As winter is approaching, now is the best time to begin winterizing your home. Make sure to follow this checklist in order to prepare your home for the colder weather, save on heating costs and prevent any possible damage to your home. We’ve also including links to various articles that provide more information on the items on the checklist. We hope you are enjoying this beautiful fall weather while preparing for the winter season!
Inside the Home:
- Windows and Doors: To prevent chilly drafts & expensive heating bills, make sure to check and replace any worn weather strips & caulk any cracks. For loose-fitting doors, you can slide a draft guard or rolled-up towel underneath to fill the gap & prevent cold air from getting in. For old or drafty windows, consider peel-and-stick window insulation film – it might not be the most elegant look, but it can keep up to 70% of heat from escaping. Read more about a dozen easy ways to keep cold air from entering your home.
- Fireplace: Check your fireplace and flue system to remove soot or ashes. Check for any cracks that could be a fire hazard & examine the fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may need to be repaired or replaced. If you’re not planning on using your fireplace at all, invest in a chimney balloon to block the opening – just remember to take it out before you build a fire next season. Most importantly, know what fixes are safe for you to tackle and what should be in the hands of a certified chimney sweep with training and proper equipment. Read more about what a professional chimney inspection is and if you need one.
- Furnace: Before you turn up the heat for the season, start by changing (or cleaning) your furnace filter. It’s also a good idea to have an HVAC professional check your furnace once per year. And if you can’t remember the last time you had your heating ducts checked for leaks and efficiency… an HVAC professional can help with that, too. Read more about how often you should change your furnace filter & learn how to change it.
- Thermostat: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, for every degree lower your home’s temperature during the winter, you can save as much as 1 percent on your energy bill. If you have an older thermostat, consider replacing it with a smart model to save on heating costs. Many new thermostats have algorithms to learn your comings and goings so you’re not paying to keep your home toasty warm when you’re not around. Read more about 10 energy-saving tips to prepare your home for cold weather.
- Other Home Heating: We know they’re cozy but be extra cautious when using a space heater. Space heaters cause about one-third of all winter house fires and 80 percent of all winter heating fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Read more about must-know safety tips for fireplaces, space heaters & wood-burning stoves.
- Drafts and Cracks: Cold air will take advantage of any opportunity to sneak into your home. Read more about a dozen easy ways to keep cold air from entering your house & here’s a list of quick fixes for drafty places:
- Outlets and switch plates: Use foam-insulating sheets to block cold air coming in from exterior walls.
- Exposed ducts: Check your attic, basement, and crawl spaces and use sealant to plug up any leaks or cracks on exposed ducts.
- Floors: Don’t underestimate the power of a thick, cozy rug. Your floors can account for as much as 10 percent of heat loss in a house.
- Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: While you’re in the process of prepping your house for the long winter, check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in good working order. Also, with the increased risk of fire in winter, it’s important to have a family escape plan. You can create one using the National Fire Prevention Association’s online guide.
- Gutters: Start by clearing debris from gutters and downspouts to prevent them from leaking or sagging. Clogged gutters and subsequent water issues can cause foundation problems, wall and ceiling damage, or even insect infestations. Just make sure you do it safely – use a tall, sturdy ladder (and never stand on the top three rungs!), and don’t forget protective eyewear, gloves, and long sleeves to protect yourself against debris, bacteria and pests.Read more about 5 common problems caused by clogged gutters.
- Roof: Snow can be a heavy burden for an old or damaged roof to handle. Before winter hits, inspect your roof for signs of potential problems, like missing, broken, blistered or curling shingles; cracked caulk or rust spots; or large patches of moss and lichen. Any damaged, loose or missing shingles should be repaired right away.
- Trees and Landscaping: It’s a good idea to trim any branches hanging near electric wires before they become a problem. Also, know how to spot the signs of a diseased or dying tree. Heavy snow and strong winter winds can knock down weak branches (or whole trees), so it’s best to do the prep work while the weather’s still mild. Read more about what to do if your neighbors tree falls in your yard.
- Lawn Equipment: Drain the oil and gas from your mower before storing it for the off-season. Gasoline can separate and spoil in only a few weeks, which could potentially damage your engine. Read more about how to extend the life of your lawn mower.
- Snow Removal Supplies: Before the first snow, you’ll be glad you thought ahead and bought supplies early. If you have a snowblower, make sure to inspect the bolts, belts, and parts on it & make sure your snow shovel is in good shape; stock up on ice melt or sand, and invest in a snow rake to help clear your roof. Snow accumulation on your roof that exceeds 20 to 25 pounds per square foot can be dangerous.