With the change of seasons come many delights—vibrant colors, warm gatherings of family and friends, and a lively nip in the air. The crisp atmosphere of fall is just a reminder that winter is on its way, and that means it’s time to get your home ready to deal with the cold. Fortunately, winterizing a house is pretty simple.
Here, we’ll talk about ten steps to follow when winterizing your home.
1. Reverse Ceiling Fans
Most people think about our ceiling fans in the summer when it’s hot, but they can also be used to keep you warm during the winter. Each ceiling fan has a switch to reverse the direction of the blades. During the summer, they should be running counterclockwise. When it gets cold, your fans can be switched to run clockwise to push warm air down instead of pulling it upward.
The next step to winterizing a house is to check the insulation. If it’s a bit thin (less than a foot), add a layer or two, especially in the attic where much of your home’s warm air tends to leak out. Also, it pays to insulate your pipes. A layer of foam insulation around water pipes keeps hot water hot and puts less of a strain on your water heater.
3. Block Gaps
A drafty home in the winter is far from comfortable, and it will raise your energy bills too. The Department of Energy recommends filling any gaps in your door frames or windows with weather stripping or caulk. For doors, lining the bottom with a draft snake is also a simple way to keep your home a little warmer this winter.
You may have gaps in other places too, such as any point where wires or pipes exit the building. Leaks in those areas can be easily sealed with weatherproof caulking.
4. Install Storm Windows and Doors
To further prevent heat loss during the winter, consider installing storm windows and doors. These are placed outside your regular doors and windows, and they give your home a much higher level of insulation than you’d have otherwise. Once installed, make sure they’re kept securely shut to keep warm air in and cold air out.
5. Trim Trees
In most places, winter means snow, and snow can pile up quickly. It accumulates everywhere—lawns, roofs, cars, lampposts, and the trees around your home. If you have any tree branches that extend over your roof or driveway, it’s time to trim them back a little. Otherwise, snow buildup may cause them to break, causing expensive damage to your home.
6. Check the Gutters
To further prevent damage from snow and ice, check your gutters. Clogged gutters can prevent water from flowing off your roof properly. Once that water freezes, it puts extra strain on your gutters, making them more likely to break. It’s easiest to clean your gutters before the first frost. Using a ladder, clear them out with gloves or a gutter scoop, then spray them down with a hose.
This is also a great time to check your gutter system for cracks or leaks. If you find anything, get them repaired promptly.
7. Clean and cover your air conditioner
Once the chill of fall sets in, you probably won’t be using your A/C for a while. The outdoor condenser unit is exposed to the elements, so it’s important to get it ready during winterization.
First off, make sure the power supply to the unit is shut off to keep it from running during warmer winter days. Then wash out any built up debris, clean the drain pan, and insulate the pipes. Finally, cover it with a sturdy air conditioner cover to keep snow and debris off in the coming months.
8. Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Some of the hazards of winter come from heating system issues. Common dangers include carbon monoxide poisoning and home fires, so it’s important to make sure your smoke and CO detectors are working properly. When winterizing a house, take the time to check the batteries in each detector and replace any that are low.
9. Tune-Up Your Heating System
Naturally, winterizing a house involves giving the heating system a tune-up. Whether you have a furnace, boiler, or a heat pump, you’ll want to give it a quick checkup. This is best done professionally, and it will usually run about $100 or so for a routine tune-up (more if any repairs need to be made). The investment is worthwhile, especially since it prevents costly repairs down the road.
Items that may be checked during a heating system tune-up will typically include the system’s fans, blowers, motors, piping, duct work, thermostat, and safety controls. They will also check the filters and change them out if needed.
10. Replace Air Filters
Professionals typically recommend that you replace your furnace’s air filters on a monthly to bi-monthly basis, so it doesn’t hurt to have a few extra filters on hand. Alternatively, you might opt for reusable electrostatic filters which can be washed as needed.
Regularly replacing/cleaning your home’s air filter will keep the ductwork clear of dust and help your heating system run efficiently all winter.
When you follow these steps to winterizing a house, you safeguard it against hefty repairs later on. For another layer of protection, a home warranty can cover more expensive repairs. Compare plans and decide what coverage is best for you today.