The winter season gives us a lot to look forward to each year. Winter brings some of the most enjoyable holidays where families come together to enjoy each other’s company and express gratitude. Even if you don’t celebrate the holidays, there are also fun family activities, like building snowmen, sledding, and going on skiing trips.
However, winter also brings extremely cold temperatures. These temperatures can make living day to day life more of a struggle, especially if you’ve failed to winterize your home.
We don’t want that to happen to you! Therefore, we’ve compiled a checklist of things you need to do to make sure your home is ready for the cold. Keep reading for everything you need to know about preparing your home for winter.
1. Put Plastic Over Poorly Insulated Windows
If you live in an older home or apartment building, odds are the windows are not modern or economically friendly. For example, many older homes used single-pane windows, which do almost nothing to insulate your home. Modern windows are double-paned and have gas or air between the two layers to block out outside temperatures.
If you have poorly insulated windows, tape clear plastic around each window to reduce drafts. You might be surprised how much easier it is to keep your house warm.
2. Seal Up Cracks, Gaps, and Other Drafts
However, people with older-style windows aren’t the only ones who experience drafts. Even modern windows can be vulnerable to unwanted airflow. It all comes down to how well your windows and doors are sealed.
On doors, make sure the weatherstripping fits snug. This is especially important if you have pets who tend to paw at the door. This pawing can damage and tear away vital weatherstripping designed to keep drafts out.
For any other types of cracks or gaps, we recommend using silicon or other sealers to make sure the cold air stays outside where it belongs.
3. Remove Window Air Conditioning Units
Another important step to winterize your home is to remove any air-conditioning units or fans from your windows. Though most window A/C units are designed to fit snugly, you don’t want to allow any extra room for cold drafts to drift through. Furthermore, leaving your A/C unit outside all winter long could ruin it.
4. Replace Your HVAC Filter
As soon as fall and winter hit, people start running the heat in their homes. In most homes, this means using the furnace side of their HVAC unit.
However, before you start running your heat day and night, you need to replace your HVAC filter. An old, dirty HVAC filter could reduce the efficiency of your furnace. Even worse, it could be a fire hazard.
5. Have an HVAC Specialist Give Your System a Checkup
While we’re talking about your furnace, you should probably have the whole HVAC system checked out by a professional before winter sets in. They can make sure everything is in great working condition.
Otherwise, you could end up without heat in the middle of a cold winter night. For example, something as simple as a dirty flame sensor on your furnace could make it impossible for the furnace to stay lit.
6. Insulate Your Pipes
For some homeowners, winter preparedness means insulating their water pipes to prevent freezing. Frozen pipes can deprive your household of running water, lead to clogged drains, and worse.
In some cases, frozen pipes will burst, which can lead to other serious issues. This includes things like water damage, harmful mold build-up, and thousands of dollars in repairs.
If you’re worried about your pipes, you can buy heat tape. Heat tape is a heated electrical wire that wraps around pipes to prevent freezing.
7. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
Though it may not seem like a big deal, you can cut back on your heating costs by reversing your ceiling fans. During the summer, fans rotate counterclockwise to push cool air down.
In the winter, you can reverse the direction of the fan’s rotation. This makes it so the fan pulls cool air up, displacing the hot air that naturally rises and gathers at the ceiling. Reversing the ceiling fan will keep your living space warmer, allowing your heating system to work smarter, not harder.
8. Clean Out the Gutters
Clearing out your gutters is one of the most important steps you should take to winterize your home and prevent damages. If your gutters are blocked, it will lead to snow and ice buildup, which can lead to other problems. Blocked gutters can result in water damage to the facia as well as negative drainage when snow and ice melt.
If you don’t feel comfortable climbing up on a ladder and doing this winter cleaning job yourself, we recommend hiring a professional to do it for you. They can get the job done safely and efficiently.
9. Take Care of Your Yard
It’s also important to prep your yard for winter. Mow the lawn, pull weeds, and trim back other vegetation before the first snow.
It’s also a good idea to remove any pet waste from your yard, rather than leaving it there to sit under the snow all winter. Leaving dog waste in the yard can create a disgusting effect during the various melting and freezing cycles of the winter.
10. Invest in a Humidifier or Oil Diffuser
You’ve probably noticed that your hands, lips, and other areas of your body get incredibly dry each winter. The air is colder and much drier, which leads to dry skin. Some people are affected worse than others, suffering from cracked and bleeding hands and lips.
You can mitigate these issues by investing in a humidifier or oil diffuser to increase the humidity in your home. Learn more here about the difference between a humidifier vs diffuser.
11. Have Your Roof Inspected
Another important step in preparing your home for winter is getting your roof checked out by a professional contractor or roofing company. You need to make sure it’s ready to handle constant moisture in the forms of snow and ice. Any week points in your roof can result in water leaking into your home.
Water leaks can lead to structural rot, interior water damage, and mold.
12. Spray Bug Defense Around Your Home
To properly winterize your home, you also need to take steps to protect it against pest infestations. The cold months of fall and winter drive bugs and other pests indoors looking for a warm place to bed down for the winter.
To avoid finding spiders, ants, and other bugs in your home all winter long, spray bug killer in and around your home multiple times throughout the fall. You should also take steps to seal off access points for other pests, like rodents and snakes.
13. Take Care of Outdoor Water Equipment
When preparing your home for winter, don’t forget about your outdoor spigots and hoses. A hose left connected to the spigot with water inside can lead to a burst water pipe and a ruptured hose. Before winter hits, disconnect and drain all hoses and make sure your spigots are completely turned off.
Another expensive mistake you don’t want to make this winter is leaving water in your underground sprinkler or irrigation system. Doing so could result in burst pipes, which would be costly and time-consuming to replace.
14. Make Room in Your Garage for Your Vehicles
During the spring and summer, many of us take on projects that take up room in our garage. This could include renovations, yard sales, artistic endeavors, and more. Regardless, we often end up taking up so much space that our cars no longer fit in the garage.
When winter comes, you’re going to want your vehicles out of the snow. Using your garage for its intended purpose means you don’t have to spend time before work scraping snow and ice off your car.
15. Make the Necessary Preparations If You Use a Fireplace
If you use a fireplace to keep your house warm, preparing your home for winter looks a little different for you. You need to make sure the chimney is cleaned out and free of buildup and debris.
Just as importantly, you need to start collecting fuel for your fireplace or stove. Some people have a pellet stove and buy pellets from the store. However, many people use traditional wood stoves, which means collecting and chopping enough wood to last you the winter.
16. Make Sure You Have the Winter Essentials
Finally, to winterize your home, make sure you have everything you need in terms of tools, equipment, and other winter essentials. For example, this may be the year to invest in a higher quality snow shovel or go all out and by a snowblower.
You may also need to invest in snow tires for your car, rock salt for your sidewalks, and an extension cord to plug in your car battery if it struggles in the cold.
Winterize your Home Today
If you’re reading this now and haven’t taken any steps to winterize your home, you need to get moving. The sooner you can start taking care of all this stuff the better. After all, it’s better to learn now that you have an issue with your HVAC system than two months from now when it will be much colder.
And if you’re looking for more tips on home improvement, be sure to check out some of our other articles before you go. We can help you prepare for winter, keep bugs outs, save money, and more. Our website was created to help homeowners like you.