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How to Get Your Mountain Home Ready for Winter

mountain home covered in snow

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Preparing your home for winter doesn’t have to be stressful. Whether your Western North Carolina mountain home is a vacation spot or seasonal home you will be leaving for winter, or a full-time residence, there are steps to take to insure your home is winterized. Use this post to guide you through winterizing your mountain home. 


Tips for Winterizing your Mountain Home

Have you ever been told to close the door because you were letting the air out? The principle remains the same when preparing your home for winter. Although not as obvious as an open door, there are areas of your home that are letting warm air out and cold air in. Here are a few ways to help insulate your home and get prepared for colder weather. 


Winterizing the Outside of Your Home

  • Caulking. From insulating your home and keeping unwanted critters out to preventing water damage, caulking is a simple but effective way to winterize your home.
  • Close Foundation Vents. Foundation vents are built into the base of your home to allow for air circulation that prevents pipes and wood from the effects of untreated moisture like mildew and rot. In colder, dry weather, it is best to close the vents to prevent moisture from freezing and causing cracks or other damage to the foundation.
  • Roof Repair.  Broken or missing shingles can result in a significant amount of water damage, especially as cold spikes freeze the water resulting in further damage.
  • Gutter Maintenance. Clear your gutters of debris, making sure that they are secure. It might also be wise to add an extension hose to a rain gutter to help divert water away from your home. Freezing water in cracks can split bricks and wood, hurting your home in the long run.
  • Insulate Pipes and Spigots. Use heat tape or insulated tape to wrap exposed pipes and spigots or hose bibs to prevent freezing and cracked pipes. 
  • Irrigation Systems. Unless you want to dig it up and replace it in the spring, turning off and draining your irrigation system is a must for winterizing your home. 


Winterizing the Inside of Your Home

  • Weather Stripping. Attaching a weather strip or door sweep is a simple effective way to prevent a draft from the creases below exterior doors in your home. Applying weather stripping around windows is also a great way to insulate your home.
  • Seal Ducts. Make sure all the ducts in your home are adequately sealed to prevent heat loss. You can use heat tape or caulk to seal any leakage. 
  • Check your Water Heater. Make sure your water heater is operational. It can be prudent to pay to have your hot water heater inspected if it is near 10 years or older. If repairs need to be made, it is better to have them done now than to have no choice in an emergency. Colder weather causes colder water and water may take longer than normal to heat up, or it may not get as hot as it normally does. You may consider adjusting the water heater a few notches warmer. 
  • Change Filters. Dirty filters can cause poor or slow circulation of air in your home, so take steps to change dirty furnace filters. 
  • Check your Fireplace. Trying to heat the outdoors can be a costly expense, and that is what you are doing if you do not correctly prepare your fireplace. Closing the dampers in your chimney can keep the warm air in and cold air out. Not all dampers are completely effective and there are products like a chimney pillow that inflates in your chimney to prevent air from escaping. 

Note: Be mindful of dampers. Turn the gas line off for a gas fireplace, or make sure the fire is completely out in your wood-burning fireplace before closing the dampener, or carbon-monoxide buildup can endanger you and your home. If you are likely to forget the damper is closed, it is best to leave it open.


Preparing your Seasonal or Vacation Mountain Home for Winter 

If your mountain home is a vacation house or a seasonal home, or you are planning an extended leave from your home to travel for the holidays, winterizing your home is a crucial step to peace of mind this winter season. Winterizing a home you will stay in versus a seasonal home is not that different. Your goals are still the same. Save money on the power bill and prevent damage due to freezing. However, If you are not going to occupy your mountain home this winter, you can go a few steps further to winterize your home. 

  • Turn Off the Water Supply. Locate and turn the water shut-off valve to the off position. Then drain the water from the pipes by turning on all faucets in the house, until water no longer pours out. Then turn them back off and spray antifreeze into all the drains to prevent the water currently in the pipes from freezing. Seal all sinks and drains with a plug. 
  • Drain Toilets. Turn off the water supply at the base of the toilet. Hold the plunger on the toilet down to flush remaining water from the tank. Pour antifreeze into the tank and water supply tubes to prevent freezing. Use saran wrap to cover all toilets to prevent sewage air from seeping in and overpowering your home.
  • Turn Down the Thermostat. Set the thermostat really low to prevent major power bills for a vacant home. If you do still want to supply a little heat, drop it at least to the 50s. 
  • Prepare Outdoor Furnishings. Store your outdoor tables, chairs, and other furnishings for the winter. Cover fire pits if necessary. Drain or turn off water displays. 
  • Winterize your Grill. Coat the inside of grill (metal racks, burners, etc) with cooking oil to prevent rust and moisture damage and then seal the parts in a storage bag. Purchase a grill cover to prevent damage from snow. If the grill is remaining outside, leave the propane tank attached and turn off the valve. If you plan to move it inside, remove the propane tank and leave it outside a distance from your home. Do not bring the propane tank inside.


Winter Weather in Western North Carolina 

Weather in the Carolinas can fluctuate pretty erratically. A week of cold temperature that has you grabbing a winter coat can be followed by a few weeks of 60 degrees and sunny skies that leave you in a light hoodie — that’s one of the pros/cons of living in the mountains. The coldest time of the year in WNC is actually late December through late January. Snow is common, and often the mountains of Western North Carolina stay white-capped with snow through the colder months. While snow in other areas melts, the snow near your upper mountain home may stay a while. The constant freezing, melting and refreezing continually can wreak havoc to an unprepared home.

Whether you are traveling or hosting family this holiday season, taking steps to winterize your mountain home can give you peace of mind and prevent any distractions from time together.

Thinking of spending the holidays in the beautiful white-capped mountains of Western North Carolina? Enjoy checking off your Christmas shopping list or attend one of the many winter festivals and parades in WNC. Also, take time to discover the breathtaking views from lots and homes available throughout the Avalon Community.


*Image credit: The Bucktail at Christmas, by Chris Cassels

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