11 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter

11 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Here are 11 ways to prepare your home for winter ahead of the first snowfall or temperature plunge. They could save you money and keep your home and family warm and safe from the harsh winter elements.

1) Seal windows and doors

Come winter, a little caulk can go a long way to seal in the heat. Go around your home and inspect window and door frames. If there are any cracks or gaps, seal them with caulk and apply a fresh coat of paint. Not only does this lock in the heat, it helps keep the wood from rotting (saving you a headache in the future).

There are also window insulation kits you can buy for the inside of your home. These kits usually contain plastic film (like a heavy-duty, contractor-grade saran wrap) that you apply to your windows to keep out drafts and stop heat loss in its tracks.

2) Clean your gutters

You should keep your gutters clean all year round, but heading into winter might be the most important time of all to make sure your gutters are free and clear. If your gutters are full of leaves and debris it could cause them to back up.

If the water can’t drain properly, it could overflow and lead to damage on the exterior of your home.

If your gutters are full and then covered in heavy snow, the weight could cause them to snap off your home. The same is true if water backs up and then freezes.

This could also cause an ice dam to form, which could cause water to leak inside of your home since it’s unable to escape through the gutters.

3) Get your roof inspected

Give your roof a good looking over before winter hits and it’s put to the test. Look for loose, damaged, or missing shingles that could become a big problem under the burden of winter ice and snow.

If you’re a first-time homebuyer in a snowy climate, a metal roof is one of your best options for holding up against harsh winters and shedding ice and snow.

4)Tune up your home’s heating system

Before the temps begin to dip, make sure your home’s heating system is in good repair and ready to keep you warm through the winter. It’s a good idea to do this ahead of time because otherwise you run the risk of being the zillionth customer in line, or worse, not having heat when you need it.

This is a good time to change your HVAC filters as well. Ideally, this should be done at least seasonally, but specific filters will have specific recommendations. Good maintenance – even something as simple as changing your filters – can extend the life of your heating system. It also makes sure the air you breathe is clean.

If your primary source of heat is a woodstove, see the next item on our list.

5) Do a chimney check up and stock up on wood

Before you get cozy with your first fire of the season, make sure your chimney is in ship shape, clean, and safe.

A broken flue could lead to smoke and carbon monoxide build up in your home, and a dirty chimney could cause a chimney fire.

Having your chimney inspected and cleaned ahead of burning season could protect your family and your home from a housefire. As a final word about safety: if you have a woodstove or fireplace, you should have a fire extinguisher.

6) Perform a battery test on your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

It probably comes as no surprise that wintertime is when most housefires happen. It’s also the season when most cases of carbon monoxide poisoning occur.

Before winter sets in, make sure the batteries are working in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

7) Ensure proper attic insulation

Heat rises, so if your home has an attic, make sure it’s properly insulated, or heat will escape (and you’ll end up with a chillier home and a more expensive electric bill for the privilege). Not only will proper insulation keep you warmer in the winter, it will keep you cooler in the summer.

While you’re up there, take a look around to make sure your attic hasn’t become a free hotel for birds and squirrels and other critters that want to escape the cold.

8) Reverse your ceiling fans

Here’s another way to winterize your home that falls in the heat rises category: Reverse the spin of your ceiling fans, and instead of providing you with a cool breeze, they’ll blow warm air down from the ceiling.

Winter mode for ceiling fans is clockwise on low speed.

Most ceiling fans are equipped with a simple switch that allows you to reverse the motor. It seems minor, but the warm air pushed down from the ceiling can make a big difference to how cozy your house feels – and can put a big dent in your heating bill.

9) Rearrange furniture if it’s blocking heating vents

If you can help it, another small way to maximize your home’s warmth is to make sure none of your heating vents are blocked by furniture. If they are, it’s a good time to rearrange the room and move furniture so the heat can travel freely.

It’s also smart not to sleep with your head directly under a vent as this can dry you out

10) Cut back tree branches

While a schooled horticulturalist will tell you winter is no time to trim a tree – if branches are near your home or fence (or your neighbor’s), you should absolutely cut them back. Even healthy branches can break and fall under the weight of snow and ice. Add some wind and you’re at an extra risk of property damage.

Make sure no tree branches hang over your home – if they do, they have to go.

11) Drain and turn off exterior faucets

Be sure to drain and shut off your exterior faucets. Any undrained water sitting in pipes that lead to your hose or outdoor spigots will freeze and expand in the winter – a simple recipe for burst pipes. Take the time to drain the lines before the temperature drops.

A few around the house extras…

If you’ve done the above, your house should be prepared to weather the winter. Here are a few bonus tips to take care of your lawn and yard equipment ahead of winter.

If you have dead leaves around your yard in late fall, instead of raking and bagging them up – go over them with the lawn mower. Mowing them into debris scattered among the grass will essentially turn them into mulch, and they’ll nourish your lawn as they decompose out of sight for the winter.

(Some mowers even have a special mulching blade).

Once you’re done, it’s a good idea to drain the gas from your mower (and other gas-powered yard tools like weed whackers). Fuel sitting unused in yard tools will decompose and gunk up the carburetor, wearing down their longevity and making them harder to start come spring.

Have a safe and cozy winter

Finally, before the first snow falls, double check that your shovels, snow blower, ice scrapers, and other winter essentials are in good working order and ready to go. Stock up on rock salt, ready your vehicles, and have a safe and cozy winter with your loved ones.

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Excellent advice! THANKS!

Mickey Varnado

Nice comprehensive list, BUT, ceiling fans in MOST cases push cool air down in warm seasons, but when reversed for winter, they actually pull the air UP in the center of the room, then send the warmer air out and to the perimeter where it doesn’t directly blow on the people, and works it’s way down to warm the room. Just take a close look at the blades when the fan is moving s-l-o-w-l-y, and see what I mean. They scoop into the air and move the air in one direction or the other.
Hope this helps, thanks for offering the help!

Shaun Williams

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