greenhouse heating system as necessary. Professional servicing is ideal.
  • Caulk around your garage door to prevent drafts.
  • Clean storage buildings' and shed's gutters and drains to prevent damage from melting snow and ice.