How to winterize your home – Forbes Advisor

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  • Work time: Varied
  • Total time: Varied
  • Competence level: Intermediate beginner
  • Project cost: Free if completely DIY; contractor costs will vary depending on the task

Whether you are closing your beach house after Labor Day or preparing your primary residence for the cold season, winterizing is an important process that homeowners shouldn’t overlook for their property.

The goal of wintering a house is to avoid higher energy costs and damage from cold and snow. Here’s how to properly winterize your home so it can withstand the season.

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When to winter a house

Although the start of the cold season varies depending on your area, it is a good rule of thumb to begin the process of wintering your home in early fall. If you decide to DIY it, it will give you plenty of time to do it at your own pace. However, if you are hiring a professional, you will need to schedule service appointments as early as possible – maybe even requesting them during the summer – so you can complete any necessary work before the weather turns bad.

Tools and materials

Tools

  • Ladder
  • Telescopic gutter rod
  • Door sweep
  • Faucet covers
  • Oven filter

Materials

  • Snowblower, shovels and other snow removal tools, including de-icing agents
  • Caulking gun
  • Window film
  • Door brooms

Instructions

Winterizing your home means preparing it inside and out for the cold. The following tasks don’t necessarily have to be done in order, but they should all be completed by the time the cold weather arrives.

1. Clean the gutters

Gutters are the workhorses of the exterior of your home. They keep rainwater and snow away from your roof to prevent water from seeping in and causing damage. But gutters can’t do this all-important job when clogged with fallen leaves and other debris. Whether you hire someone to do it for you or climb a ladder yourself, make sure your gutters are cleared before the first snowfall.

TRICK: A telescopic gutter wand makes cleaning your gutters quick and easy.

2. Inspect the roof and attic

Now is the time to make repairs to your roof so that it does not leak in the rain or snow. If you have an attic, replace or add insulation to prevent drafts.

TRICK: Be sure to wear gloves when handling fiberglass insulation.

3. Check the chimney

If you have a chimney, make sure the chimney is free of any build-up. A dirty chimney can be a fire hazard, so hire a chimney sweep to make sure it’s clear and you can build fires safely all season.

TRICK: If you are not actively using your fireplace, inflate a fireplace balloon and plug the space to protect yourself from the cold.

4. Weatherproof windows and doors

Cold air can seep through windows and doors, so be sure to replace any weatherstripping around them. Apply caulk to seal the spaces around the windows. You can also do this for siding cracks. Unless you have newer, more energy efficient windows, you can apply window film to protect you from the cold. A door broom installed at the bottom of your door can also prevent drafts.

TRICK: To find the source of a draft, hold a lighted candle a few inches from a window or door. If the flame is out, apply caulk or weather stripping to this area.

5. Protect the pipes

Frozen pipes can burst during the winter and cause major problems for homeowners. Here are some steps you can take to avoid this winter nightmare:

  • Know the location of your main water shut-off valve so you can access it quickly in an emergency.
  • Drain water from outdoor sprinklers and garden hoses. Disconnect the garden hoses from the faucets and store them in a garage or shed. Cover the faucets.
  • Repair or replace broken windows so that cold air cannot enter a room and freeze pipes, especially in the basement.
  • Walk around the perimeter of your home and close any other vents you might have opened during the hot season.

TRICK: If you are away from home during the winter, be sure to keep your thermostat set to around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. A programmable thermostat makes it easy to keep your home at the right temperature so your pipes don’t freeze.

6. Maintenance of the HVAC system

Replace your furnace filter and make an appointment for maintenance so your heating system is ready to operate before you need it. This may mean scheduling a service call when you pump your air conditioner in the summer, as service appointments can be difficult to secure in the height of the season.

TRICK: If you live in a climate where there are four distinct seasons, have your HVAC serviced twice a year to keep it performing well in both cold and hot weather.

7. Prepare your patio and terrace

This is especially important if you live in an area where snow is likely. Cover patio furniture with weatherproof covers or, if possible, store it in a garage or shed. If your deck is wood, a new coat of sealant will protect it in wet weather.

TRICK: Some patio furniture can be left out in cold weather without getting damaged. It all depends on the material used to make it. Teak furniture, for example, can withstand winter, unlike furniture made from other types of wood. If in doubt, cover or put away your outdoor furniture.

8. Make sure the snow removal tools are accessible

It’s one thing to have a snow blower ready to go and waiting in your shed. But that’s another thing when a snowstorm dumps a foot of snow and you can’t get to it. Long before there’s even a single snowflake in the forecast, make sure all of your snow removal tools, including shovels and de-icing agents like salt and sand, are out of storage and easily accessible. when the snow begins to fall. It may be a small task on your wintering list, but it is an important task.

TRICK: Need new shovels or a snow blower? Buy them any time of the year except during the winter when stocks are low and prices are high. Your best chances of catching a sale will be before or after the snow season, but be aware that inventory will likely be limited if you wait past winter.

When to call a pro

Winterizing a home can be a DIY project, but like many home improvement projects, a professional like a general contractor can do it faster and easier. If you decide to prepare your home for winter yourself, allow plenty of time before the cold arrives. If you discover any issues that could pose a danger to yourself or your property, you should immediately seek professional help so that you don’t get left behind in the cold in your own home this winter.

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