Depending on where you live, there is a severe chance you will want to winterize your home!
Keeping your house warm, free of frozen pipes, and checking your heating system are just a few tips you will want to consider before cold weather moves in.
Today, we will share some of our best home winterization tips to help you get a leg up on mother nature!
10 Steps to Winterize Your Home
Below we share the top ten house winterizing tips you can do/inspect for each fall as winter approaches. Some on the list include just a simple visual check, while others might require some manual labor or even hiring a contractor.
Always consider your home's winter needs to prevent heat loss, frozen pipes, and other wintery issues!
How to Save for Home Maintenance:
Contrary to what you might imagine, home maintenance is something that most financial planners will tell you to budget for. In fact, according to a State Farm article, anywhere from 1%-4% of your home's value should be saved annually for regular home maintenance.
Your home maintenance budget accounts for EVERYTHING, from the roof shingles to your home's appliances, but also annual services like HVAC checks. Set a goal to create a “Housing Emergency Fund” to help you with these items below.
1. Protect Your House From Cold Air
Extreme winter weather can cause many issues depending on where you live.
Heat escapes through your windows, doors, chimney, and potentially other areas during the winter season. To effectively winterize your home, you will want to complete this winter home checklist:
- Check pipes
- Install draft guards or caulk cracks around doors/windows
- Check or install carbon monoxide detectors
- Service your furnace
- Clean your gutters
- Winterize your spickets
- Get your chimney inspected
- Seal your house from cold air
- Make sure your water heater is in working condition
- If you have a propane tank, make sure it is full
- Bring the outdoors indoors (plants, furniture, toys, hoses)
- Avoid Frozen Pipes
Burst pipes are the last thing you want to deal with when it is cold outside.
Rolling up your garden hoses for winter is one thing, but you must ensure you shut off the water source to your outdoor faucets! Here are the steps to winterize your outdoor spickets:
- Find the main water supply pipe for your home
- Somewhere next to that will be additional lines with red handles for your outdoor water lines
- Turn them to the off position
- Check your spickets to ensure no water comes out when you turn them on.
- To prevent your pipes from freezing temperatures, you will want to leave the faucets halfway open that way, any water in the lines can drain properly!
Suppose you are in the process of winterizing your home and suspect other pipes may be in danger of freezing (older homes). In that case, you will likely need to hire a professional to ensure there is enough insulation around the pipes.
2. Inspect Your Heating System (Service Your Hvac System)
Unless you still use a wood-burning stove to heat your home, most people have a heating system to keep their home warm. Here are some simple heating system service tips:
- It is best to get your heating system checked every fall or, at the very least, test it yourself.
- Next, you have a furnace filter that needs to be checked. To make the process simple, determine what system you have and use their online guide.
- If you have propane, make sure it is full for the winter!
When you service your heating system, you will not only ensure a warmer winter but also save money.
3. Clear & Check Your Roof
Your home's roof is very similar to how you and I breathe. The ridge vent combined with the roofing material protects from mother nature, letting your house breathe during the summer and winter months.
So while your roof can help keep your home energy efficient, it can also cause issues when you have missing shingles, ice dams, or other roofing issues. Ice dams can cause severe problems for your roof that are often not covered by your roof's warranty.
Be sure to inspect your roof every few years and after large storms. Also, be sure NEVER to nail Christmas lights into your roof shingles.
Lastly, shingles are meant to prevent leaking from occurring, but that doesn't mean they help with keeping warm air inside. That is the job of #5 below – insulating your attic floor correctly!
4. Insulate Your Attic & Keep Warm Air Inside!
If your home's roof is designed to keep your home dry, the attic's job is to keep the air inside. A properly insulated attic will keep your house cool in the summer and trap warm air inside during the winter.
Depending on the age of your home, your attic floor should be insulated. For some reason, if you have an older home or notice your warm air seems to be escaping, you may want to consider getting your attic inspected by an insulation company.
Contractors are now using spray insulation to help heat your home correctly. The bright side is that once this is done correctly, you won't have to worry about this again. You will prevent heat loss in the winter and cold air loss in the summer!
5. Seal Your Cracks!
Got a caulk gun handy?
You have a few options if you find air leaks that result in heat loss or cold air entering your home around your windows and doors.
- First, check all of your doors and windows from the inside
- Make a note of any that may be allowing cold air to enter or your warm air to exit
- Inspect the weather stripping around these areas
- Decide if you need to caulk that area, replace weather stripping, or call a professional!
Remember to effectively “Winterize” your home, you must block the cold.
6. Do Your Winter Landscaping Projects
Wait, winterizing your home means landscaping in the winter? Yes and no.
Robin Hickman, a reputable real estate agent out of Charlotte, NC, put it this way;
“You may want to sell your house in the spring, but many homeowners don't realize that preparing your home's curb appeal in the winter can help when spring's growing season rolls around.”
She went on to share that she recommends her clients always consider the following:
- Collect and remove dead branches
- Aerating and overseeding their yard to boost your lawn
- Removing leaves and excess organic buildup
- Having your home and patios pressure washed (or wait until spring)
- Applying a winterization fertilizer
- Getting your pool winterized if you have one!
- Bring outdoor plants in before the first cold snap
- Consider pressure cleaning your driveway and hard surfaces (can also wait until spring)
On another note, it is also an excellent time to put away outdoor furniture and patio sets and ensure your snow blower is in working condition.
7. Get a Chimney Sweep.
If your house has a chimney, you must ensure it is in working order before using it. Creosote buildup, nests, and other debris can collect in your chimney, and lighting a fire could be hazardous without first checking your fireplace.
Simply look for a chimney sweep company near you, and you should be fine. You can also consider a chimney balloon to help prevent cold air from entering.
Bonus Chimney Balloon:
A chimney balloon is precisely what it sounds like. An inflatable balloon will help prevent air from entering your chimney when the temperature drops in the winter. These inflatable balloons fill your chimney on all four sides.
Results may vary, and there are mixed reviews, but it can be worth using if you're big on saving on your energy bills!
8. Clean Your Gutters!
Be sure always to clean your gutters, or at the very least, check them once all the leaves are done falling each year.
You might not know that your home checklist must always have clean gutters. Sticks, leaves, and other debris can accumulate in your gutters, and while they might seem light when dry, leaves are heavy when wet.
The accumulation of wet leaves not only blocks water from flowing down your gutter spouts but also can pull your gutters away from the fascia of your home.
Tyler Bunch, a residential and commercial pressure washing company owner, puts it this way:
You can pay to have your gutters cleaned each fall for a few hundred dollars or run the risk of ice dams, blockages, and bigger issues such as roof leaks.
Don't go long periods without cleaning your gutters, especially if you live in a wooded area.
Do you want to avoid having to clean your gutters?
Ladders are dangerous, and gutter cleaning is annoying. Consider installing self-cleaning gutter guards, meaning you don't have to clean them. Clean gutters help with melting snow and spring rains. Be sure to research the best gutter guards before installing cheap gutter screens that will end up causing more work for you!
9. Get a Programmable Thermostat
To save on your energy bills and stay warm, you should consider getting a programmable thermostat for your home.
The Department of Energy suggests keeping your house at 68 degrees during winter. One of the best ways to do this is to use wifi enabled thermostat so you can control the temperature when you are away at work, sleeping, or traveling.
10. Lookout for Rodents!
When you get cold, so do the rodents!
While there isn't a guarantee a rodent will get into your home, there is always a chance they might.
Mice love coming indoors during the colder months, and the best thing to do is to keep your pantry organized while staying on the lookout for mice droppings. If you notice droppings, be sure to get a few mouse traps.
In rare but extreme cases, you might find a squirrel or rodent in your attic space. Always call an animal control company for rarities like this. Removing a rodent can cost a few hundred dollars, but the damage they can cause is even more costly.
The Final Word on Winterization –
Don't let this cold weather winterization list overwhelm you! Chances are you have two simple goals:
- Keep the heat inside
- Stay warm this winter!
Knowing this, we offer a few simple parting tips to help you prioritize house winterizing:
- Focus on HVAC systems and your thermostats
- Be sure to double-check outdoor spickets to avoid freezing pipes!
- Check your gutters
- Check for cold drafts around windows and doors
If you tackle the four above, the rest will fall into place, and you can complete things like chimney sweeps and attic insulation in the coming years.
Josh writes about ways to make money, pay off debt, and improve yourself. After paying off $200,000 in student loans with his wife in less than four years, Josh started Money Life Wax and has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post and more! In addition to being a life-long entrepreneur, Josh and his wife enjoy spending time with their chocolate lab named Morgan, working out, helping others with their debt and recommend using Personal Capital to track your finances.