Winterizing Your Home: A Checklist for Cold Weather
The fall flies by each year and before you know it, winter is upon you! Now that the holidays are behind us, you should take the time to winterize your home and protect it from the elements. It will not only save you from potential catastrophes, like water main breaks or roof repairs, but simple steps now—even as the weather turns coldest—can help you become more energy efficient and even save you money.
Here’s a comprehensive list on winterizing your home from inside out to get ready for the cold weather ahead.
Get your heating checked out.
Have your heating system inspected by a professional. That way, you can ensure that your furnace or heat pump is clean and in good repair for the highest efficiency.
Cover your patio furniture and/or store it for the winter.
One of the first things my family does as the winter months arrive is to clean and store our patio furniture. We try to find a nice day to scrub and clean chairs and fabric cushions and then cover our remaining patio furniture with outdoor covers to protect them from the harsh winter elements.
Check batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
Before you turn on your furnace, it’s a good idea to take the time for an annual smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector checkup.
Turn off outdoor faucets and disconnect hoses.
Water sitting in faucets and hoses outdoors can freeze, which causes pipes to burst as the water expands. Be sure to disconnect the hoses and drain them before it gets cold. If you have any exposed water pipes in your basement, be certain to take the time to insulate them as well. Many stores carry outdoor spicket insulator kits to further reduce the likelihood of pipe breaks.
Reverse ceiling fans.
While not necessary, taking the time to reverse your ceiling fans can create an updraft to keep heat downward, which will help keep your home warmer and more energy efficient.
Caulk around doors and windows.
If you live in an older house, over the years you’ll notice your doors or windows have more of a draft. When we repainted the outside of our home, we took the time to re-caulk around the doors and windows, which eliminated the draft and therefore kept our house warmer. If you need more than caulking to help with drafts, consider draft stoppers to put under or around your doors and windows to keep the warm air in and the cold air out.
Stow your mower and outdoor lawn and yard equipment.
Be sure that your outdoor items like mowers and weed eaters are put away for the winter. It’s also a good idea to drain the excess gas from them to add life to your equipment and protect your investment, so they work well next spring. If you have outdoor recreational items like pools or trampolines, take the time to winterize them or take them down as the cold months approach.
Wash your windows and screens, and insulate old windows.
This is only nice because then you can go into the winter and enjoy the holidays with clean windows. It can also be done in the spring if preferable. There are lots of ways to insulate older windows to keep things warmer, but often a simple shade or curtain panel can help reduce heat loss by 10 percent.
Change your furnace filter and check your vents.
At the start of each winter, we always prioritize changing our furnace filter. It’s also important to check your vents to make sure that you feel air flow coming from them and that they aren’t blocked.
Have your chimney cleaned, if applicable.
If you have a chimney, hire someone to clean and inspect it before starting your cozy winter fires.
Walk around your house to check for proper grading and drainage.
Ensure that there aren’t gaps around your home’s foundation where water could pool up or freeze. This helps keep your basement dry through the winter. If you have mulching or landscaping, make sure your flower beds are sending water away from your house rather than up against it.
Clean your gutters and check your roof for repairs.
If your gutters are still filled with leaves or debris, you risk causing damage to your roof, siding or wood trim—and that can lead to leaks. Be sure that your gutters are clean for the winter and that no shingles are missing from your roof.
Close vents in unused rooms in your house.
If you don’t use it, there’s no reason to heat it! Shut the vents in unused areas so that the warm air can circulate through the rooms you use the most.
Clean behind your refrigerator.
After unplugging your refrigerator, pull it out and clean the back and underneath it. You may consider draining your freezer as well. This helps increase your refrigerator’s lifespan and forces you to make room for the food stockpiling you might be doing to prep for the bad weather days.
Put winter tools in an easily accessible place.
You never know when you’ll need that snow shovel or snow blower, and having it easily accessible when a storm hits will help you in the long run.
Check your outlet covers.
This may come as a surprise, but you can actually lose heat through your outlets. If you feel a draft coming from your outlet, remove the plate and install outlet seals, which are simple die-cut foam pads that insulate your outlets and reduce the draft.
Plant your spring bulbs.
If tulips and daffodils are your thing, be sure to take the time to plant your spring bulbs before it gets too cold out. When they bloom, you’ll appreciate the reminder that spring has arrived and your hard work winterizing your home paid off!
Other simple winterization tips include:
- Emptying and storing outdoor planters
- Pulling weeds and annual plants
- Raking leaves
- Cutting down dead trees and limbs and cleaning up yard debris
- Reseeding or aerating your lawn
- Washing and storing outdoor or patio rugs
- Cleaning and storing your grill and/or smoker
- Cleaning your garage and organizing tools and equipment
- Checking for lint and debris in your dryer’s exhaust tube
There are so many simple things you can do to give yourself the peace of mind that comes with being fully prepared for the colder months.
Abbey DeHart is a working mother of two who crunches numbers during the day and blogs by night. A widely-published blogger on sites like Ten-X, HomeRight and Angie’s List, Abbey also writes for Home Depot about DIY projects and home improvement.