As Oklahomans prepare for the winter months, the unpredictability of Oklahoma’s weather can leave homeowners unsure as to the best course of action when preparing their homes for colder temps. We reached out to Gary McManus, Oklahoma’s State Climatologist, for his opinion on Oklahoma’s upcoming winter season.
“The influence of the strong El Niño in the equatorial pacific tilts the odds to a wetter and cooler than normal winter for Oklahoma and the southern tier of the U.S. That doesn’t necessarily mean the two will combine for a snowier winter, although past strong El Niños have brought heavy snows to parts of the state. It is important to remember that not all El Niños have impacted our weather the same way, but odds do favor wetter than normal conditions. It is also important to remember that Oklahoma winters have been quite variable over the last decade, with blizzards, heavy rains, frigid and balmy temperatures alike, and even tornadoes. Oklahomans should remain prepared for all types of hazardous weather, even during the winter.”
With this in mind, it is important for Oklahomans to prepare their homes for winter weather while the temperatures are still mild. From the garage door to the roof, here are several ways to prepare your home for winter precipitation.
The first step when winterizing your home is to prepare your gutters for colder weather. A leader in the industry, Raintamer cautions homeowners, “Keep in mind that when water freezes, it expands, and that expanding ice can be costly. Freezing moisture can cause cracks, leading to costly foundation repairs and other unforeseen issues.” To keep your gutters free of debris, you can either spend some time outside manually cleaning out the leaves and debris in your gutters, or hire a company like Raintamer to do the dirty work for you and keep your gutters in top shape for winter weather.
Plumbing & Heat/Air
One of the most important preparations you can make for your home is to prepare your plumbing and HVAC system for below freezing temperatures. For your plumbing, Advent Heat, Air and Plumbing recommend the following, “Drain, remove, and store all exterior hoses used outdoors. Close the inside valves, but leave the outside valves open for excess water to drain. Check in unheated (or poorly heated) indoor areas where water supply lines are located, such as the basement, attic, garage, et cetera. Insulate these pipes with “pipe sleeves” or “heat cables”, whichever is appropriate for your plumbing.
For your HVAC system, it is important to maintain your equipment to prevent unwanted expenses and emergencies. Advent Heat, Air and Plumbing suggests a complete check of thermostat settings, a check of all electrical connections, the lubrication of all moving parts, an inspection of the condensate drain the central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump, as well as a general check and cleaning of all systems.
When preparing for the onslaught of colder weather, don’t stop after the gutters. Ice and water damage can have a devastating effect on your home in the winter months. Van De Steeg & Associates, Inc. Construction Solutions has seen winter roof damage all too often, and suggests a pre-winter check up by a certified roofing company to ensure optimal protection. In addition to this, they suggest the following, “A few ways a roofer can help you prevent ice and snow damage is to check your roof’s pipe flashing, rubber gaskets and vents on your for deterioration or cracks. Also, having a roofer install a chimney cricket with flashing can prevent rot from ice/snow buildup behind your chimney.” In addition to this, they strongly discourage home owners from using trash bags over your home’s vents and wind turbans. This can cause mold in your home as moisture is trapped in the attic, and will not save heat or energy for your home.
One of the costliest mistakes homeowners make is ignoring their windows before the onset of winter weather. Without proper insulation, cold air can seep into your home and dramatically increase your energy bills. As you prepare for lower temperatures, Edmond Glass recommends homeowners do the following: replace weather stripping around the edges of windows and doors, use caulk to seal cracks and leaks, use “draft stoppers” to block air leaks, and/or install storm doors and windows. By completing these tasks, home owners will be able to keep cold air outside and warm air inside their home for energy optimization.
According to Acenitec, one of Oklahoma City’s premier pest and lawn companies, it is important to issue a few preventative treatments to your lawn and home when the weather dips south. With colder weather, pests and rodents often look for warmer places to burrow inside your home. A simple fix for homeowners to make is to seal any cracks in your home’s baseboards and windows. In addition to this, for optimal lawn care in the spring and pest prevention, it is best to call a professional to treat your home and lawn before winter precipitation hits.
To save energy and protect your home from winter weather, it is important to recognize whether or not your garage door is holding up its end of the bargain. In climates with extreme high and low temperatures, like Oklahoma, your home should have a garage door that offers maximum comfort and insulation. When considering a new garage door, ask your provider about each door’s “R-value”, which is a measure of thermal efficiency. At Overhead Door Company of Oklahoma, we specifically recommend two collections of garage doors with his R-Values, the Thermacore and Courtyard Collections.
As winter draws near and the temperature begins to drop, taking the preventative steps to protect your house from freezing temperatures, snow, ice, and precipitation can save you additional costs in the long run. Oklahoma’s weather can fluctuate quickly, so it is important to begin your winter weather home prep as early as possible.