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Preparing Your River Cabin for Winter

Maintenance is a never-ending job for homeowners. It is a job that many enjoy, but it can be intimidating for newer homeowners or individuals unfamiliar with mountain winters. However, we are here to help you get started so you know what to prepare ahead of time. Preventative maintenance is always better than responsive maintenance. It can save you thousands of dollars by fixing a problem before it arises. This is why we have put together a basic list of maintenance tips to help you prepare your river cabin now, for the winter season in the Western North Carolina mountains. 

Preparing the Inside of Your River Cabin for Winter  

  1. Insulate windows and doors. There is a reason your parents told you, “In or out!” when you held the front door open. You let all the cool or warm air out making the unit work harder to compensate, meaning more expensive gas or electric bill. Little cracks around the frames of doors and windows make all the difference when it comes to insulating your home. Weatherstripping is a quick, inexpensive solution to fill the gaps. 
  2. Check the furnace. Have your furnace inspected in the fall to prepare for the winter. Many companies clean components of the furnace and check that everything is in working order. Make sure to change the furnace filter as well. 
  3. Inspect your fireplace. Make sure that dampers are working, and close them when you are not using the fireplace. Make sure to open them before you start a fire, gas or wood, to prevent carbon monoxide build-up. Clean the chimney and make sure that gas switches work. 
  4. Check the water heater. You never appreciate your water heater more than the dead of winter. Having your water heater regularly serviced before the winter should keep you apprised of any potential issues like a leak. This will extend the lifespan of your appliance and prepare you for the need for a purchase down the road. 
  5. Prepare a winter kit. Mountain living in the winter is an exciting time with white-tipped mountains and evergreens all around. However, when you live in rural areas at higher elevations, you can expect to occasionally get snowed in or lose power. Stockpiling the appropriate supplies in a “winter kit” can help you and your family get through extreme weather events. One of the best purchases you can make for a power outage is a backup generator. An overstock freezer can save you a trip to the store when you are snowed in. Rock salt, insulation tape, caulk, flashlight, and batteries are all great supplies to keep on hand during winter in the Western North Carolina mountains. 

Preparing the Outside of Your River Cabin for Winter

  1. Trim Trees. When leaves fall from trees in the autumn, they take a large amount of water with them. When winter comes, older thinner trees that have lost a large amount of water start to die, and winter winds blow through the hills, trees or large branches can fall on your home. Because houses in the mountains tend to be surrounded by trees, regular maintenance is an important habit to form. 
  2. Gutters and Downspouts. In the fall, leaves build up on the roof and in the gutters. If they are not removed, water can get trapped and frozen in the leaf piles, or fall and collect in places by your house instead of draining away from your home through downspouts. Confirm that downspouts and gutters are securely attached and cleared. 
  3. Spigots and Pipes. Outdoor pipes for hoses and irrigation systems can keep your lawn healthy and colorful in the spring. But when freezing temperatures in the winter reach pipes with water drops or residue, the pipes can freeze and crack resulting in expensive repairs. Insulation tape for the insides pipes and spigot covers and faucet caps keep cold air out of the inside of the pipe. 
  4. Strategic caulk work. Cracks and holes in both the inside and outside of your home can be problematic. They allow bugs to crawl in, even more so in the winter because the bugs are seeking a warm environment. These cracks also allow warm air to escape and cold air to get in. Using a caulk gun while taking the time to seal cracks can make a huge difference in the life of your HVAC system. 
  5. Outdoor living spaces. Outdoor living spaces allow you to lounge and enjoy all that nature has to offer right outside your door. Furniture in spaces not covered, such as screened-in porches or balconies, will need to be covered or stored for better weather. Leaves should be periodically removed from the space to prevent mold, bacteria, and rot resulting from wet leaves. You may also consider adding a water-tight sealer that works to protect the wood in cold and wet weather. 
  6. Walkways. Rain and snow, melting and refreezing, walkways can be dangerous slipping hazards including steppings stones, or stairs down to the river. Have a few bags of rock salt to spread around before freezing temperatures can make all the difference to your commute.

Preparing A Mountain Riverfront Home for Winter

Preventative maintenance done in the fall for the winter serves to save you money and time. And while many of the general preparations remain the same for a riverfront home, there are steps you can take to winterize your riverfront home even further. Fortunately, many of the concerns for riverfront winters are considered and planned for in the building process. That is why choosing a home builder for your riverfront home is such an important decision. Homes are required to be built a certain distance above the highest historic flood lines. They also have a certain level of grading on the property to provide maximum draining. During the winter, the rivers rise and speed up, invigorated by melting snow and rainfall. Waterproofing is the name of the game for riverfront home maintenance. 

Many houses with a basement, which most riverfront homes have, contain a sump pump, that will need to be checked periodically so that it continues to pull moisture and water away before any water damage can be done. Make sure you have a battery back up attached that will keep going when you need it the most if the power goes out in a storm. Caulking can be especially important when water can fill any crack and freeze expanding the crack over and over again. Check basement walls while caulking and consider using a waterproof sealant, if it hasn’t been used already.  

Preparing your mountain riverfront home now can go a long way to assuring you a minimum maintenance winter. In the end, you can save thousands in repair or replacement services, additional fees for urgent weekend calls, high electric bills, and more. Leaving you time and resources to enjoy the winter season in the Western North Carolina Mountains. Visit any number of spectacular mountain towns that radiate holiday spirit. Enjoy a cup of hot cocoa and a good book in your riverfront mountain home knowing you are prepared for the winter weather.