Whether you are getting ready to escape winter by going on vacation or preparing for the winter months ahead at home, winterization is an important process that homeowners should not neglect for their property.
Why is it important to winterize your home?
Winterizing your home will help you maintain lower energy costs, as well as avoid damage caused by cold weather and snow.
Wondering when to start winterizing?
While the onset of the cold season will vary depending on your region, it’s a good rule of thumb to begin the process of winterizing your home in early fall. This will give you plenty of time to do it yourself, however, if you decide to hire your local pro make sure you book their services well in advance. By scheduling their service in advance, you safeguard their availability to help you BEFORE the weather turns. If you wait too long to book your local inspector’s services, there is a high probability your preferred provider will be booked up already.
Some Things You Need To Do It Yourself
(some may not apply)
- Telescoping gutter wand
- Door sweep
- Faucet covers
- Furnace filter
- Snowblower, shovels, and other snow removal tools, including de-icing agents
- Caulk gun (for sealing cracks)
- Window film
- Door sweeps
Winterizing your home means preparing it both inside and out for the cold weather. The following tasks don’t necessarily have to be completed in order, but they should all be completed by the time the cold weather arrives.
1. Clean the Gutters
They are the workhorses of your home’s exterior. They direct rainwater and snow away from your roof to prevent water from seeping in and causing damage. If your gutters aren’t cleared of dead leaves and debris, they can’t do this very important job. Whether you hire someone to do it for you or climb a ladder yourself, make sure your gutters are clear before the first snowfall.
2. Inspect the Roof and Attic
Now’s the time to make any repairs to your roof so the rain and snow won’t leak in. If you have an attic, take the time to go up and look around to see if you need to replace or add insulation to keep drafts out.
3. Check the Chimney
If you have a fireplace, you’ll want to make sure the chimney is clear of any buildup. A dirty chimney can be a fire hazard, so hire a chimney sweep to ensure it’s clear and you can build fires safely all winter long.
TIP: If you don’t actively use your fireplace, inflate a chimney balloon and plug up the space to keep out the cold.
4. Weatherproof Windows and Doors
Cold air can creep in through windows and doors, so be sure to check and replace any weatherstripping around them as needed. You can apply caulking to seal any gaps around windows—you can also do this for any cracks in the siding, too. Unless you have newer, energy-efficient windows, you can apply window film to keep out the cold. A door sweep installed on the bottom of your door is also a great way to minimize any drafts that may be getting through.
TIP: To find the source of a draft, you can hold a lit candle a couple of inches away from a window or door. Watch the flame as an indicator of where the drafts are coming from.
5. Protect the Pipes
Frozen pipes can burst during the winter and cause major problems for homeowners. The following are some things you can do to avoid this costly result of not protecting your pipes.
- Know the location of your main water shutoff so that you can access it quickly in an emergency.
- Drain the water from outdoor sprinkler systems and garden hoses.
- Disconnect garden hoses from faucets and store them in a garage or shed.
- Cover the faucets.
- Check and test any and all heat trace tape(s).
- Fix or replace any broken windows so that cold air can’t get into a room and freeze pipes, particularly in the basement.
- Walk the perimeter of your home and close off any other vents that you might have opened during the warmer weather.
TIP: If you’re going to be away from your home during the winter, be sure to keep your thermostat set to about 12-15 degrees Celsius. A programmable thermostat makes it easy to keep your house at the right temperature so that your pipes won’t freeze.
6. Service the HVAC system
Replace your furnace filter and schedule a service appointment so that your heating system is ready to go before you need it. This may mean scheduling a service call when you’ve got your AC pumping during the summer because service appointments can be hard to get during the height of the season.
TIP: If you live in a climate where there are four distinct seasons, have your HVAC serviced twice a year so that it runs well in both the cold weather and hot weather.
7. Prepare Your Patio and Deck
This is particularly important if you live in Canada where snow is predominant during the winter season. Cover patio furniture with weatherproof covers or, if possible, store it away in a garage or shed. If your deck is wooden, a fresh coat of sealant will protect it in wet weather.
TIP: Some patio furniture can be left out in the cold weather without being damaged. It all depends on the material used in making it. Teak furniture, for example, can stand up to winter, though furniture made from other types of wood cannot. When in doubt, cover or store your outdoor furniture.
8. Ensure Snow Removal Tools Are Accessible
It’s great to have a gassed-up snowblower ready and waiting in your shed, but when a snowstorm dumps a foot of snow on your doorstep, and you don’t have a shovel nearby, you can’t get to it. Before winter strikes, we suggest having all of your snow removal tools handy. Including shovels and de-icing agents like salt and sand, ensure they are out of storage and easily accessible before the snow starts to fall. This might be a small task on your winterizing list, but it’s an important one.
9. Check your crawlspace
Winter or not, a crawl space inspection is a good idea for any homeowner. It tells you whether your home is safe. It can also reveal potential health risks that you didn’t know about. If you’re buying or selling a home, a crawl space inspection can show signs of leaks, or foundation issues, two things that would greatly affect the value of a property.
Know When To Call A Pro
Winterizing a home can be a DIY project, but like with many home-improvement projects, a professional like a general contractor or home inspector can help you do it more quickly and easily. If you decide to prepare your home for winter on your own, allow yourself plenty of time before the cold weather arrives. If you discover any issues that could pose a hazard, make sure you call in a pro right away. They’ll help ensure you and your property are safe for the season ahead.