8 Essential Tips for Winterizing Your Home

Posted on Dec 28 2015 - 9:51am by Andrea Davis

Winter HomeThe snow is falling, the fire is roaring and all your daily worries begin to melt away as you sip on a piping hot cup of tea. This is probably what you’d like to be doing during a winter storm, but things like failing HVAC systems, frozen pipes and clogged chimneys can turn your home from cozy to chaotic, all in the drop of a hat (or tree limb). To avoid annoying (and occasionally dangerous) winter related problems, here are eight essential steps to keep you happy and your house healthy:

#1 Seal windows and doors.

Everyone hates a draft--especially in the morning. Having carefully sealed windows and doors is imperative to keeping the cold air where it belongs: outside. Before winter weather hits, double-check the seals around your home to ensure they’re not leaking warm air. Also, if you have the time (and budget), look into having your doors and windows re-sealed with weather-stripping.

If you’re in search of a quick fix, old blankets or other thick linens placed under doors will work as a temporary solution. Your local home improvement store will also carry a window insulation kit to help stop leaks (if you’re into DIY projects). Checking the drywall and exterior of your home for any holes and re-caulking them is a great way to give your home an additional edge.

#2 Check your heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) system.

When was the last time you serviced your HVAC system? Since you don’t want your heating to dip-out during a winter storm, it’s important to make sure your current system is in good shape. Typical HVAC upkeep includes: filter changes, pipe/connection inspections and thermostat tests (especially if you have a smart system). Additionally, if there are issues with the wiring or face of the machine, it’s time to invest in repairs for the thermostat. Unless you have extensive experience repairing HVAC systems, it’s best to leave these repairs up to a professional.

#3 Clean chimney.

Before you build that big holiday fire in the family fireplace, make sure to have it professionally cleaned. (And by “it,” we mean the fireplace and the chimney.) Weather damage, shifting foundations and creosote buildup can lead to some pretty serious problems if ignored. Again, because of the potential cost of a do-it-yourself inspection, it’s highly advised that you have a professional inspect and clean your chimney.

#4 Inspect the roof, gutters and downspouts.

Before winter weather hits, it’s always a good idea to have your roof inspected by a professional. If any holes, leaks, or missing tiles/shingles are discovered, it’s important to have the problem fixed immediately. Also make sure your roof is properly insulated-- a lack of insulation will increase your heating bill if left unchecked.

Downspouts and gutters systems also need a thorough check to prepare for snow and ice. Gutters clogged with leaves or dirt prevent moisture from running through your system. Instead, precipitation begins to collect en-masse--causing serious gutter and siding damage. To avoid gutter issues, make sure you have them cleaned before the next winter storm.

#5 Insulate your pipes.

If you have any exposed pipes, now is the time to insulate them. Use foam, newspapers, or anything insulated (be careful, some pipes become hot and can cause fires if they’re in contact with something flammable) and wrap the pipe using duct tape to secure the covering. Also make sure that any sprinkler systems or pipes leading to a pool are insulated and turned off. Any outdoor faucets should be insulated and covered for the winter as well.

#6 Prepare the yard.

To avoid your yard becoming a springtime mud pit, take steps to keep it maintained throughout the winter. This includes: trimming trees/bushes, putting away furniture and planters, as well as periodically shoveling snow and ice away. If you need help getting rid of winter precipitation, you can always hire a snow removal service to help.

#7 Put the ceiling fan in reverse.

To keep your home warm, another preparatory step is to reverse the circulation of your ceiling fan. Doing so allows the cold air to be pushed to the ceiling, while the warm air is forced back down into the living room. When spring comes around you can always change the circulation back, but utilizing this step gives you more warmth for less money--that’s a win-win.

#8 Keep the heater temperature down.

Modern heaters are great (no hauling/splitting wood, no severe fire hazards and they actually heat your home), but they don’t have to run constantly to do their job. Try dropping the temperature at night so your heater works less while you’re asleep. This way you can optimize the heater during the day and just use a space heater at night. You can also insulate your heater to help it withstand any potential damage from freezing temperatures.

7 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Irvine Herb, gutter expertise January 5, 2016 at 6:33 am - Reply

    Just to make sure the readers understand the risks – If you don’t have a proper insulation there will be some ice accumulation known as ice damps. The water from it might end straight in your house or worse – in your basement! Choose between two solutions for this – a well maintained roof insulation OR cooling the whole roof with ventilation(the ice dams issue is caused of temperature differences on your roof).

    Regards, Irvine, a professional gutter cleaner.

  2. Nico Pirnazari February 27, 2019 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    Last year we had some really cold weather in March. The so called “beast from the east!” so te advice in this article is still pertinent!

  3. Robyn Chen October 10, 2019 at 5:54 am - Reply

    Great read – it’s getting to that time again when all these tips will come in handy. Best get them done now before its too late!

  4. Darek June 23, 2020 at 9:11 am - Reply

    Frozen pipes are one of the most common problems faced by homeowners in the winter months. So as you’re planning for the cold weather to come in, it should be a job at the top of your list to make sure you don’t end up in this situation.

  5. The Gutter Professionals September 1, 2020 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    We all now that frozen pipes underground are an issue, but please tell people not to forget their guttering. If they get thgem cleaned regulary, it will not be an issue, but..if they are allowed to get blocked and then freeze – world of pain and lots of expense – could be new guttering, fascias, soffits the works..Better to spend a few bucks every so often and remove the problem.

  6. heating swindon September 7, 2020 at 5:04 am - Reply

    Waht we also want to remind people about is their boilers. These are the heart of your heating system. So you need to get them serviced on a regular basis, if you do not, when there is an issue you may find that your manufacturers warranty is not valid – this can end up costing you a fortune. You may think it just involves a quick check, but is doesnt and very often it is a case that issues are observed and can be rectified before they get to out of hand

  7. Professional Window Cleaner November 14, 2020 at 7:51 am - Reply

    Can we state that cleaning windows is not just a job for teh summer and when there is no rain. People need to know that rain water can actully degrade window seals as well as gutter seals due to teh acid that is present. Windows should be cleaned on a regualr basis with water to ensure that the seals are kept free form algae and mould…

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