Do you live in an area that experiences bad winters and require help to winterize your home ready to protect it but to also keep your home warm and toasty during a cold spell?
For new homeowners, winterizing your house can be even more daunting as every experience is new to them…
Whilst most homes have running water but all too often their pipework can be laid out in confusing ways.
Below I’ll try my best to explain how to shut off the water and stop burst pipes and retain the warmth in your home by winterizing lots of rooms and the outside of your home too.
I’m convinced all the guides will help you get through winter on the cheap and still smiling come spring…
How-to Guide to Prepare Your Home Ready for Winter
Winter is an unforgiving season in many parts of the country, with severe cold freezing rain, sleet and, of course, snow. Lots and lots of snow. All of this cold weather can make life a bit difficult even for the hardiest of people.
That’s why, before winter drops a cold bomb on you and your family, you need to know how to winterize your house.
In this article, we’ll look at all of the different ways that you can prepare your home for the winter so you and your family stay cozy and warm the entire time. From preparing your roof to handle snow and ice to winterizing your windows, bedrooms and even the basement, this article has it all.
So grab a coffee, take plenty of mental notes and let us show you How to Winterize Your House.
- Start with the Roof
Your roof is the most important layer of protection that you have from snow, sweet and ice. That includes the gutters and downspouts too because, when all that snow and ice start to melt, they will make sure it drains far away from your foundation.
Below are a few things you should check, stabilize and support if necessary.
- Check to make sure the framework is strong enough to support a lot of heavy snow
- Check the flashing for leaks
- Remove any rubbish from the valleys in your roof
- Check to make sure the shingles are in good shape with no bare spots
- Clean your gutters and downspouts of all debris
- Replace the sealant around everything that has it.
- Purchase extensions to make sure the water flows far from your home’s foundation
- Make sure the Attic has plenty of Insulation (and is insulated correctly)
Your home can lose an awful lot of heat through the attic, especially if the insulation is too thin or there isn’t any at all. Ideally, the space between the ceiling (inside your house) and the attic should be well insulated, with thick insulation between the joists.
However, the space between the attic and the roof should have no insulation. The attic should also be well ventilated with soffit and ridge vents to increase air circulation.
Preparing your attic this way will prevent ice dams that could gravely damage your home during severe cold.
- Make sure your Basement is prepared
All of the windows and doors that lead into your basement should be checked to make sure their seals are tight and pliable. Also, make sure the mudsill (where the foundation meets the wooden framing) is sealed.
If you plan to use your basement during the winter, it should be well insulated, with a vapor barrier to protect against any leaks. A dehumidifier will keep it dry and, even better, warm it up during the cold winter months.
By the way, did you know that the basement account’s for 20% of the heat loss in the average home? It does, so insulating it well is a great way to save money and stay warmer.
- Check and Insulate your Water Heater
An essential part of any home, your water heater should have what’s known as a ‘water heater jacket’ to protect it from winter’s cold. This also keeps the hot water inside hotter (like a thermos) so you should consider keeping the water heater jacket on year-round.
Another good suggestion is to insulate the first 3 feet of piping going into and coming out of your water heater to prevent the water inside them from turning to ice.
- Check your HVAC Unit
While it might not be a bad idea to have your HVAC checked by a professional before winter, there are 2 things you can and should do yourself. They include;
Changing the air filter (or at least cleaning it)Checking the dehumidifier to make sure the wick isn’t clogged. If it is, soak it in vinegar or, if it’s really clogged, purchase a new one
- Check your home’s Siding for leaks and holes
After the roof, your home’s siding is the next, best line of defense against the cold, snow and ice of winter. Be sure to perform a thorough check of your home’s entire exterior to spot leaks and cracks in the siding.
If you find them, seal them or repair them using the right products based on the type of siding you have.
- Preparing your Kitchen for winter
Even though they are inside the house, the pipes under your kitchen sink can freeze and crack during winter, especially if the wall next to where the pipes are located on an exterior wall.
It might be a good idea to insulate the pipes and, when it really gets cold outside, keep the door to the under-sink cabinet slightly open.
- Preparing your Bathroom(s) for winter
Just like the pipes under the kitchen sink, the pipes under the sink in your bathroom, as well as those that connect to the bathtub, can freeze if it gets really cold.
Consider insulating them, especially if they are on an exterior wall. Another thing you can do is install an in-floor heating system, although this is a considerable investment.
- Check the Seals on all the Windows and Doors
One of the locations where cold can come into your home (and heat can escape) are the seals around all of your windows and doors. You should check all of them to make sure that they are pliable and that there aren’t any big gaps.
If there are gaps you should definitely consider purchasing new seals for any of the windows or doors that need them.
- Install Double-Pane Glass Windows
One of the worst things that you can have in your home during a long, cold winter are windows that are only single-pane glass. Single-pane glass windows have practically no insulating value whatsoever and will let heat escape from your home like an open barn door.
Yes, installing new, double pane glass windows will be quite an investment. In the long run, however, they will significantly lower your energy bills while, at the same time, significantly increasing the value of your home.
- Purchase Heavier Curtains for all your windows
If you have single-pane glass windows or even double pane, you should still consider purchasing heavier curtains for all of them.
At night, when closed, heavy-duty curtains will keep a lot more heat inside and block the cold from entering your house.
- Check and Clean your Fireplace, Chimney and/or Wood Stove
If you rely on your fireplace or wood stove to warm your home during the winter, you should have it checked and cleaned to make sure it is free of soot and, more importantly, dangerous creosote that can cause a fire.
You should also check the damper to see that it is working correctly and make sure no birds or rodents have made a nest in the chimney.
- Preparing your Deck or Patio
You might not use your deck very often during the winter but, when spring and summer come back around, you will want it to be ready to use right away. For that, you should definitely remove any leaves, debris, and dirt.
If you leave them on, the moisture from snow and rain during the winter can cause the wood underneath to rot.
Also, never put salt on a wooden deck, even if there’s ice. Salt will dry out the wood and can cause it to deteriorate much faster. If you have a patio with pavers stones, concrete or some other material that is not wood, you can use salt there if needed.
- Store Outdoor Furniture, Tools and Toys
Outdoor furniture, tools and toys, especially those made of plastic, really take a beating from harsh winter weather. Your best bet is to store them inside the garage, basement or shed.
That goes for things like;
- Furniture (especially plastic)
- Large toys and games
- large umbrellas
- gardening tools
- water hoses
- Preparing your Garage for winter
Just like your basement, your home can lose a lot of heat through the garage, especially during severely cold weather. Consider insulating your garage even if you don’t put up sheetrock.
That goes especially for insulating the rafters under the floor if there is living space above the garage.
- Insulate any uninsulated Ductwork
If you have an older home it’s possible that your ductwork will be uninsulated. If this is the case, insulating your ductwork is a necessity so that the heat from your HVAC isn’t lost as it travels to where it’s needed inside. (That goes the same but in reverse for summer.)
- Switch your Ceiling fans to Reverse
Hot air rises so you should reverse the rotation of your ceiling fans in order to push the heated air down into all the rooms of your home as well as circulate it better.
In rooms with very high ceilings, this is even more important and can actually save you between 1 to 2% on your energy bill.
- Preparing in General for Winter
If you live in an area of the country where snow, ice, and sleet are the norms, there are a few things you should purchase before winter to make sure you are ready.
- Snow shovels
- Rock salt
- A gas-powered Space heater (but please use it carefully)
- A Backup Generator
- Candles or rechargeable flashlights (in case of a blackout)
- A First Aid Kit
- Extra Blankets
- Canned food and non-perishable foods (just in case)
- Matches or lighters
And there you have it. Do you do all these things and your home will be completely prepared for the winter months and the cold, snow, sleet and ice that come with them. A good suggestion would be to start 2 to 4 weeks before the cold weather usually arrives in your part of the country. Best of luck and have a good winter!
Prep your roof ready for fall and winter
Is your roof ready for everything that winter brings including heavy rain, large amounts of snowfall and are your gutters and downspouts clear?
Leaks in your roof if left alone can potentially cost you hundreds of dollars if left unrepaired.
There are many local contractors that are able to correct any roof problems and even offer preventative advice to help you avoid leaks.
This task can be done at any time of the year. If you experience hot dry summers then you’re not going to notice until fall arrives and by that time it could be too late.
How to check your roof for leaks?
First, it’s a good idea to get a set of ladders and inspect the roof section or you could take a step back away from your home at a distance, and have a good look for any tiles that appear loose or any damage by wildlife.
It’s also a great time to remove tree debris from the roof. Doing this in summer weather is much easier than when fall arrives when its cold, icy and windy.
Clear out the valley where the roofs come together and whilst you’re up there clean out the gutters if there are leaves and tree debris in there.
You can use a garden hose to check how easy the water runs off the roof and see how freely the downspouts are clearing and have someone listen indoors to see if they can hear any dripping inside the house.
Look out for damp patches on the ceiling or walls which is a telltale sign of a leaking roof or blocked downspout.
What if I don’t fix my roof?
A faulty roof will mean you will have to fix ceiling tiles, fix the water coming into your home, you’ll have wet rot, dry rot and a huge bill at the end.
At the end of the day, you know your house better than anyone, if there’s something on your roof that shouldn’t be there or you can hear a noise then now’s the time to do something about it.
Spend a few dollars now rather than hundreds of dollars in wintertime when money is tight.