5 steps to winterize your home 

Winterize your home now  - while you can still walk on your roofing without slipping on ice.

Make a winterizing your home list and check it twice: The few hours spent to survey your home and make minor home repairs could save a bundle on expensive and inconvenient emergency repairs.

Winterizing your home will also make it more comfortable and energy efficient, and could even reduce heating costs.

Here's how to winterize your house in preparation for the chilly days and nights ahead. Let's start at the top.

  1.  How to Winterize Your Home Roof

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, you can perform a roof inspection yourself with a broom and a few basic tools.

Don't wait until the first squall to make sure that roof gutters are clear of debris and that all roofing materials and flashing (those metal seams along the edges) are intact.  Winterize your home now.

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 make sure they drain freely.

Check the flashing around any chimneys, vents, skylights, or parapet walls. Look for gaps, cracks, and missing shingles. If you discover any problems with your roofing systems, or notice any rain leaking into the house, be sure to call and make a residential roof repair appointment now - before any problems become expensive repair emergencies.

  2.  Winterize Your Home Fireplace or 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. 

But whatever the age of your fireplace or stove, remember that the recommended chimney cleaning frequency is once a year to keep soot and creosote from building up and leading to a chimney fire. 

While you'll want to have expert chimney services handle the major maintenance, you can undertake minor maintenance yourself.  If you burn wood, clean the stove or firebox between fires. 

Scoop up cool 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.

  3. 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, it could also be dangerous: A faulty gas or oil furnace may emit deadly carbon monoxide gas.

Regular HVAC service is the best way to ensure trouble-free operation an peak performance of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems and to ensure thermal comfort and acceptable indoor air quality. 

Depending on the type of heating system you have, there are things you can do yourself to keep it running smoothly and safely.

For forced-air heating systems, clean or change the air filter once every heating season (more frequently if you have pets or your house tends to collect dust) and keep the surrounding area clean. 

Even well-maintained residential heating and cooling systems can emit toxic carbon monoxide (which is both odorless and colorless), making carbon monoxide detectors essential.Test detectors monthly, and replace the batteries once a year.

  4.  Check Your Home's Interior and Exterior for Signs of a Water Leak

Plan a preventative maintenance spot-check for signs of water seepage on your home's exterior and interior once each season:

  • Check for leaks from 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. You'll want to check seldom-used places such as the attic, basement, and farthest corners of your garage for any sign of a water leak.
At least twice a year as part of your preventative maintenance schedule, use a bleach solution to scrub clean any mildewed areas of your home's exterior.
  • At least twice a year, use a bleach solution to scrub clean any mildew or mold areas of your home's exterior. If unattended to, mildew will eat away your exterior paint, resulting in an expensive "fix-up" 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. Regularly scrub the walkway surface clean of any moss or algae. (Get more information on how to prevent home accidents here.)

  5.  Winterize Your Doors and Windows

In many homes during cold weather, warm indoor air escapes outside through numerous little 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.

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.

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. 

OK, so get out your winterization checklist and get started. As 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.

› How to Winterize Your Home