12 Tips for Surviving the Ohio Winter for Homeowners

Every Ohio Homeowner Needs These Simple Steps on Their To-Do List Before the Blizzard Hits to Make the Harsh Winter Easier

homes buried in the snow
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Andrew Malandra


Jan 21, 2021

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Ohio winters are notoriously long and difficult-- between lake effect snow coming off of Lake Erie and the chilly temperatures that come with living in the northeast United States, maintaining your home throughout an Ohio winter is no small task. Whether this is your first winter as a homeowner in Ohio or you've lived here your entire life, there are simple steps you can take to make surviving the winter easier on you and your home.

Own a home in Ohio? Concerned about making it through the next big snow storm? Not to worry! This comprehensive list for property owners covers everything you need to do to stave off the snow. Make sure to check these preparations off your list before the blizzard hits to make sure your home sees the Spring:

  • Prepare for fallout
  • Break out the shovel
  • Pass the salt
  • Get our gutters cleaned
  • Don't forget the drains
  • Think about flooding
  • Take care of your pipes
  • Get ahead of water damage
  • Check your blower
  • Get to the car
  • Stock up on kitty litter
  • Get up early
a car driving under a tunnel in a blizzard
Whether you live in Cleveland, Cincinnati, or somewhere in between, these tips will help you survive in the worst blizzards in Ohio.

Prepare for Fallout

Ok, maybe not fallout. But prepare for a potential emergency. Stock up on bread, eggs, canned food, water and milk -- the essentials, and be sure to get to the grocery store early otherwise these items will be long gone. By the time the late comers arrive, these aisles are usually barren. Maybe settle for poptarts if this turns out to be you.

Also make sure you have extra candles, a fully charged phone (with emergency numbers programmed), and something to do if you’re snowed in with no power. Need some inspiration? Pick up a board game the whole family can enjoy-- like Elementos by Tyto Games or Sagrada by Floodgate Games. You can also find plenty of board games and card games for grown-ups, like What Do You Meme? and Cards Against Humanity.

before the blizzard snow shovel
Greasing your snow shovel before you head out to clean up after a blizzard can make the process a whole lot easier and a lot less back breaking

Break Out the Shovel

It’s deep in your garage from last year. It’s going to be a headache to dig out, but you’re going to want to do it before the blizzard hits. So make sure to get your shovel out and get ready for that backbreaking labor.

So make sure to get your shovel out and get ready for that backbreaking labor.

But here’s a helpful tip for making it less backbreaking: cooking spray. Or crisco. Any kind of anti-stick greaser applied to the head of your shovel will make the shoveling process much easier. As you scoop up the heavy white menace the spray will make it so it just slides off smooth. No more wrestling with icey, sticky snow. Easy breezy shoveling.

Make sure you stop by your local grocery store-- we love Dave's Supermarkets, Jungle Jim's Market, and of course your local Giant Eagle-- to stock up before the storm hits and save yourself from struggling with sticky snow. You’re Welcome.

before the blizzard melting salt
Salting your drive can make shoveling and de-icing a much easier process and prevent accidents

Pass the Salt

Make sure to stock up on melting salts before the blizzard hits. You can find salt for relatively cheap online (Amazon will deliver it to your door in two days flat if you have Prime) or at your local hardware store.

Make sure to wear gloves when you spread the salt, as it can be harmful to sensitive skin

Just before the snow has a chance to fall, spread some of the salt around your porch, driveway, sidewalk, any non-grassy area on your property. (Make sure to wear gloves when you spread the salt, as it can be harmful to sensitive skin). This will make it harder for the compact snow to form unforgiving ice that is a pain and a hazard to remove. This is what you will see city trucks doing to the roads before the blizzard hits, and if they’re going to do it, so should you. Your local hardware store should have an ample selection of melting salts; we’d recommend buying the biggest bag you can manage. The salt doesn’t expire and it will save you a trip to the hardware store before the next blizzard when they might be fresh out of salt and you’re fresh out of luck.

Get Your Gutters Cleaned

before the blizzard gutter leaves damage
Keeping your gutters clear is part of property upkeep, but before the blizzard hits it can be essential to preventing property damage

Often overlooked on pre-snow To-Do lists, cleaning out your gutters before the blizzard hits can be a life-saver. All fall, leaves have been building up and backing up your gutters, and in the winter they freeze. Once the snow and ice start to melt, if the leaves remain, they can cause ice damming which can cause cracking and permanent damage that only mean more headaches later.

before the blizzard property damage
Clearing away foliage around drains, pumps and wells before the blizzard can prevent property damage

Don’t Forget the Drains

This same principle goes for basement drains, sump pumps, wells and basement windows. If the foliage isn’t cleared away before the blizzard the job gets much harder later. Be sure to also clear away the snow and ice from these areas so water does not seep into your home and cause flooding and damage. Don’t forget the cooking spray to make the shoveling easier.

 before the blizzard water damage flooding
Make sure anything that you’re relying on to clear any potential water away is clear and ready to do its job.

Think About Flooding

Make sure all storm drains are clear, basement windows are shut, and the sump pump is working. Test your drains and sump pump by pouring a few gallons of water in and around them to make sure it’s all easily whisked away. If there’s any clogging, back up, or spillage make sure you get that taken care of ASAP. Your nearest hardware store will have replacements and tools to clear the way so your basement doesn’t flood and take everything down there to a watery grave.

before the blizzard burst pipes
A burst pipe is the last thing any property owner wants

It's In the Pipes

Speaking of flooding, a major problem many homeowners face during the winter months is frozen pipes. Especially once the big one hits, things are going to get cold fast, and you don’t want the pipes to burst and take some of your precious belongings with them. Consider turning your water off just for that one night before the blizzard when the temperature is going to dip the lowest. Once the sun rises the water can come back but the heat should be raised to prevent any freezing and, by extension, bursting.

before the blizzard water power outage
Stocking up on water can be a lifesaver if your power goes out with the storm

Water, Water, Water

If the power goes out during or after the storm that means no running water, and that means no flushing toilets.

And more water. “But there is heaps of it frozen outside!” Listen, we hear you, but you are going to want a few extra gallons on hand before the blizzard hits. If the power goes out during or after the storm that means no running water, and that means no flushing toilets. In order to force flush after you go you’re going to need to dump some of that water you have ready. To save money, forget buying buckets or gallons, just fill up a bathtub while the water is still running. Your tub can hold around 80 gallons of water, far more than you’d be able to fill in buckets or want to buy at a store meaning more flushing power so you don’t have to sit with the stink.

before the blizzard snow plow
Your snow plow can be a lifesaver once the snow has fallen so you want to make sure it’s working before the blizzard

Check the Blower

If you are someone lucky enough to own a snow blower during the Ohio winter, make sure you get that baby out before the blizzard. Dig that thing out of your garage or shed or basement or yard and fire it up. Make sure everything is running smoothly, no eerie sounds are coming from the engine, the blades are clear and running smoothly-- basically that you have a well oiled snow blowing machine on your hands. If anything is amiss, your local hardware store-- like Western Ohio True Value Hardware or your local Home Depot-- should be able to get you fixed up, no problem.

The last thing you want is to dig ol’ blowy out with 4 feet of snow on the ground to only just discover she’s not the gal you remember from last winter. Make sure to do this with ample time to get needed parts and repairs before the blizzard hits.

before the blizzard clearing car
Clear your car can be a headache so be sure to prepare before the blizzard comes

Get to the car!

Many people try to leave their cars running, so they’ll eventually heat up in the morning making the ice easier to tackle. This is not to be recommended.

How much of a pain is it to de-ice the car? Currently on the list of Top 5 things worse than hell, de-icing the family car for those of us not lucky enough to have a car-sized garage can be torturous. Especially if you have to park on the street, leaving your car to the mercy of the plows seems like a death omen. Many people try to leave their cars running, so they’ll eventually heat up in the morning making the ice easier to tackle. This is not to be recommended. First, the extra carbon emissions threaten to de-beautify our Ohio in the winter. Second, leaving your car unsecured with the keys in the ignition is just asking for trouble. So, here’s what you’re going to want to do: get a car-sized tarp. Put it on your car. Then, after the snow falls, take it off. And voila! your car is snow and ice free! Shove that bad boy in your trunk and repeat before the next snow. Be the envy of everyone on your block as they scrape and labor over their ice-bound vehicles knowing you’re the only one making it to work on time today.

cat litter can save you in a blizzard
Cat litter isn't just for your furry friends anymore-- keeping some in your car can save you if you get stuck in a blizzard.

The Only Time Cat Litter Will Save Your Life

Many of us don’t have cars perfect for driving over feet of snow, and if the plows let you down, you don’t want to be stranded with a stuck car trying to explain to your boss why you still haven’t come in. Keeping a box of cat litter in your trunk can be a life saver. If the wheels are spinning but you’re going nowhere fast, pour some of the cat litter around the problem. The litter will add some much needed traction that will help you get out of the ditch. Feel weird having cat litter in your car? Try sand, the concept remains the same but when’s the last time you saw sand on the shelves of your local target?

before the blizzard prepare early
Make sure to get up early so you have time to get prepared before work with all the new snow

Get Up Early

Even with all these tricks for getting out of your house with as little delay as possible, making it to work can still be difficult. There are a lot of things property owners have to do to make sure things stayed battened down the morning after the big one. So make sure you set your alarm a little earlier to give yourself time in case disaster struck.

icy branch in blizzard
Don't let snow and ice wreak havoc on your home-- follow these tips, and you can sit back and enjoy the beauty of the Ohio winter instead.

Now that the list is over, make sure you copy and paste it to your Before the Blizzard To-Do List. The Ohio homeowner is going to want to make sure to do each of these essentials before the big one hits this winter. Protecting your property from the elements is very important for the major investment that is your home. For more helpful tips on owning a home in the great state of Ohio check out the tips on the HER Realty Blog.

January 18, 2019
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