How To: Prepare for Winter


Disclaimer-Captain DIY and highly recommend exercising extreme caution when attempting DIY projects. Not everybody can do everything, and some things should only be done by professionals. Keep your digits attached, and keep the insurance company off of your back. Do it right or call the right people!

I woke up to a pretty solid frost yesterday. Everything was crisp and glittery, and the air froze my boogers as soon as I stepped outside. This can only mean one thing: time to batten down the hatches and check the root cellar mouse traps!

Most of us probably don’t do things like battening down hatches, and I haven’t gotten around to making a root cellar in my basement yet. But there is still plenty to do now that the cold weather is coming for those of us who have to worry about that kind of stuff. The rest of you can go back to relaxing under your palm trees with your piña coladas, and stop posting pictures showing how wonderful your life is. We get it.

Yep, the brisk breeze and the carpet of raking material on the lawn is a sure sign of the impending Great Chill, and there are a few things to get done on your house before Jack Frost weasels his fingers in and ruins your stuff.

Since my homestead is more home and less stead there isn’t too much, but it is still important to know what needs to be done. First of all, if you haven’t had your heating system checked out in the last six months, now would be a good time. Unless you have electric heat, then you just need to go back to work so you can make some more money to pay your electric bill.

Remember the garden hose you wheeled out early last spring in your Phase of Ambition? The one you promised yourself you’d coil up properly when you were done using it but then the kids started arguing over something stupid and you forgot all about it and now it’s becoming a part of the lawn? It’s probably still full of water and will definitely get ruined if you leave it out. Pry that sucker out of its grassy tomb, get all of the water out of it, wrap it up and hang it somewhere.

While you’re thinking about water, let’s take care of that spigot the hose was just attached to. There are newer models that have anti-freeze caps on them, so they supposedly don’t need to have the water turned off for the winter. This is bogus, and let me tell you I have had them burst on me. It’s too bad DIY to FI wasn’t around back then, because that sure would have been a great post.

Take a minute to venture down into the depths of your basement or crawl space and find the shut-off valve for your outdoor spigots and shut those puppies down. If you’re unsure what stye might look like, it’ll either look like this

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 8.03.45 AM

or it’ll look like this

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 8.05.48 AM

If it has a handle, make sure the handle is perpendicular to the pipe, and if it’s a wheel turn it clockwise till you can’t go no mo. Then take a run back outside and open the spigots to make sure no water comes out.

For those of us who live in their house through the winter, there probably isn’t a whole lot more beyond this point to do. It wouldn’t hurt to try to fire up your snowblower if you have one, as it really sucks to wait until the first big storm to find out that you need new spark plugs.

One more thing I like to do is go around and make sure all the windows in my house are closed tightly and locked. I’m not a security freak; keeping them locked will make sure they are closed as tightly as possible and won’t creep open over time. The less holes in your armor the better.

If you have any gas-powered machines that are summer-oriented, such as lawn mowers, you could either run them down until they run out of gas or look into putting in some gas preserver. I don’t think this step is totally necessary, but some people like to make sure their gas stays in good shape no matter what.

Ok, your house is now in good shape for the winter. Now it’s time to get out there and grab that rake. Your neighbors have been talking, and they are about to file a complaint with the homeowner’s association. On second thought, maybe your energy would be better spent finding a house with better neighbors.

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