10 Tips for Winterizing Your Home

10 Tips for Winterizing Your Home

Now that Old Man Winter is here, it is time to prepare your home for winter. 
Here are 10 easy tips for winterizing your home:

  1. Wrap those Pipes
    Before freezing nights hit, make certain the water to your hose bibs is shut off inside your house (via a turnoff valve), and the lines are drained. You can also install Styrofoam cups with a screw attachment to help insulate spigots. Look for other pipes that are not insulated, or that pass through unheated spaces and wrap them with pre-molded foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation, available at hardware stores.
  2. Cover those Windows and Seal those Doors
    Check around windows and doors with a candle or a light piece of thread on a windy day too determine where drafts are. This will reveal problem areas in need of immediate attention. Remove and replace damaged caulk and weather-stripping. Self-stick foam and rolled rubber weather stripping are easy to install. An inexpensive method of weatherizing windows involves attaching thin, clear plastic film to the window trim inside of the house using two-sided tape. The film is then stretched tight using a blow dryer to remove wrinkles and creases. Closed shutters, window shades, blinds, curtains, and lined draperies all help save energy and insulate windows. Consider installing efficient replacement windows, or storm windows and doors to make your home more energy efficient.
  3. Check the Furnace
    First, turn your furnace on, to make sure it's even working. A strong, odd, short-lasting smell is natural when firing up the furnace, but if the smell lasts a long time, shut down the furnace and call a professional. Check your furnace filter monthly and replace it as necessary.
  4. Reverse Ceiling Fans
    Set your ceiling fan at its slowest speed and reverse it in order to gently push warm air down from the ceiling without generating a breeze.
  5. Don’t forget the Chimney
    A chimney should be inspected before use each year. Just ask for a Level 1 inspection, in which the professional examines the readily accessible portions of the chimney. Most certified chimney sweeps include a Level 1 service with a sweep. Buy a protective cap for your chimney, with a screen. This will keep out foreign objects (birds, tennis balls) as well as rain that can mix with the ash and eat away at the fireplace's walls. To keep out cold air, you should keep the chimney's damper closed when the fireplace is not in use. Add glass doors to reduce heat loss as the fire dies down.
  6. Check Smoke Detectors
    Check the operation and change the batteries on your home's smoke detectors. Test them with a small bit of actual smoke, not just by pressing the "test" button. Also, make sure your fire extinguisher is still where it should be, and still works.
  7. Clean Gutters
    Once the leaves fall, remove them and other debris from your home's gutters, so that winter's rain and melting snow can drain. Clogged drains can form ice dams, in which water backs up, freezes and causes water to seep into the house. Also, make sure the downspouts are carrying water away from the house's foundation, where it could cause flooding or other water damage.
  8. Trim Trees
    Take time now to trim any weak branches that look as if they could cause problems during winter storms. Trimming the trees during mild weather is much easier than trying to do it when it is frigid outside.
  9. Add Insulation
    Adding insulation is one of the best ways to save energy all year round. During the winter months, that extra insulation makes your home feel warmer. Most homes require 12 to 15 inches of insulation in their attic.
  10. Mind the Thermostat
    In the winter your home does not need to be quite as warm when you are away from the house, so remember to turn the thermostat down before you leave. You may want to invest in a programmable thermostat, which can tell your home’s heating system to gear up for your arrival after work, or to knock off a bit until an hour or so before you get up in the morning.