Preparing your home for winter not only helps you stay warm and cozy during the cool months, but it also reduces energy costs and protects you from accidents and unexpected repairs. No matter what winter has in store for your area, here are 10 things you can do to get your house ready.
1. Clean gutters
Clear out all the debris in your gutters, as it can clog downspouts and keep rain and melted snow from draining. Clogged downspouts can weigh down gutters and result in ice dams, which may cause water to seep into your house.
2. Have furnace inspected
Furnaces should be inspected yearly, so why not do it now before it fails on a freezing night? Also, change your furnace filters monthly.
3. Service fireplace
Like furnaces, fireplaces and chimneys require annual service. Keeping them clean, free of foreign objects, and working properly will ensure they are safe and energy efficient. Additionally, remember to keep your damper closed when the fireplace is not in use.
4. Seal drafts
Drafts are commonly found around doors, windows, recessed lighting, and electrical outlets. If you notice drafts in any of these areas seal them up with caulk, weather stripping, or other inexpensive insulating material. It also helps to fill cracks in outside walls using weather-resistant caulk or masonry sealant.
5. Wrap pipes
No one wants to deal with a broken pipe and the subsequent damage it can cause. So to protect your plumbing, wrap all exposed pipes in foam sleeves or insulation, drain garden hoses and air conditioning pipes, insulate outdoor spigots, and locate your emergency shutoff valve (just in case).
6. Remove dead branches
Look over your property and remove any dead or overhanging braches that, if weighed down with snow or ice, could fall on your home.
7. Repair/clean ducts
A hole or disconnect in duct work can cause you to lose a huge percentage of heated air before it ever reaches your vents. It’s also important to occasionally vacuum ducts to remove dust, animal hair, etc. that can reduce air flow and cause respiratory problems.
8. Insulate windows
If you still have single pane windows, it may be time to upgrade to a more energy efficient model. However, if you’re looking for more affordable solutions, you can buy window insulator kits, which cover your windows with weather-proofing plastic. It also helps to use heavy curtains, and if you have a window ac unit, don’t forget to take it out (or tightly cover) for the season.
9. Inspect electrical wiring
Winter is primetime for house fires. Make sure your family is secure (especially if you live in an older home) by having your wiring and circuits professionally examined. Remember not to overload extension cords, replace any worn or ragged cords, and keep flammable materials a minimum of three feet from space heaters. You should also test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they’re working properly.
10. Close vents in less used rooms
Close the vents in rooms your family rarely uses so more of the heat can be directed where you spend most of your time.
Bonus. Replace roof
Admittedly, this is not a cheap upgrade, but if you’re already in need of a new one, you’ll really appreciate the added protection a modern roof can provide. It will deliver better insulation and safeguard against water damage and roof collapse (things no one wants to worry about in a harsh winter).