A Comprehensive Checklist For Preparing Your Home For Winter

September 21, 2022

Preparing your house for the winter is one of the things you should never skip. Even if you wish it were as simple as hanging Christmas lights, watching your favorite holiday movies, and decorating your Christmas tree, there’s much more you should consider winterizing your home.

Interior living room of a forest house 3D illustration

While the checklist for preparing your home for winter isn’t a fun list, it’s something that you should check twice despite how boring the tasks may be. If you’re unsure about where to start, here’s a comprehensive checklist to get your house ready for the cold season:

1. Winterize Your Heating System

During the winter, your heating system is an essential element you should prioritize. You must assess your heating system, diagnose issues, and fix them. But if you’re too busy with your work and are looking to hire heating services to do the job for you, it may be an excellent idea to hire experts, like Modern PHE or similar ones, to help prepare your home for the winter.

To make your heating system prepared for the season, here are the tasks you should do:

  • Clean And Inspect Heating Vents – Get rid of any obstacles near your heating vents so that the air can freely flow. If you don’t want to do the cleaning yourself, hire professionals to do the job for you.
  • Replace The Air Filter – Before using your winter heating system, clean or replace its air filter to ensure a cleaner environment and better airflow. For best results, follow your unit manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Test Run – Test run your heating system. Turn your thermostat to heat mode. If your system runs fine, turn your thermostat to its normal setting. But if it doesn't, you can diagnose it yourself by checking your system. But if you still can’t figure out the problem, call a professional.
  • Check Exhaust Vents – Make sure your system’s exhaust vents are free of obstructions and open. Any interference may block your unit’s ability to vent exhaust gases and burn them efficiently.

 

2. Protect Your Pipes

Unheated parts of your house, such as the basement, garage, and attic, are often at risk of frozen pipes. To avoid this issue, you can use insulation on any exposed pipe in your home’s vulnerable areas. Other ways to protect your pipes may include keeping your garage door tightly closed and never reducing your home’s temperature.

However, you can always hire professionals if you want to prepare your home’s plumbing for winter but don’t have time. Experts know how to protect your pipes from freezing throughout the season.

3. Weatherproof Your Windows And Doors

Doors and windows, when improperly sealed, may cause heat loss. While replacing your old windows with double-paned windows is never a bad idea, it might cost you more. If you’re on a tight budget, you can weatherproof your doors and windows by caulking.

If you caulk the outer window frames, you’ll be surprised at how well it keeps the cool air out and hot air in. Rope caulk is another option. It doesn’t require a caulking gun and can be quickly removed after winter. It’s also reusable and often available in most local hardware stores.

4. Clean Your Gutters

Another essential part of preparing your home for winter is cleaning your gutters. The general rule is to have your gutters cleaned as soon as autumn ends.

To avoid clogging, clean and inspect your gutters of debris and dirt. Clean gutters will let melting snow drain properly. Use a gutter guard if you don’t want to clean your gutters regularly. Typically, it’s made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or stainless steel, which removes debris from your gutters. While it needs to be brushed off to ensure it works to its maximum effectiveness, it won’t be as tiring as routine cleanings.

5. Keep Your Wooden Deck Protected

Before decking the halls, ensure that you take care of your wooden deck. Clean it and remove any debris or dirt.

If you haven’t applied a coat of sealer before the autumn season, it’s time to do it before winter. To protect your wood, place a big tarp down and be diligent when using a plastic shovel to remove the snow.

6. Get Your Roof Ready

Ice, rain, wind, and snow can make it hard for your house to withstand extreme winter weather conditions. For this reason, you should also ensure that your roof is ready for the season. You can winterize your roof with the following tips:

  • Check your roof for curled, missing, or broken shingles.
  • Inspect for signs of deterioration and damaged flashing.
  • Clear any debris or dirt particles on your roof.
  • Cut back overhanging branches to avoid damage to gutters and shingles.
  • Consider installing roof heat cables and snow guards to prevent ice dam formation.

You wouldn't want to freeze even when you're inside your house during winter. So, do these things so you and your family can enjoy a warm winter season.

7. Turn Off Your External Air Conditioning (AC) Unit

Turn off your external AC and remove any portable or window units. Then, before storing them, clean the air filters properly.

Shutting off your external AC units prevents power wastage from the heat generated by the unit. This heat may attract critters to use your unit as their home during the winter.

While you can cover your unit during the colder season, it may only be an added attraction for critters looking for shelter. If your AC unit is in a place susceptible to snowfall, you can cover it with a piece of plywood.

If you want to cover your unit, try using a specially-made cover to wrap your AC tightly to avoid damage and moisture build-up. Removing portable or window ACs may help insulate your house against drafts, reducing utility costs.

8. Check Your Snowblower

If you have a snowblower, it’s time to check. Before you test it, you might want to change its spark plug, motor oil, or air filter. Once you’re done with the basic maintenance, turn it on to ensure everything is running well. You must also lubricate its levers, chute, and linkages so everything works well once you use the snowblower for snow removal.

If you need to replace your snowblower, shop as early as possible to find great deals. When comparing options, don’t just focus on the price and make sure to check the features. It’s best to opt for a snowblower equipped with features such as easy-to-use controls and a headlight. A snowblower with a headlight may help you see the driveway edges, markers, and possible hazards.

9. Inspect Your Fireplace

A thorough inspection, both outside and inside your house, may ensure that your fireplace is in good condition and safe to use for the winter season. When checking your fireplace, be sure to keep these tips in mind:

  • Check if the roof flashing is tight against your chimney.
  • Ensure there’s no debris build-up or bird nests.
  • Inspect if no bricks and mortar are missing from the chimney.

If you spot damage, hire professionals to inspect your chimney and fix your fireplace. Generally, a professional inspection is affordable, and the cost may vary depending on your inspection needs.

10. Program Your Thermostat

If you have installed a programmable thermostat, it’s time to set your temperatures based on your preferred winter settings to enjoy savings on your monthly heating bills. It’s also the perfect season to check and change your thermostat’s batteries to avoid inconvenience.

Once you turn on your thermostat, you’re not only heating the air in your house. It also takes energy to heat any object in your home. If you’re going on a holiday in another country, you might want to lower your home’s temperature to cut costs.

11. Review Insulation

A major insulation upgrade isn't always something you should consider before winter. However, if your home requires more insulation, you might want to evaluate your current needs and hire a professional to get quality results.

If your budget is tight and you want to heat your home for less, you can also insulate your home in other ways and prepare for winter. Depending on your needs, here are the insulation tips you may consider:

  • Insulate exterior switch plates and outlets using affordable foam sealing gaskets.
  • Insulate your water heater using an insulating blanket.
  • Seal your unused fireplace. When not used, a fireplace may only leak air. To avoid that, use fiberglass insulation and stuff your fireplace with it to block the air from your chimney. If you decide to use your fireplace, remove it and any combustible debris.

 

12. Install A Carbon Monoxide And Smoke Detector

If you’re planning to use your fireplace, kerosene heater, or wood stove, consider installing a carbon monoxide and smoke detector. Test them monthly, and don’t forget to replace their batteries regularly.

During the winter, carbon monoxide poisoning is common. It is especially true if your heating system is on and homeowners with keyless ignition systems start vehicles in enclosed spaces. It may also happen if a fuel-burning device like a generator is used inside your home.

With that in mind, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must be installed on each floor of your house, particularly in sleeping areas. It must also be installed near your attached garage.

When shopping around for these detectors, always choose quality over price for the best results. If possible, select items from reliable brands in the market.

Wrapping Up

Once you're done with the above comprehensive checklist, you’ll worry less and stay warm throughout the winter season without any inconvenience. While you can do other tasks yourself, some things should be left to the professionals. So, know when to DIY and when to hire professionals to stay cozy and enjoy a winter-ready home.

 

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