As the days grow shorter and temperatures drop, you should start preparing for winter. Winterizing your home is an easy and inexpensive way to keep warm during the colder months.
13 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter
Is your home ready for winter? While you probably want to soak up every autumn day, you should take the time to prepare your home for the upcoming winter season. Use this checklist to make sure you’re ready for another round of the cold and snow.
“The top areas of your house that can lose heat in the winter months are around your windows and doors, in attics, basements and crawlspaces where the openings are not sealed and from fireplaces with flues that do not have the damper closed when not in use.”
Michael Hidalgo Grimes | State Farm
Preparing the Outside of Your Home for Winter
1. Clean Out Your Gutters
You should typically clear out your gutters and downspouts a few times a year, depending on how many trees you have. But emptying them before freezing temperatures set in is an important first step to winterizing your home. If your gutters seem to fill up with debris quickly, try installing leaf guards to keep them clean longer.
2. Assess Your Roof
Roof maintenance is best done before the cold sets in, and it’s crucial for preparing the outside of your home for winter. The best way to determine your roof’s integrity is to do a visual inspection. You will want to look for sections of the roof where the shingles are cracking, bending, or just plain missing. Loose screws and rusted panels should also be checked to see if there are some potential leaks in the making. Review our roof maintenance checklist to ensure your roof is ready to withstand the winter months.
3. Protect Your Wood Deck
Before you start decking the halls, make sure you’re taking care of your deck. Sweep your deck clean of fallen leaves and other dirt and debris. If you didn’t apply a fresh coat of sealer in the spring, now may be the time to do that before the snow starts falling. You can lay a large tarp down to protect your wood or make sure to be diligent about using a plastic shovel for snow removal. Focusing on maintaining your deck year-round can help preserve its lifespan.
4. Flush Your Sprinklers
As you winterize your home, pay special attention to water sources. If your lawn has a sprinkler system, it’s important to shut the water off before the ground freezes. You will also want to flush the existing water out of the pipes. To do that, open up the manual valve and flip on the system or, alternatively, use a compressor to blow the remaining water out of the system.
5. Check Your Snowblower
Don’t wait for blustery winds and flurries to get your snow removal equipment in order. If you haven’t run your snowblower in a while, you’ll probably want to change the motor oil, spark plug and air filter before firing it up. Once that basic maintenance is out of the way, turn it on to ensure that everything is running smoothly. You should also lubricate the chute, levers and linkages throughout the machine so that everything turns easily once you’re removing snow.
6. Bring in Outdoor Plants, Furniture and Grill
Before the freezing weather hits, take inventory of all your outdoor accessories and plants. To prevent damage, debug your plants and bring them inside before the first frost hits. Clean all of your outdoor furniture and store in your garage or shed.
You should also clean and store away any summer yard equipment while preparing for winter. For your garden hose, disconnect it from your faucet and put it away. For mowers, you’ll want to scrape off any grass that is caked onto the blades. This can be done with a putty knife or wire brush. You should also take this time to change the oil, air filter and spark plug so you’re good to mow when spring rolls around.
Preparing the Inside of Your Home for Winter
7. Seal Gaps Around Your Doors and Windows
An important goal of winterizing your home is to keep heating bills down and effectively block the cold winter air. Add weather stripping to your doors and caulk any window gaps. To prevent a draft from sneaking in, make sure all your windows stay locked. It may be time to replace your windows if your sashes aren’t meeting and your inner lock isn’t working.
8. Protect Your Pipes
Unheated interior spaces like your garage, attic and basement are most at risk for frozen pipes. Use pipe insulation liberally on any of your exposed pipes in the vulnerable areas of your house. Other ways to protect your pipes from freezing are to keep your garage door closed as much as possible and not let the temperature of your house hit below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Using your garage as a workshop or hangout spot? Learn the best ways to heat a garage for year-round use.
“Frozen pipes are the most common winter loss claim. We also see a lot of water damage from ice dams and space heater fires. These sudden and accidental damages are covered by our standard homeowners policy, but make sure to check with your insurance agent to see what types of winter damages are covered so you can prepare for emergencies.”
Michael Hidalgo Grimes | State Farm
9. Clean Your Chimney and Check the Fireplace Flue
Santa doesn’t want to come down a dirty chimney. Since you probably didn’t use it during the summer, having your chimney inspected and cleaned is an important winterization checklist item for fire safety. Hire a professional inspector to check out your chimney while preparing the inside of your home for winter. An inspector will determine if there has been any buildup through the off-seasons and test your flue for a tight seal when it’s closed.
10. Test-Run Your Heating System and Replace the Filter
Furnace filters should be changed at least every three months, though some experts recommend changing them as frequently as once a month. Call an HVAC professional to come out and inspect the furnace to make sure everything is operational. During their inspection, they’ll clean the furnace and change the filter for you. It’s worth paying a little extra to have them clean out your ducts as well.
11. Cover Your Water Heater
To stop your hot water heater from losing heat as quickly, you can purchase a water heater insulation blanket. This will only run you about $20-25 from your local home improvement store and can save you some cash on your heating bill.
12. Install a Programmable Thermostat
According to Energy Star, using a smart or programmable thermostat will save the average consumer more than 8% of their heating and cooling energy, amounting to around $50 annually. These new thermostats also allow you to customize the temperature of your home based on your personal preferences. Many brands have an app for your phone so you can control your thermostat remotely or without ever leaving your bed. When preparing your home for winter, personal comfort should be a top priority.
13. Change Batteries and Test Smoke Detectors
Winter is the perfect time to crank the heat, light a fire and make some soup on the stove. But while you’re basking in the comfort of your own home, remember that winter is the peak season for fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and test them to make sure they are working properly. If your batteries ran out of juice, get rid of them and buy a new pack.
Stay Warm in Your Winterproofed Home
Once you’ve completed our home winterization checklist, you can worry less and keep warm all season long. Here are some other indoor home improvement projects you can work on to stay busy during the colder months: