In many parts of the country, winter has already come. However, record heat in the western and central US has delayed winter’s onslaught, which means if you procrastinated winterizing your home, you’re in luck.
In areas that see hard freezes, winterizing is an essential part of taking care of your home. Pipes can burst, energy bills can spike, and ice can seriously damage homes that aren’t properly buttoned up before the first frost hits. So for the “I’ll do it next weekend” crowd, here are the most important things to lock down this winter.
Fill in Gaps
Drafty homes are expensive homes. Finding and filling in gaps keeps cold winter air out and gives your furnace (and gas bill) a break. Here are a few things to focus on when you seal up your home:
- Caulk windows – The caulking on your windows doesn’t last forever, so give yours a brief look over once a year. If it’s starting to crack and peel, it’s probably time to cut it out and replace it. Here’s a good DIY guide to get you started.
- Apply weather strip tape to doors – Any exterior doors should feature high quality foam weather stripping. Make sure the weather stripping on your doors is creating a good seal and not letting in drafts.
- Install draft guards under doors – If your door sits too close to the floor and you can’t apply weather stripping – try a draft stopper. These quickly snap on the bottom of a door and are a great alternative to weather stripping.
- Inflate a balloon in your chimney – Drafts can come from anywhere, especially when you have a large hole in your roof running to your living room. A chimney balloon is a great solution that’s quick to install and easy to remove when you want to enjoy the fire.
Try Some Fall Cleaning
Nothing makes spring-cleaning easier than fall cleaning first. So while you tidy up the yard and get the leaves off the lawn, make sure you don’t forget areas that could haunt you come winter.
- Clean out your rain gutters – Rain gutters can easily get choked with leaves, which can lead to ice build up on the one place you don’t want ice buildup – the roof. There are a variety of rain gutter protectors to help you prevent buildup, but the best way to make sure is to get up there with a bucket and a pair of gloves and clean it by hand.
- Trim the trees – Trim any tree branches that hang over power lines or your roof – big branches under heavy snow can cause serious damage.
- Change out air filters – Don’t make your furnace work harder than it needs to, pushing air through dirty filters. Make sure you save on your heating bill this winter by changing your air filters regularly. Especially during the winter as you spend more time indoors, you’ll benefit from the cleaner air.
Insulation, No Leaking
It’s essential that your home be properly insulated before your furnace goes to war with the cold. But don’t forget you can insulate other things to save as well.
- Wrap up your hot water heater – For just $30, you can insulate your hot water heater so it doesn’t need to work quite as hard to keep your water nice and toasty.
- Check your attic insulation – Replacing attic insulation is cheap and has the best return on investment of any home improvement project. Heat rises, which means homes stand to lose a lot of their heat through the attic if it’s not properly insulated.
Winterize your summer gear
Most things that are built for summer don’t hold up to well to the cold – especially exposed pipes and hoses. Protect and blow out any exposed pipes so they don’t freeze, expand, and burst.
- Check water lines – Especially if this is the first winter in your current home, double check all the lines running outside of or underneath your home. If there are water lines, you probably don’t need them in the winter and you can turn them off and blow them out. If you do need to use these lines, make sure the pipes are properly insulated.
- Winterize your air conditioner – You almost certainly don’t need your air conditioner come winter, so button it up nice and tight so it still works when you do need it. Clean off your unit, cover it with a waterproof cover, and make sure to keep snow and ice off of it as they can damage the fan.
- Winterize your sprinklers – Nothing is worse than digging through your yard in the spring, looking for a burst sprinkler pipe. Here’s a useful guide on how to winterize your sprinklers.
Don’t get caught cleaning up after a burst pipe or fallen tree branches. Secure your home before the winter truly begins and you’ll be thankful in the spring.