How to Winter-Proof Your Home for the Cold Season Ahead
Winter is coming. Whether you dread cold weather or eagerly await the first snow, we all take precautions to protect ourselves and our vehicles from the elements. But is your home ready to take on the season?
Lower temperatures and severe weather can cause your home damage that sticks around long after the season is gone. In fact, experts say that winter weather has caused $1 billion in insurance losses in a season, in recent years. So, now’s the time to get ahead of the cold front.
Heat things up
To begin, you’ll want to uncover any issues with your heating system before the first snowfall or big freeze. If it’s been a few years, schedule a technician to inspect your furnace (or heat pump) to make sure your system is running at peak safety and efficiency. Make sure the service includes vacuuming the vents and checking if your furnace has a filter that needs replacing. Similarly, if it’s been a few years and you tend to light a lot of fires in the winter, have the chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional.
Change the direction of your ceiling fan. Hot air rises. So switching your fan to rotate clockwise (instead of counter-clockwise) produces an updraft that pushes the heated air down from the ceiling and distributes it throughout the room.
Keep it cozy
Next up? Keeping the heat where you need it. Start by thoroughly surveying your property so you can address all the sneaky ways heat escapes in and around your home.
Check that the insulation in your attic is sufficient and in good condition. A properly insulated attic will help keep your home’s heat in the living quarters, where you need it.
Remove the A/C unit from your window to stop cold air from sneaking through cracks. If it’s a hassle to uninstall, use a heavy tarp to keep it covered.
Caulk around doors and windows and repair any cracked or broken windows and replace old windows. Inefficient windows are a major source of heating loss in the winter. The older the windows, the more likely they’ll let heat (and money) escape. Luckily, you’ve already found the best place to buy blinds online. Tilt allows you to automate your existing window treatments or custom-build brand new blinds and roller shades. Either option comes with simple instructions so you can DIY, or you can schedule a pro to install them for you.
Prep the Plumbing
Leaking or burst pipes are a huge concern in winter and can have devastating effects on a home. Pipe insulation can prevent copper or PVC pipes from freezing and it’s easy to install yourself as well as inexpensive. Heat tape can help keep extra-vulnerable pipes warm during extremely cold weather. You can use it on pipes that are along walls or in crawl spaces, attics and under sinks. Make sure you don’t skip the lower level of your home. The basement is often a hotspot for pipe troubles in freezing temps. It’s also a good idea to make sure everyone in your household knows how to turn off the water at the source, just in case.
You can't afford to neglect the plumbing outside of your home either. Clogged gutters can cause water to back up and then freeze once temperatures drop. You can DIY or hire a pro to clean those gutters to avoid water in the basement and damage to your roofing, siding or trim. You also want to keep your gutters free from ice dams, which can lead to an overflow once the ice melts. If you live in an area that deals with heavy rain or snow-melt in winter, consider installing drain spouts to help carry water away from your foundation.
And be sure to disconnect garden hoses and drain any remaining water in the faucets. Undrained water can freeze and as the ice expands and bursts, so can your pipes.
Most of these suggestions can be done over a weekend. Just a little well-placed time, effort and money can prevent winter weather from wreaking havoc on your house and yard.