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8 Tips for Moving in the Winter

By Thomas O'Shaughnessy | November 1, 2022

Although spring and summer are the most popular times for moving into a new home, sometimes life has other plans. Whether you accepted a new job or you found your dream home for a bargain price, you may need to sell your home quickly and move in the winter. Moving in winter comes with weather-related challenges, but they aren’t impossible to overcome. Here are eight tips to make moving during the winter months smooth as ice.

8 Tips for Moving in the Winter

1. Check the Heating System

Before moving into your new home, check the heating system to make sure it's in good condition and fully functioning. Even if you had a home inspection, a lot can happen within a short period of time. Unfortunately, heating and cooling systems often don’t show signs of failure until you need them most.

Go to your new home and turn on the heat a few days before moving in. Aim to arrive first thing in the morning in case you need to make calls. Check the vents in every room and make sure they're open and that warm air is flowing. 

This is also a good time to check your windows to make sure they are completely closed and that no cold air is flowing through them. Winter isn’t the best time to replace windows, but you can reduce drafts by wrapping the windows with plastic until spring.

If your heat isn't working, contact a couple of HVAC repair companies right away. You can also ask your real estate agent if they know someone who could give you an estimate that same day or within 24 hours. Realtors work for a fee, but as a former client, they will most likely give you free advice, whether it's for repair company recommendations or a home valuation

Some repairs are easy fixes. For total replacement or more complicated situations, there's  usually a short-term fix that can keep your home warm until you can have the work completed. 

2. Pay Attention to Weather Forecasts

It’s always a good idea to check the weather when you're moving, but it’s even more important in winter when snow storms can cause gridlocks on the road. You may still be able to move safely during snowfall, but it helps to have a plan and to be prepared instead of waking up to a blizzard on the big day.

If you’re hiring movers or renting a vehicle, check with the company to see if it has an inclement weather policy should a storm strike on moving day. The policy may allow you to change the moving date to avoid a storm at no or minimal cost to you. 

Stock your new and old home with supplies, such as shovels and ice melt, to fight the elements. 

3. Learn the Snowplow Schedule

When moving in winter, it’s a good idea to know your city’s snow removal schedule. This is especially helpful if you’re moving from out of town because every municipality has a different approach and schedule. 

Some towns require cars to be removed from the street, and you'll want to avoid having your moving truck in the road while the plows are out. If you leave your moving truck on the street, you could find yourself with a snowdrift trapping your vehicle. Worse, you may get towed.

4. Remove Snow and Ice 

On moving day, remove snow and ice from the pathways in front of your old and new homes. Taking time to shovel snow and sprinkle ice melt in advance will save you a lot of time during your move and reduce the chance of slips and falls for yourself and the people helping you move.

Dress appropriately for moving and shoveling. You can still work up a sweat when temperatures are cold, so it’s a good idea to wear several layers that are easy to remove. Choose your footwear accordingly. Make sure whatever shoes or boots you wear have good traction. 

Pay attention to your surroundings while moving. It’s easy to become distracted while carrying boxes and furniture, but it’s important to always look at the path you’re taking before you walk across it. Just because a pathway was clear of snow or ice five minutes ago, doesn’t mean it’s free of obstructions now.

5. Cover Floors

You can save yourself from a major cleanup by covering the floors inside of your home. Some moving companies provide carpet runners, which you can put down to trap water and dust that collects on shoes outside.

You can also place tarps on pathways if you’re moving on your own. When you finish loading at your old house, carefully roll up the tarp, keeping the clean side out so you can use it again at your new home.

6. Take Extra Care With Fragile Items

Take extra care when packing fragile items that are more susceptible to damage when temperatures are cold. Wrap fragile items in ample bubble wrap and avoid overpacking items in boxes as the change in temperature can cause items to become more brittle. Label boxes accordingly so you know which boxes need the most care.

7. Move Temperature-Sensitive Items Separately

Some items, such as electronics and musical instruments, also require special care in cold weather and might need to be moved separately. Not all moving trucks and storage facilities are temperature controlled. If your move will take more than a couple hours, consider moving the most sensitive items in your car, where the temperature will be warmer.

8. Winterize Your New Home

Depending on how long your new home has been empty, you may need to winterize it yourself. In addition to checking the heating system and the windows, find out if there are any gaps in doors or around pipes. Place steel wool in these spaces to keep rodents from coming inside, which they are more likely to do in winter. Make sure pipes are properly insulated and ensure all sprinkler systems are drained and turned off to keep them from freezing. If you fail to give your new home a winter tuneup, you could find yourself paying a hefty repair bill.   

  • One comment on “8 Tips for Moving in the Winter”

    1. Also, you remember the pipes! Using extra insulation in your basement and attic is a great way to prevent the pipes in those locations from freezing. The insulation will help to keep in heat and provide warmth to the pipes.Even if the attic or basement in your new home already has insulation, you may want to consider applying some extra insulation around problem areas for the winter months and place the insulation between the exterior wall and the pipe.

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