How to winterize your house

Prevent expensive home repair bills and save on home heating costs
How to winterize your house

Preparing the home for winter or home weatherization is an annual home maintenance ritual that saves money and prevents expensive home repair bills.

Home heating costs can be reduced by proper insulation and the reduction of air leakage. Many states now have programs that offer rebates to encourage home winterization. Those on limited incomes can often have it performed for free.


Step 1

Check for adequate insulation

Perform a home inspection to see if your home contains the correct R-value insulation for your walls, attic, ceiling, floors, and crawl spaces for your climate zone. Insulate any exposed pipes by wrapping it with pipe insulation to prevent them from freezing and bursting. Add wall insulators to any electrical outlets on exterior walls.

Step 2

Prevent air drafts

Inspect the weatherstripping and caulking around doors and windows for worn or missing weatherstripping. Install door sweeps to the bottom of outside doors to prevent air leakage. Check areas where pipes go through exterior walls. Use expanding foam to fill any large gaps on exterior walls. Install storm windows or inexpensive window film to add additional window insulation. Use insulated window curtains to prevent heat loss.

Step 3

Inspect the home drainage system

Check the gutters and downspouts for blockage after the leaves have fallen and before it starts snowing. Blocked gutters can cause melting snow to flow into the walls of the home.

Step 4

Prepare the home interior

Change the batteries for the home’s smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Test the alarms to make sure they are working. Replace any detectors more than ten years old.

Have the chimney cleaned by a professional chimney sweep. Prevent heat loss by installing a glass fireplace enclosure. Install a wire screen in front of the glass fireplace enclosure to prevent children from burning themselves on it.

Step 5

Prepare the home exterior

Inspect the roof and have any missing or loose shingles replaced. It the roof has been replaced, inspect the vents for the furnace and gas appliances to make sure they were installed correctly. Check the heated walkway and driveway snowmelt system for proper functioning. Inspect the house exterior for chipped and cracked paint. Touch up or paint problem areas using the painting temperature guidelines.

Step 6

Prepare the home heating system

Inspect the furnace filter and change if it is dirty. Schedule an annual inspection for the furnace to check for proper functioning and cleaning. Make sure the carbon monoxide alarms on each floor of the house are functioning.

Step 7

Shut down the home cooling system

Prepare the home cooling system by clearing debris away from the outside condenser and spraying it off with the garden hose. Turn off the water supply to the evaporative cooler, then drain and clean the unit. Install the insulation plug and cover the cooler.

Step 8

Winterize the yard

Remove dead and diseased vegetation. Wrap any newly planted trees with wrap to prevent sunscald. Mow the lawn, rake up any leaves, and fertilize the grass to promote root growth. Clean yard tools and store them. Drain the gasoline in the lawn mower and weed trimmer or add fuel stabilizer.

Check for and replace broken or rotted fence posts. Drain any decorative ponds that do not have a heating system.

Step 9

Winterize the home irrigation system

Turn off the home irrigation system and have the system professionally blown out to prevent frozen pipes. Insulate any exposed irrigation pipes. Disconnect any garden hoses to allow water to drain from the hose bibs. Drain the water from the garden hoses.

Step 10

Stock up on winter storm supplies

Prepare for winter storms. Inspect your snow shovels and replace if necessary. Buy a bag of environmentally friendly snowmelt. Start up and tune the snowblower. Review safe operating procedures for the snowblower.

Things Needed
• time
• house
• weatherstripping
• window film
• insulation
• caulk
• snow shovel
• fuel stabilizer
• ice melt
• rake
• furnace inspection
• roofer
• carbon monoxide detector batteries

Tips & Warnings
• Winterize your home in the fall while the weather and temperatures are ideal for home repair.
• Have the furnace inspected by a professional.
• Cleaning the chimney will help prevent chimney fires.
• Exterior house painting should be performed at temperatures above 55 F.


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