Cooler temperatures during the fall are the best time to think about how to winterize your home. Not only can spending a little time now can mean preventing much bigger and more costly problems down the road, it can make your home more comfortable and efficient. We have put together a simple checklist of ways to winterize your home and property from the outside in.
Winterize your home ’s exterior:
1. Check your home’s roof for damage.
Broken or warped shingles, gaps around chimneys or vents can allow water and wind damage. Check for deterioration in flashing around chimneys, vents, and skylights. Gaps also allow heat to escape, so repairs can improve your heater’s efficiency. Use binoculars for a visual inspection or hire a professional to do a thorough inspection.
2. Maintain the Gutters
Clean your gutters, removing leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts. Secure loose gutters and make sure downspouts are attached and free-flowing. Downspouts should drain 5 ft from house to prevent flooding of your foundation during snow melt.
3. Prevent freezing pipes
Drain outdoor faucets, pool lines, and landscaping irrigation lines. Insulate any pipes that are exposed. If you have had a sunroom/three season room installed ensure that any water lines are off and drained. Consider how the winter elements and cold will effect the contents of the room.
4. Check for cracks or gaps in sidewalks, steps, porches, and driveways.
Any gaps over ⅛ inch should be filled and repaired to prevent further damage by ice. Check hand rails and decking for loose fasteners. Don’t risk grabbing for a loose rail on icy stairs!
5. Winterize your outdoor plants.
Hardier plants can be protected by banking them with straw or burlap. Tender plants should be brought indoors to a more sheltered spot before the temperature dips below 45 degrees.
Winterize and insulate your home’s interior:
6. Insulate the attic
Check attic and crawl spaces for adequate insulation. In addition to keeping you more comfortable, insulation can help protect your home from water damage. When an attic is too warm, the ice and snow on the roof melts while the roof’s edge stays frozen, forming ice dams. Ice dams cause melting water to sit, potentially leaking through into the house or causing damage to shingles and roofing materials. Blown in insulation at the proper depth is the most effective type of insulation.
7. Check for air gaps in the attic.
Be sure to pull back attic insulation to check for gaps. Fill any holes around light fixtures or attic access hatches, gaps around chimneys or other structural penetrations through the ceiling. Foam or caulk combined with insulation is an effective way to close any gaps you find.
8. Mind the Windows
Winterize windows and doors with weatherstripping and caulk. In addition be sure to replace screens and screened doors with storm windows. If your windows are older, consider replacing them with energy-efficient newer windows. Well-insulated windows allow light and warmth into your home while winterizing you against the cold weather.
9. Do an energy audit of your home.
There are several ways to upgrade your home’s energy efficiency and winterize for your comfort. Upgrade your thermostat to a programmable model that can drop the temperature while you are at work or asleep. Add an electric blanket to your water heater, especially if it is located in the garage or basement. Consider replacing light bulbs with brighter, more efficient LED bulbs.
Winterize your home for safety:
10. Safety check
Check the batteries in CO detectors and smoke detectors. Install one detector on each floor of home including the basement. Check or replace fire extinguisher, bearing in mind that a fire extinguisher should not be used after six years. Do a check of the basement and garage and discard leftover hazardous chemicals and cleaners. This is important for both fire safety and air quality during winter when doors and windows stay closed more.
11. Are the heaters and furnace up for the task?
Check and maintain heaters or schedule an inspection/ Replace furnace filters, and clean vents by vacuuming, washing, or replacing filters, depending on the type of filter. Clean vents improve the efficiency of your heater. In addition, cleaning vents and filters monthly improves the air quality in your home.
12. Keep the Fireplace safe
Schedule a fireplace, chimney, or wood stove inspection before lighting the season’s first fire. A good rule of thumb is to have an inspection after each cord of wood is burned. Check for creosote build-up, bird or animal nests within the chimney. Make sure the damper is in working order. Warped or damaged dampers can allow cold draughts into your home. When checking the roof for damage, check for chimney damage. Also, make sure the flue cap and screens are in place.
Most of these ideas for winterizing your home are simple projects that anyone can do. But if you choose to hire a professional for any of these winterizing tasks, give us a call. It can be well worth it in time and effort to make these improvements for a comfortable winter.