Guide to Preparing Your Home for Boston’s Winter

When you decide to retire in Boston and call one of the greater Boston area’s active adult communities home, you have access to so many things. From the city’s sophisticated dining and shopping, historical sites, universities, and more, you can enjoy all the amenities you'd expect from a world-class metropolitan area. However, retiring in Boston also insures one more thing -- facing snowy winter weather.


Whether you decided to stick in town throughout the winter, or opt to retreat to warmer weather, you will want to make sure you home is winterized so you can stay comfortable and feel secure that your home will be in good shape throughout the winter months. To help with that preparation, here are some ideas to make your home winterization more effective and tips for preparing your home for a Boston winter.



Boston Climate

For all of the city’s charm, Boston's climate is quite variable, with frequent precipitation year-round. While on whole, retirees in Boston will enjoy a mix of all four-seasons, Boston’s locale as a coastal city means weather here is hot and humid in the summer and cold and snowy in the winter.



Boston Winter Weather

While the average Boston winter temperature hovers just below freezing, it is not unusual for there to be cold spells with much lower, sub-zero temperatures. And because of the amount of water in the atmosphere, severe snowstorms are not uncommon. On average, Boston gets about 48 inches of snow a year, with most snow falling in January and February.


As the weather starts to moderate, you'll have a combination of ongoing precipitation and snowmelt, resulting in a fairly soggy situation in the late winter and early spring.



Winterizing a Home

With so much moisture and variable temperatures, it is vital that you prepare your home for all sorts of weather, whether you plan on staying in Boston over the winter or decide to travel to warmer climates. In order to keep systems running properly and to avoid plumbing damage and water intrusion, you need to put in place a routine maintenance plan each fall, as well as ongoing maintenance and monitoring throughout the winter.


Here are just a few of the spaces you will want to make sure you winterize for the Boston weather.



Winterizing Doors and Windows

If your home does not currently have double windows, install storm doors and windows to provide additional protection from cold winds and blowing snow and check seals around doors and windows in order to ameliorate drafts. Re-caulk or install new weather stripping, if needed prior to the start of the winter season. 



Winterizing Fireplaces and Chimneys

It is important to check fireplaces and chimneys each fall to ensure that they are free of debris and in good working order. Check dampers for dents, cracks, or malfunctions, and make sure that fireplace doors are properly sealed in order to avoid losing heat through the chimney. This step is especially important if you plan on traveling to warmer climates in the winter, as it will help to keep your secondary heating bills low.



Winterizing Outdoor Spaces

Whether you are staying at home or heading out of town, make sure outdoor spaces like grills and outdoor furniture are cleaned, covered, and stored during the winter months. Clear dirt and leaves from stonework and pavement in order to prevent them from holding water and ice. And of course, ensure that you have an adequate supply of snow shovels, gloves, and snow melt handy should you be staying in town. If the idea of shoveling seems a bit much, consider heated mats or in-ground heating systems for walkways and driveways to ease the burden.



Winterizing Basements

If you have not already waterproofed your basement, it is essential to do so before facing a Boston winter. You will experience several feet of snow melting and refreezing which can do a great deal of damage to a poorly insulated basement. As much as possible, keep snow away from your home's foundation and check for exhaust openings from laundry rooms and heating systems in order to ensure that all pipes and openings are kept clear. For those who travel, consider having a friend or family member come in check in our your home during the winter to ensure that no snow or melt off has interfered with your foundations integrity.



Winter Insulation

Ensure that your attic or crawl space is properly insulated either with sheet insulation or blown-in insulation. Make sure that the door is also covered, perhaps with a panel of insulation material stapled to the inside. This will help ensure you are not losing a lot of heat through your attic and crawl space and will help to keep your heating costs down.



Additional Cold Weather Tips

An important cold weather tip to remember, is that you often shouldn’t wait until winter to start acting. Rather start your cold weather prep in the fall, so you can be ahead of the game. Boston can start experiencing freezing temperatures in late October or early November, so the sooner you get started the better.


In order to ensure that all of your systems are in good repair as you move into the winter months, have a general contractor or company come out and inspect your home’s systems. At that time they may make any necessary repairs or do some scheduled maintenance in order to ensure optimum performance throughout the long, cold winter.


The following should be on your list for inspection to ensure a seamless Boston winter experience:


  • HVAC: Have your heating system and ductwork cleaned and inspected. If your home still uses heating oil, ensure that you have an adequate supply on hand and have your storage tank checked as well.


  • Exterior: Have a professional review your roof, chimneys, gutters, and downspouts as well as window casings and door frames for any unpainted, exposed woodwork which will need to be treated to protect it from months of moisture.


  • Plumbing: Have your plumbing thoroughly checked in order to ensure that there are no existing cracks or leaks. In addition, ensure that there is adequate insulation around exposed pipes, especially those located in attics or basements or along exterior walls. If you are planning on leaving Boston over the winter, don’t forget to drip your faucet to help prevent your pipes from freezing or bursting while you are away.


  • Landscaping: Check that tree branches are healthy and properly trim if necessary. This is especially important for branches which hang over structures on your property or your driveway. Heavy, wet snow or ice can weigh down untrimmed branches or unhealthy, rotting trees. If your landscaping has an in-ground sprinkler system, it will need to be inspected and flushed in order to prevent leaks or breakage from expanding water lines.


Whether you are looking to brave the Boston winter, or plan on retreating to warmer climates, a new home in one of Boston’s active adult communities is a great place to enjoy your retirement. As one of the nation’s leading builders of 55+ communities, Del Webb specializes in energy efficient and smart technology designs to help you save money and enjoy all that Boston has to offer.



Contributed to The 55+ Society

Looking for more Society tips and learnings? Return Home here.

Published 12.1.20

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