It is hard to believe that it’s that time of the year again, where you may have to worry about winter. Snow, sleet, ice dams, and frigid temperatures may take a toll on your property. You may need to take time and think about it.
It is not too early to start the preparations for the cold months. Heating costs can throw your winter budget off-balance. The cold may make the whole family all grumpy. However, taking early measures can limit the discomfort by addressing gaps and cracks that drive the energy bills up.
Some fixes are easy to do and at a lower price. Other renovations may demand professional help. Here are 12 easy tips for winter proofing your house.
1. Check for Leaks on Your Doors and Windows
You may begin your preparation by inspecting your exterior doors and windows for cold air leaks. Drafts of cold air sweeping into your home may put a strain on your heater. Your electricity bills may skyrocket as you waste more power to keep your rooms warm.
You can check for leaks from the inside of your house. Take a lit candle and move it around the door and window frames. If there is a draft wafting in, the flame will blow towards you. You may also opt to use a smoky incense where the air pushes the smoke towards you. A more sophisticated method would be to use a laser infrared thermal gun to detect the leaks on your garage doors.
Once you identify the cracks and holes, you can seal the doors using a weather-stripping tape inside the door frame. You may also install a door sweep at the lower edge. A caulk gun can also help seal any cracks within the frame. For bigger holes, an expanding foam sealant is preferable.
Single-paned windows may not be sufficient for winter proofing your house. You can opt to purchase storm windows that you can put up to protect against the harsh cold weather. You can bring them down during spring and store them till the next winter.
The acrylic latex caulk or expanding foal sealant may cut on the substantial loss of heat. You can reduce your energy costs by up to 30% by finding and sealing gaps that leak air outdoors. Using thick drapes and curtains may also help conserve the heat in your home. Also, do not forget to check if your siding is intact as the elements may have damaged it over the years.
2. Clean Your Gutters
You can free some time during fall to take the ladder and a bucket to clear your gutter. Leaves, twigs, and dirt on a gutter may trap water, leading to ice dams forming on your roof. Cleaning minimizes the risk of water freezing and cracking your gutters and downspouts.
If you have help, you can use a rope to pull the bucket up and lower it. If you are uncomfortable with the heights, you may prefer to use seamless gutter services to clean for you. The professionals may also plug any holes or cracks on the gutters.
It is also advisable to install gutter protectors on the roof that trap debris before it drops on your gutters. The mesh will allow water and some small particle-sized dirt to pass through. Avoid meshes with tiny holes as they may easily clog, trapping moisture on the roof.
3. Inspect Your Chimney and Furnace
A leak in your chimney can cause devastating damage to your property if not identified before the first snowfall. You may need to call in a roofing expert that ensures there are no gaps in your flashing. Winter proofing your house may also entail sealing your chimney, protecting it from water damage.
You may need to determine the source of heat throughout the winter months. Ensure that your wood stove is fully functional by scheduling an inspection. A well-maintained fireplace can ensure that you keep your energy costs down while keeping your family warm.
If the fireplace remains unused, it is advisable to seal the damper. Hot and cold air can escape the chimney, and shutting the flue may help keep the home’s heat. Ensure you use the right seal for the materials on your fireplace.
4. Watch Out for Your Lighting and Sockets
Winter days tend to be short, and you may have to spend more time in the dark. Outdoor lights can help create a well-lit path to your house. Ensure the lighting fixtures are firmly secure and use energy-saving bulbs. You may also prefer to use motion sensor lights or smart bulbs connected to apps and home assistant software.
Though it may sound impossible, most homes do let in cold air through the electrical outlets around the house. With dozens of them spread across the rooms, it may be easy to lose heat within the home. While winter proofing your house, you may need to use foam gaskets or rubber to reduce cold drafts from the outlets.
5. Winterize Your Patio Furniture
You may need to maintain your outdoor furniture in pristine condition throughout the wintery months. While manufacturers may suggest that they remain outside, you may need to take some precautions for harsher weather conditions.
The first step would be to clean the furniture. Remove any rust and corrosion from your metal pieces using a scrubber. Vacuum clean cushions and other fabrics and move them to a drier place in the garage. Try to move the lighter furniture away from the winter cold and store them in the garage. You can apply specialty oil or wax for extra protection to heavier pieces that you cannot drag into the house.
6. Check Your Roofing
Before the first snowfall, you may need to call in a professional roofing contractor to perform an inspection on your roofing. An expert roofer has a keen eye for detail and can identify potential issues with the roof. They can locate broken, backing, and cracked asphalt shingles that may cause water leaks in your home.
Organize for immediate roof repair for any issues that may arise. The roofing company may also help you insulate your attic, preventing heat loss from your home during winter. You may need to confirm whether your homeowner’s insurance may cover the renovations.
You may also need to look out for moss on your roofing shingles. Moss and algae can trap water, which may freeze and cause ice dams on your roof. The meltwater may drip through your roofing, causing damage to your ceilings, floorboards, and walls. Clean out the moss from the top as part of winter proofing your house.
You should also consider investing in a snow rake to push out as much snow as you can from your roof. Roof heating cables can also assist you in getting rid of the sleet falling on your roofing system. Too much weight may apply stress on the supporting beams, which may weaken your roof.
7. Prep Your Driveway and Walkways
Planning is a key element when winter proofing your house. You may need to restock your outdoor supplies necessary for clearing your paths. Invest in ergonomic snow shovels that can push using your legs instead of bending your back. The shovels also assist in removing the snow from the driveway much faster. You may also require shoe cleats that will increase your grip while working on the slippery surface.
You can also purchase a snowblower to clear your paths. If you own one, ensure that it is regularly serviced and is ready for use. Store the fuel for the snow blowers in safe containers and away from any heat source.
Some may prefer heated mats placed along the walkways to melt the snow cover. However, be wary as the warm rugs may attract neighboring wildlife to your home. It is also essential to stock up on sand and salt to melt the ice on the driveway.
8. Prepare for a Power Outage
Heavy snowfall has the potential to freeze power lines leading to a power outage in your neighborhood. You may need to figure out an alternative source of power when winter proofing your house as you would not wish to stay in a cold and dark home during a snow storm.
The best bet would be to invest in a winter generator. The generator may power up the house during the hours that the electricity may be out. A two-way radio may be useful in receiving news concerning the outage and the snowstorm. You may choose one that is powered by solar, batteries, or hand crank.
You may also need to replenish your food and water supplies. Ensure that you have enough warm clothing that can keep you warm during the power outage. It may be wise to have some candles, flashlights, and an emergency kit ready.
9. Look After Your Plumbing
Frozen pipes are a major concern for most homeowners. Pipe bursts associated with the frozen water pipes can quickly flood your home, damaging its foundation. You can call in a residential plumbing company to help you in winter proofing your house.
Pipes in unheated or poorly insulated regions in the house are at a higher risk of freezing and bursting. You may need to use pipe wraps, tapes, and foam to protect your plumbing in the attic, garage, basement, and cabinets.
You may also need to hire a plumbing service to help you look for hidden water leaks within your plumbing system. Frozen water will increase the damage on the pipes, which may flood your home. Installing a frost-free hose bib to the faucet outside your house may help you cut off the water supply.
10. Check Your Heating System
Heating and cooling costs remain the most expensive utility for American homes. Finding a way to minimize heat loss during winter may help keep the expenses down. You may need to call in the HVAC expert to inspect your heater or compressor before the snowflakes start falling.
You may need to replace the filters on your heater. Dirty filters reduce efficiency and shorten the life of the appliance. Check the filter every three months. If you prefer to use a furnace, ensure that it is in excellent condition.
Install a programmable thermostat in your home. The Environmental Protection Agency through the Energy Star estimates that you can save up to 20% of your energy cost by installing a new, programmable thermostat. It can allow you to set the temperature at a specific degree, which helps you enjoy fuel savings. A smart thermostat may also allow you to adjust your home’s temperature from anywhere on the globe.
It is important to turn off any heating in rooms that are not in use. It can help you keep the energy costs low.
11. Test Your Alarm Systems
Fall may be the right time to ensure that the smoke detectors, fire alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors function correctly. As part of winter proofing your house, remember to change all the batteries of the sensors and alarm systems. Test the smoke detectors according to local fire marshal recommendations. Double-check the expiration of your fire extinguisher.
Winter months pose a significant risk for carbon monoxide poisoning-from running vehicles in garages to heaters, cookers, and water heaters that use natural gas. You may need to ensure that the detectors are running efficiently.
Winter months are rather slow for most landscapers. Winter proofing your house may also involve protecting the lush lawns and gardens within your property. As fall progresses, you window of opportunity to look after your plants and shrubs shortens.
You can begin your front yard landscaping by overseeding the grass. Seeding enables you to fill the bare spots on the ground, creating a healthy lawn that can see through winter. You may also decide to prune your trees, giving them enough time to heal and recover before the biting cold kicks in.
For avid green thumbs with beautiful gardens, you can use warm farm blankets to cover the flower beds, preventing them from freezing. Mulching your perennials may keep them warm and healthy. You can take your potted plants into the house. You may also decide to use clear bins to cover the plants, keeping them warm without blocking the light.
After the challenging year you’ve had, the last thing you would wish to worry about is the heating bill this winter. Undertaking the 12 fixes listed may help keep your family comfortable and the energy costs on the low. Winter proofing your house can help protect your property from the ravaging damage of cold weather.