Winter can prove to be a taxing time for homeowners.

With temperatures plummeting and snow piling in, it will make you long for a time when you could walk outside without a coat and didn’t need to break the bank on heating. However, there are quite a few precautions any homeowner can take to make sure the winter is only mildly unpleasant, instead of absolutely catastrophic.

Exterior of a home covered in snow

Make Sure Your Heating System Works

The most important thing you can do is make sure that your heating system is in check. Getting a technician to inspect your furnace is the least you can do to make sure you have an escape from the bitter cold.

It’s also wise to order firewood, which can help you cut costs on heating, a major expense during the winter time. Speaking of fireplaces, it’s very smart to hire a chimney sweep, especially if you plan on burning fires in the winter.

However, staying warm isn’t the only thing that should be on your mind this winter. It’s easy to forget until it happens, but ice dams are a very real problem for any homeowner. Icicles may look cool, but if they turn into dams, you will be facing all types of water damage and leaks.

Clean Your Gutters

One of the primary causes of ice dams are clogged gutters. If you live around trees, it’s very likely that leaves fell from those trees in the fall and are now collecting in your gutter ready to dam the water into place.

Water damage isn’t just an eyesore. It can catalyze the growth of mold, which can lead to serious health effects like allergy aggravation and respiratory problems. Likewise, a broken gutter can lead to a buildup of debris that can cause all types of infestations, like rodents or bees. It’s easy to overlook and assume your gutter is doing its job, but you can never be too safe when it comes to taking care of your home.

To avoid any risk, it’s vital that you clean your gutters to prepare for the winter. The fastest, safest way to do this is to hire a professional to clean your gutters well in advance, to proactively take care of the issue and ensure that you don’t have to deal with any serious consequences.

We probably don’t have to tell you that if you let the problem go on for too long, the costs and ramifications will be much higher. It’s one thing to clean a gutter, but it’s a whole new battle to do away with mold or pests.

Of course, professionals are best equipped to handle the issue, but if you are going to try to clean your gutters yourself, make sure to be extra cautious. You will likely need to clean from a ladder, which is inherently dangerous, but with the right support and awareness is definitely doable.

Make sure you are well acquainted with the specifications of you ladder so you can ensure that all locks are properly engaged, that you are only using ladders with appropriate accessories, or that you are not exceeding the maximum weight the ladder can handle.

Now it’s time to begin the process of cleaning the gutter. Start cleaning the gutter at the downspout, the vertical part of the gutter that extends to the ground. Use a trowel to remove all debris you find and put it into a bucket.

For smaller debris, you will need to flush the gutter with water by attaching a hose to the opposite end of the downspout. It is smart to invest in an attachment to the hose that specializes in gutter cleaning.

If the water drains, then it’s going smoothly. However, if it doesn’t drain, that means your downspout may be clogged. This is the type of situation that calls for a professional, but can be completed with some hard work and precision.

First you need to check the drain end and remove it from a pipe on the case that the downspout runs underground. Then you need to install a nozzle on your house and lock it at full pressure, blasting the water from the bottom of the spout.

If you need to, hire a professional

If this doesn’t do the trick, it’s probably time to hire someone. A clogged gutter can be an absolute nightmare to deal with, especially if you don’t have the tools or experience to make sure you are flushing it as effectively as possible. However, if you make the upkeep of your gutters a regular habit, this can certainly be avoided.

There is never a bad time to clean your gutters but in the winter, when ice dams are prevalent and the stakes are so much higher, it is absolutely essential. Getting your house ready for the winter is a process that can be hard to get right. However, with the right forces pushing you in the right direction, you will never regret taking that extra effort to make sure your winter is as smooth and gentle as possible.