Quick Winter Home & Garden Prep in a (Cold) Snap

Frost-on-PumpkinYou may be expecting it to get colder now October has come around, but sometimes cold weather comes on with a vengeance. You probably know these periods of sudden, insanely cold weather as cold snaps. No wind, no precipitation, and no warmth either.

If you’ve ever been through a cold snap, you probably know just how much you’re ready to snap if it takes you by surprise. Stop shaking and shivering in your fuzzy slippers—it’s easy to be ready for sudden cold if you have a plan ready to put into place.

How Will Your Garden Grow?

This is the part of your home that’s most in danger during a cold snap, especially if it’s technically a cold wave. Did it take less than 24 hours for the air temperature to shift dramatically from “meh” to “Brrrrr!”? If so, it’s now technically a cold wave, and according to the US National Weather Service, that means danger for agriculture.

You’ve probably harvested most of your produce by this point—if not, get on that! Enlist family members, neighbors, and friends you have over in getting all remaining produce inside, most will still ripen after being picked. The exception to this is produce that needs to be out in the first frost, such as certain apple varieties—if you have any such varieties, look at the frost they need before picking.

Once the produce is harvested, your main task to worry about is saving the plants. If you have time, transplant smaller frost-sensitive vegetable plants inside and prune any plants that need it, such as rosebushes. You may also want to keep certain plants warm by covering them with tarps and plastic garbage bags to insulate them.

Once you’ve done all you can for your garden, turn inward.

Protect the Pipes

Depending on where you live and the actual temperature when the cold snap hits, this can be a huge problem. If the water in the pipes freezes the pipes can crack, at which point you can expect water damage or flooding in addition to non-functioning water pipes—and a nasty spring surprise from your sprinkler system.

Wrap any exposed pipes—indoors and out—in extra foam rubber or fiberglass insulation and secure with insulation tape. If temperatures drop below freezing, open any cupboard doors with exposed pipes and keep water slightly running at all times so it won’t freeze as easily.

Some Like it Hot

Nobody likes to be freezing midwinter—some may prefer cooler ambient temperatures, but even the hot-blooded among us generally like to have hot water for showers and laundry.

Check your furnace and hot water heater. Make sure everything is connected properly, such as tubes and wires. Also, be sure the filter doesn’t need to be changed. If your furnace has a pilot light, be sure the area around the pilot light is clean—too much dust and buildup can snuff it out. If there’s a significant buildup of silt sloshing around the bottom of your hot water heater, it’s time to replace it.

If an unexpected problem does occur, call the appropriate repairman quickly—their schedules fill up fast in a cold snap!

Seal Your Windows, Seal Your Doors

And make sure it’s tight, because it’s freezing out there!

Check to be sure all rubber or vinyl door seals are intact (no tears or cracks), and inspect the caulk like it’s for a military drill sergeant. Heat (and money) escapes through those cracks like Steve McQueen in 1963. Not to mention the bugs that can try to get in from the cold.

Cold snaps are never enjoyable, but if you have a plan in place, they are certainly livable.

About the Author
Leslie Mason is a homemaker and garden expert. Leslie enjoys writing, gardening, do-it-yourself projects, and fixing up the house.

Image Credit: flickr.com 

1 Response

  1. September 28, 2014

    […] Quick Winter Home & Garden Prep in a (Cold) Snap […]

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