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Winter Home Prep

By: Sarah Callahan, Blogger

Winter in South Dakota is no joke! Since I moved to South Dakota over 5 years ago I have had some pretty crazy winter weather. I grew up in Indiana and we had some was rough winters, but the dramatic difference between here and there is the wind factor. There is running meme on FaceBook about why do we live where being outside hurts my face. Every place has its more difficult weather patterns and South Dakota’s just happens to be winter! Being prepared is the best thing you can do when it comes to the impending doom of winter.

The best time to prepare for winter is before it hits! Usually when the temps really start to drop during the night, it is time to start your winter prep on your home.

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Dodging the Draft

Weather striping around the windows of your home is the main way wind doesn’t constantly come into your home. If this striping is old or cracked you may need to replace it. Depending on how the striping is done you may need to remove all of it and put all new stripping down. Check the weather stripping on your windows, doors and your garage door as well. According to drafts can waste 5 to 30 percent of a home’s energy.

You can do a couple things even if you are a renter versus a homeowner to help prepare for the winter’s cold. You can get plastic to put over your windows to help with any draft that may be coming in from them. I live in an older home and odd enough the windows that have been replaced in our home are the drafty ones! The old windows that are original with the home are much less drafty, maybe because they have storm windows that are in place. We only put plastic up over the windows that are the newer ones in our home. This is in our main living area.  You can get a window insulation kit at your local hardware store or Wal-Mart. You can also hang heavy material curtains over your windows or patio doors, this will also help keep down any drafts. During the winter you can actually see the plastic over our windows blowing in and out from the drafts, so this is an important one for us in our older home!

For any exterior door you can buy or make a draft snake that slides underneath of your door. It provides a barrier for the underside of the door for any wind that may try to get in. In one apartment I had in Indiana the draft under the front exterior door was so bad snow was blowing into the apartment. One simple fix was to roll up a towel and place it at the bottom of the door. This sadly did not stop the snow completely. The towel needed to be replaced frequently because it was soaked from snow coming in and then melting. You can use a towel or get an inexpensive draft snake at your local hardware store or Wal-Mart.

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Maintaining Your Maintenance Plan

Be sure to keep up on your regular maintenance for your furnace. You should have it checked before the harsh weather comes because once it hits everyone is going to be calling them. If you have it tested before hand you can be sure your home will stay warm and you won’t be caught in the cold waiting on them to come fix your unit. Service your AC after the summer months to ensure that it will be ready to go next spring.

Be sure to continue to replace air filter since you will be inside a lot more. If you have trouble remembering to replace your furnace filter you can sign up for and they will ship a new filter to your home every three months. This is handy when you live where the outside hurts your face. You don’t want to leave your home for any reason, especially just to get a furnace filter! You may want to consider having someone clear our your air vents before you are constantly inside all winter. Clearing out the dust!

Making sure your furnace is ready to go is important. If your home has a fireplace it is also very important to make sure you have plenty of firewood kept in a dry place. We keep our firewood outside of our home on a rack, so the wood is off of the ground. We also have a weather cover over it to help keep it dry. We keep it away from the home incase termites were to get into the wood, they wouldn’t quickly get in our home as well. We also have a couple of starter logs in our hall closet to help get a fire going.

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Roof Caved In

Not something most people have to think about, but you don’t want your roof to cave in from the weight of too much ice and snow. So before the winter hits you want to make sure all the fallen leaves are cleared from your gutters. This will help ensure that any ice or snow when it has a chance to melt can properly drain off of your roof. If there is no drainage pathway the ice and snow can pile up more than normal. If the snow and ice pile up too much the weight could cave in on your roof. It could also slide off the house hitting your car or worse a person in your yard.

Other Odds and Ends

We do a few other things to prepare for the winter like oiling up the keyhole on our front door. It can get stuck during the cold making it difficult to get into our home. Make sure you have salt / sand handy to put on ice to help avoid slipping on your steps or walkway. You can also add insulation in your attic to help the home retain its heat. Try starting your snow blower to make sure it is ready for use. You do not want to find out it won’t start after a foot of snow has hit your driveway!

You should also always have an emergency kit incase of power outage. Our emergency kit includes things like batteries, flashlight, candles, matches, bottled water, and some granola bars. We also put a backpack of these things in each of our cars, but we also include blankets.

We want to make sure all of our home systems and appliances are all running smoothly as well. Especially during a South Dakota winter, NO ONE wants to go buy a new dishwasher in the middle of a winter here! Maintaining our home’s appliances is key.

We have a home warranty that helps us out if something does go wrong with one of our appliances or our furnace. However if we weren’t already properly maintaining them, the warranty could not cover something due to neglect. We believe paying for a service to cover all of these things is key to keeping our home in working order. If you don’t already have a home warranty, check out cheap home warranty plans your area. It could be your savings grace this winter!

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