Tips to Winterize Your Home

Winter rolls around like clock work, and it always seems to get here all of the sudden. Get ready for it. Be proactive. You’ll be happy you did. Here’s a list of items that you should check:

  • Prevent freezing
    • Garden hoses- disconnect all your garden hoses from your exterior hose bibs (faucets)
    • Install frost-free exteriors faucets (optional) – these hose bibs will drain the extra water from the inside of the faucet and prevent most freezing
    • Install faucet insulation covers over your hose bibs
    • Exposed pipes – wrap them with pipe heating cable or wrap them with pipe insulation
  • Openings – Seal around windows, doors, receptacles and vents
    • Caulk around them if it is within the temperature of the caulk
    • Use expanding spray foam sealant around pipe protrusions, doors, dryer vents and other openings leading to the exterior of the home. Remember to use this sparingly. It expands and isn’t the nicest looking sealant afterwards. Use it in less visible areas, such as under the sink or in the basement, where pipes penetrate the walls. Use caulk, weather-stripping and gaskets otherwise.
    • Gaskets – you’d be surprised how much air comes through your receptacles. Install some foam insulating kits in each receptacle. All you need is a screwdriver and a few minutes each.
    • Weather-stripping – All kinds of weather stripping is available

      Weather Stripping

      at your favorite hardware store, for sealing around doors, windows, etc.

    • Plastic storm windows – this is a very inexpensive way to improve the efficiency of your existing windows. 3M has a neat shrink wrap kit for up to five windows.
    • Replace your windows with energy efficient ones (optional of course, but this home improvement can pay back 85% in resale, save on your energy bill right away, and make you a lot more comfortable).
  • Insulation
    • Add insulation to your attic – check your attic to see if it is adequate. Many times it has settled or wasn’t up to code to begin with. Call in an expert to have it done right.
    • Insulate under the floor – let the pros do this. Believe me this is worth it, especially in crawl spaces.
    • Foam insulation – (optional) foam insulation whether open celled or closed does wonders. You can spray your attic rafters and make it a livable area instantly. You can even insulate in existing home walls.
  • Fireplace
    • Damper – be sure the damper is closed when not in use.
    • Be sure the flue is clean. Call a chimney sweeper to clean it easily with no mess.
    • Inspect the brick in the firebox – there should be no loose or missing mortar. If there is, do not build a fire. Have it repaired by a professional.
  • Roof
    • Inspect with binoculars – look for loose shingles or missing flashing around protrusions such as chimneys. Call a roofing professional to do the repairs.
  • Gutters
    • Make sure they are fastened securely. Snow and heavy rains can really put a strain on your gutters
    • Clean the gutters – make sure that the gutters are cleaned once or twice during the fall. Inspect all downspouts and French drains and verify that they are clear of leaves and obstacles.
  • Decks, patios and driveways
    • Seal your wood decks, patios and driveways with the appropriate sealers. They take a beating during the winter months and this will help preserve them.
    • Put outdoor furniture in dry storage and cover your grill.
  • Furnace/Heater
    • Programmable thermostat – install one of these. They are inexpensive and can save you up to $150 per year
    • Have the furnace inspected by a heating and air contractor before the start of winter and summer
    • Change your furnace filters monthly
    • Be sure your oil or propane tank is full
    • Set your thermostat to a minimum heat setting of 55° if you are leaving the home for an extended amount of time
    • Inspect your fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure they are working and have plenty of the appropriate batteries on hand.
  • Water heater
    • Install an insulating blanket kit on our water heater. You can easily do this yourself and save some money on your gas or electric bills.

      Water Heater Wrapped in a Blanket

    • Low flow shower heads will reduce the amount of hot water used
    • Install a tankless water heater – (optional) These are fairly expensive to install but they can supply an endless supply of hot water, and only when needed. They are different in certain ways than a hot water tank, so do your homework.
  • Trees and landscaping
    • Prune limbs that are close to the house or could fall and damage property
    • Plant spring bulbs that can withstand the winter cold. Dig up the ones that can’t withstand the winter weather
  • Equipment
    • Snow blower – be sure it is working well. Put clean gas and oil it.
    • Get your snow shovels ready, or better yet, call your neighbor’s son and put him on call.
    • Buy some ice melt or salt to melt ice off the walkways
  • Prepare for emergencies
    • Check your flashlight and have extra batteries and bulbs on hand
    • Stock up on batteries for other devices
    • Have several gallons of bottled water in a designated place
    • Have some non-perishable food (and pet food if you have a pet) in a designated place.
    • Put some blankets and sheets and cots or blow-up beds in a designated area
    • Have a radio on hand – either battery powered or hand cranked

Hope this post helps you to keep your home in good shape for the winter.  If you have a bigger project in mind like a new fireplace or remodeling a bathroom with a toasty warm heated floor Summit Design Remodeling can help.

Laurie Crum
Design Consultant – Summit Design Remodeling
Summit Design Remodeling is a design/build home remodeling company serving Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland.  For information and our photo gallery go to:
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