How To Winterize Your Home 

How to winterize your home. A house may last for generations, but its parts and systems won't last a lifetime without regular attention. A roof can spring a leak, or a furnace can fail on a frigid winter night. 

For those reasons and more don't wait until the first storm to winterize your home. The few hours spent checking your home's major systems and surfaces and making any needed repairs could save you a bundle on expensive and inconvenient emergency repairs later.

Here's how to winterize your home. Let's start at the top.

How To Winterize Your Home - Roof Patrol

Start with a visual inspection of your home's exterior, starting at the top.

Ensure that roof gutters are clear of debris and that all roofing materials and flashing (those metal seams along the edges) are intact. A roof that is clear of debris and intact is essential to the well-being of your home and everything in it. 

If your roof is flat enough to walk on safely and is not clad in a fragile material (such as tile or thin cedar shingles) you can perform simple tasks yourself with little more than a broom and a few basic tools.

Have someone help you haul the tools you'll need up the ladder and onto your roof as you winterize your home. Using a broom, a lightweight leaf blower, or a hose with a spray attachment, remove leaves and dirt from the rooftop.

Next, use your (gloved) hands and a small brush to remove debris from gutters and downspouts. When all the visible debris is removed, pour water through the gutters and spouts to ensure they drain freely. 

If you prefer, you can clean gutters more safely (albeit more slowly) from a ladder held securely in place by an assistant. 

Next, check the flashing around any chimneys, vents, skylights, or parapet walls. Look for gaps, cracks, and missing shingles. 

If you discover problems, be sure to call and make a service appointment now - before problems become emergencies.

Check the Fireplace and Chimney

Next, check for fireplace or chimney problems. Newer fireplaces and stoves are better than traditional open hearths at controlling airflow and thus providing heat efficiently. 

Whatever the age of your fireplace or stove, professional chimney inspection and cleaning each year is a must to keep soot and creosote from building up and leading to a chimney fire. 

Avoid burning resinous woods such as pine (which leaves creosote in the flue) as well as evergreen boughs and large quantities of paper, which can flare up and quickly flare out of control.

While you'll want to leave chimney cleaning to the pros, undertake minor maintenance yourself: If you burn wood, clean the stove or firebox between fires.

Scoop up cold ashes and place them in a metal container. Close the flue or air intake after each use to keep indoor heat from escaping up the chimney.

How To Winterize Your Home Heating System

Winterize your home heating system. On a cold night, your heating system is the last thing you want to have break down. Not only could such a mishap be uncomfortable and expensive, but it could also be dangerous: A faulty gas or oil furnace may emit deadly carbon monoxide gas.

A fall tune-up for your furnace will prolong its life and keep your family safer while your home is closed up against the chill outdoors.

Older forced-air furnaces should be serviced annually (every two years at the very least) to adjust the belts, lubricate the motor, check safety controls, adjust the air-fuel mixture, and inspect the combustion chamber.

Furnaces that are less than 10 years old should be serviced every 3 to 5 years. You'll need a professional to check for leaks and to test the safety controls.

Depending on the type of heating system you have, there are things you can do yourself to keep it running smoothly and safely. If you have any electric baseboard heaters, the only maintenance required is regular vacuuming of dust.

For forced-air heating systems, clean or change the air filter once every heating season (more frequently if you have pets) and keep the surrounding area clean. Move all combustible materials well away from the furnace. 

Even well-maintained furnaces and appliances can emit toxic carbon monoxide (both odorless and colorless), making carbon-monoxide detectors essential. Test detectors monthly and replace the batteries once a year.

How To Winterize Your Home - Check for Leaks and Mildew

To winterize your home, spot-check your home's exterior and interior. If you see any cracks in masonry or stucco, between siding and window or door frames, or in corners, seal them with caulk to keep air and water out of your walls.

Check seldom-used places such as the attic, basement, and farthest corners of your garage for any sign of leaks. If you discover evidence of a water leak inside - such as wall or floor stains, streaks, or standing water - make appointments for needed repairs. 

A long-standing basement leak could be a symptom of poor grading or impeded drainage around the outside foundation - a serious problem that mere caulking can't solve. 

At least twice a year, use a bleach solution to scrub clean any mildewed areas of your home's exterior. Mildew will eat away at your exterior paint if unattended to, resulting in an expensive fix later. 

As needed, sweep up and remove any debris from outdoor walkways and steps. If you notice any algae or other growths, scrub them off with a hard-bristled brush and bleach. Pedestrian surfaces covered with algae, moss, or other substances can be slippery and dangerous when wet. 

Indoors, regularly peek beneath your dishwasher and washing machine and at the pipes that serve them. Many of the larger appliances have removable panels along the floor, which allow you to peer underneath. Such sleuthing will reveal small leaks that can sometimes go undetected for months.

Also, check for leaks under the sink, especially where the dishwasher drain hooks up to the main drain. 

If you spot a leak, you may be able to fix it yourself. Tighten the nuts on the pipe joints that service the dishwasher and the sink. If you can't stop the flow of water yourself, call a plumber. 

Weather-Strip Doors and Windows 

How to winterize your home. In many homes during cold weather, warm indoor air escapes outside through numerous tiny holes and gaps surrounding pipes and vents, along seams between walls and floors, and between masonry and siding materials.

Wind gusts can also force cold air through these openings and into your house, raising your heating bill.

As your house ages and settles or expands and contracts from changes in temperature or humidity,  these gaps can open and admit moisture into your walls. 

If you see light around your doors and windows from inside or feel a draft, it' time to winterize your home. Seal with weather stripping or caulk. 

Weather stripping - a narrow piece of metal, vinyl, rubber, felt, or foam that seals the space between the door and the frame - can be installed on the interior to winterize your windows and doors.

Installation of most weatherstripping is simple, involving either stick-on materials or the more durable metal stripping that is put on with small tacks.

Experts recommend weather stripping the entire perimeter of exterior doors: Affix one continuous strip along the top and sides and attach a floor "sweep" to the inside bottom of the door. Most weatherstripping kits and door sweeps come with detailed instructions.

If you find gaps on the outsides of window or door frames, they'll need to be caulked. You can do this easily with a caulking gun and an inexpensive, exterior-rated caulk. Latex caulk is the simplest to use: The excess can be cleaned up with water. It can also be painted.

Begin by cleaning the area thoroughly to give the caulk a good surface to adhere to. Squeeze the gun trigger and apply the caulk. Smooth the caulk line and clean the excess with a wet sponge before the caulk dries.

OK, you have your winterization checklist. There's no time like the present to get started. 

As an incentive, picture this lovely holiday scene: The guests are arriving, the heater is on the blink, the roof is leaking, and the chimney catches fire. This is no time to be a Scrooge. 






You Might Like These:

  • Easy money saving ideas. Keeping your home up and running can cost a bundle. These money saving ideas can help you reduce your household deficit.

    Easy Money Saving Ideas

    Easy money saving ideas. Keeping your home up and running can cost a bundle. These money saving ideas can help you reduce your household deficit.

  • Home may be where the heart is, but it is also where germs, dust, mold and mildew set up shop. These tips for cleaning for a healthier home can help.

    Cleaning for a Healthier Home

    Home may be where the heart is, but it is also where germs, dust, mold and mildew set up shop. These tips for cleaning for a healthier home can help.

  • Yes, you could always just hang something over the wall hole to hide it from sight. Almost as easy? You can fix a wall hole yourself. Here's how.

    How to Fix a Wall Hole

    Yes, you could always just hang something over the wall hole to hide it from sight. Almost as easy? You can fix a wall hole yourself. Here's how.

  • Easy bathroom caulking tips so you can do it yourself.  The result packs a big decorative punch that makes this fix more than worth the effort.

    Easy Bathroom Caulking Tips

    Easy bathroom caulking tips so you can do it yourself. The result packs a big decorative punch that makes this fix more than worth the effort.

  • Here are the homeowners expenses you should not skimp on. And tips on how to pay for it all.

    Homeowners Expenses Never to Skimp On

    Here are the homeowners expenses you should not skimp on. And tips on how to pay for it all.

  • Of course you want your home to be cool and comfortable during the dog days of summer. Save cold cash year-round with these home energy saving tips.

    Home Energy Saving Tips

    Of course you want your home to be cool and comfortable during the dog days of summer. Save cold cash year-round with these home energy saving tips.

  • Home maintenance tackled throughout the year is the easiest way to prevent small problems from becoming big expensive fixes. Here's how.

    Home Maintenance and Repair

    Home maintenance tackled throughout the year is the easiest way to prevent small problems from becoming big expensive fixes. Here's how.

  • Fixing a backed up sink yourself has two big advantages: You save time and money. These tips for clearing a sink clog can help.

    Fixing a Backed Up Sink

    Fixing a backed up sink yourself has two big advantages: You save time and money. These tips for clearing a sink clog can help.

  • How to prevent plumbing problems. You can prevent plumbing problems - a clogged drain, leaky faucets, and other common plumbing nightmares - with a little preventative maintenance.

    How To Prevent Plumbing Problems

    How to prevent plumbing problems. You can prevent plumbing problems - a clogged drain, leaky faucets, and other common plumbing nightmares - with a little preventative maintenance.

  • Fixing a backed up toilet yourself has two great advantages: You save time and you save money.

    Fixing a Backed Up Toilet

    Fixing a backed up toilet yourself has two great advantages: You save time and you save money.

  • How to lower your air conditioning bills. Just when you think it can't get any hotter, it does. You want to stay cool - and keep utility bills under control. These 10 air conditioning tips can help.

    Lower Your Air Conditioning Bills

    How to lower your air conditioning bills. Just when you think it can't get any hotter, it does. You want to stay cool - and keep utility bills under control. These 10 air conditioning tips can help.

  • Dealing with wasps: What you need to know about identifying a wasp infestation and getting rid of it safely.

    Dealing With Wasps

    Dealing with wasps: What you need to know about identifying a wasp infestation and getting rid of it safely.

  • Hiring a carpet cleaning service to do the dirty work on your flooring surfaces may be the safest, fastest and easiest option. These tips can help.

    Hiring a Carpet Cleaning Service

    Hiring a carpet cleaning service to do the dirty work on your flooring surfaces may be the safest, fastest and easiest option. These tips can help.

  • Building a home toolkit. You really can handle many minor repairs and home-improvement projects around your home all by yourself. A basic toolkit is all you'll need. Here's what to include

    Building a Home Toolkit

    Building a home toolkit. You really can handle many minor repairs and home-improvement projects around your home all by yourself. A basic toolkit is all you'll need. Here's what to include

  • Easy refrigerator maintenance tips. These refrigerator maintenance tips will help keep the appliance in peak operating condition - and the fridge repair people at bay.

    Easy Refrigerator Maintenance Tips

    Easy refrigerator maintenance tips. These refrigerator maintenance tips will help keep the appliance in peak operating condition - and the fridge repair people at bay.

  • An ant problem is a frustrating challenge, to say the least. You want the ant infestation gone - stat! Here are 3 effective, non-toxic pest control methods.

    Ant Problem? Less Toxic Solutions for Solving It

    An ant problem is a frustrating challenge, to say the least. You want the ant infestation gone - stat! Here are 3 effective, non-toxic pest control methods.

  • Yes, you do have to maintain your garbage disposal. If you want it to keep it grinding away daily, that is. These simple tips for maintaining your garbage disposal can help.

    Maintaining Your Garbage Disposal

    Yes, you do have to maintain your garbage disposal. If you want it to keep it grinding away daily, that is. These simple tips for maintaining your garbage disposal can help.

  • How to save energy. Of course you want your home to be warm in the winter, cool in the summer. And you can have both - without sky-high bills.  Here's how to save energy at home.

    How To Save Energy at Home

    How to save energy. Of course you want your home to be warm in the winter, cool in the summer. And you can have both - without sky-high bills. Here's how to save energy at home.

  • How to save on energy bills by making a few simple changes on your gas and electrial use daily around your home.

    Save on Energy Bills

    How to save on energy bills by making a few simple changes on your gas and electrial use daily around your home.

  • Energy-smart day-to-day living is easier than you might think. Save cold cash year-round with these home energy savings tips.

    Home Energy Savings Tips

    Energy-smart day-to-day living is easier than you might think. Save cold cash year-round with these home energy savings tips.

  • The air is crisp; the nights are cool. What better way to complete the cozy picture than a roaring fire in the hearth? These easy fireplace maintenance tips will help get it ready to glow.

    Easy Fireplace Maintenance Tips

    The air is crisp; the nights are cool. What better way to complete the cozy picture than a roaring fire in the hearth? These easy fireplace maintenance tips will help get it ready to glow.

  • Do it yourself home repairs have two big advantages: You save time and you save money. You can easily handle these quick fixes around your home .

    DIo It Yourself Home Repairs

    Do it yourself home repairs have two big advantages: You save time and you save money. You can easily handle these quick fixes around your home .

  • Home repairs you can do yourself offer two big advantages: You save time and you save money.

    Home Repairs You Can Do Yourself

    Home repairs you can do yourself offer two big advantages: You save time and you save money.

  • Preventative home maintenance checklist. A house may last for generations, but its parts and systems won't last a lifetime without regular attention. Tackling preventative maintenance tasks throughout the year will keep your home running smoothly.

    Preventative Home Maintenance Checklist

    Preventative home maintenance checklist. A house may last for generations, but its parts and systems won't last a lifetime without regular attention. Tackling preventative maintenance tasks throughout the year will keep your home running smoothly.



Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.