AFI COVID-19 Response Learn More

Winterizing Your Property

Home covered in snow during the winter months

As fall approaches and temperatures start dropping, it's time to work on preparing your property for the rigors of winter. Preparing for the consequences of freezing temperatures, ice accumulation, and snowfall ahead of time will save you energy, money, and stress. According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, "Extreme winter weather is the third-largest cause of insured catastrophe losses after hurricanes and tornadoes. Losses from snow, ice, freezing, and related causes averaged $1.2 billion annually over the past 20 years."

Preparing your property for winter is an important task. While much of the work can be considered do-it-yourself, there are inspections or jobs that property owners should consider outsourcing to reputable companies. Here is a comprehensive list of winterizing steps you should take.

Roof: A thorough inspection of your attic, skylights, and roof can identify any damage that occurred during the warm weather months that may cause issues when ice and snow start to form. A roof in good condition should be able to withstand 20 pounds of snow/ice per square foot. A roof collapse can be very costly. Don't hesitate to call a professional to inspect your roof, as the task can be dangerous.

Pipes: Some pipes are at a higher risk for freezing during winter months, such as those on the exterior of your home, located in exterior walls, or exposed pipes in unheated areas of the house. To help avoid the freezing of outdoor pipes, follow these tips for preventing freezing pipes.

Pool: If you have a pool, make sure the pool, skimmer, and filter are cleaned out and follow the manufacturer's guidelines on additional cleaning steps or the addition of winterizing chemicals. Drain the pool to a level below the skimmer mouth, but do not empty the pool.

Yard/Outdoor Maintenance: The weight of snow and ice can cause tree limbs to break and damage your property, or the property of neighbors, so make sure to trim them. Removing any additional debris, sealing the deck, and draining any water fixtures are good preventative tasks. Here are some other tips for preparing your home for winter.

Gutters: During your outside maintenance, make sure you prioritize your gutters. Gutters should be cleaned out in the fall and then again before winter temperatures start in your area to make sure that water can drain appropriately.

Windows: While technically inside your home, windows are worth putting on both the home and property preparation list as they can be a significant player in heating your house. Inspect all of your windows and consider replacing inefficient or very old windows with new, more energy-efficient windows. Also, check caulking to make sure no hot air is escaping.

Doors: Just as you want your windows to keep hot air in and the cold weather out, your doors also serve this purpose. Check on your weather stripping and consider draft guards or even storm doors if your area gets unusually cold.

Irrigation/Sprinkler System for Lawns: Sprinkler systems should be winterized early in the season, before the first freeze. This maintenance can be done by your sprinkler service or yourself. Turn off the water supply and rid the lines entirely of the water to prevent freezing.

As you are preparing your home and property for winter, make sure you are also ready for other emergencies. Starting with an emergency kit, downloading some apps to help you in an emergency, and talking to your insurance representative to verify your coverage. Don't get caught unprepared, take the time today.