As the days grow colder and shorter, we spend more and more time cozied up in our homes to avoid the dreary winter weather. It’s more important than ever to ensure that your home is prepared to withstand the harsh freezing temperatures and snow that accompanies the season. Avoid spending your winter taking care of emergencies like burst pipes or leaky roofs with preventative measures using our winter maintenance checklist.
This list will walk you through some of the most important steps to winterizing your home. If you live in an area that experiences harsh winters, then take care to deal with each point to help keep your home safe this winter.
1. Prevent your pipes from freezing
Frozen pipes can easily burst – which is one of the most common house emergencies people experience in the winter. Exposure to cold air can freeze your pipes and make them burst, which can cause expensive water damage. To avoid frozen pipes, keep your thermostat set to at least 65 degrees and open your cabins with plumbing to allow warm air to flow and heat up the pipes. If you want extra protection, add insulation to your faucet and pipes.
2. Check your furnace
You’ll want to ensure your heating system is working smoothly, especially once the cold winter weather hits. Double check your furnace filter and change it if it looks dirty. Your filter should be replaced every three months. Check your vent system for leaks or blockages, and check for proper ignition
You can also get your furnace checked and cleaned by a professional to ensure it’s running properly. You should do this roughly once a year, preferably at the start of winter. This just helps ensure that your furnace is in working condition, and catches any issues early.
Don’t forget to do a monthly check on your boiler to spot any leakage and ensure the wiring, heat exchanger, and venting system is running smoothly.
3. Get your sprinkler system blown out
When the winter hits, most homeowners forget about their sprinkler system but – this can lead to expensive repairs you can easily avoid. Get your sprinkler system blown out to ensure all water is out of the lines. This will keep your pipes dry and prevent water from freezing inside the pipes, creating cracks and leaks.
4. Protect your entryway flooring
It’s important to protect your entryway flooring from any wet snow, ice, and road salt that gets tracked in from outside. Place a floor mat inside and outside of your entryways to keep them dry. You can also have a boot scraper outside to help remove excess ice and snow and place a waterproof tray inside your home for wet boots.
5. Clean out your gutters
Before the heavy snow or rainfalls arrive, clear out your gutters of any leaves or debris. Excess leaves and debris can build up during the winter, and if your gutters aren’t clear they won’t be able to direct water from rain or melted snow properly. This can result in flooding and damage the foundation and siding of your home. It can also lead to a build-up of ice in your gutters which can damage them or even leak back into your home.
6. Check the batteries in your smoke & carbon monoxide detectors
During the winter, we keep our doors and windows closed and use stoves and fireplaces more often to keep warm. It’s essential that you check the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Have a smoke and carbon monoxide detector in each bedroom and floor of the house, including the kitchen. This check should be done on a monthly basis to keep your home and family safe.
7. Clean out your chimney
To avoid your home filling up with smoke and dust from a chimney blockage, check your chimney regularly. Clean out your chimney and check for any soot build-up, bird’s nest, and any other debris in and at the top of your chimney. Getting a professional to handle this is often best.
8. Check your gas fireplace
If you have a gas fireplace, you should still get an annual inspection to make sure it’s working smoothly and safely. Gas fireplaces can get debris and creosote build-up that could potentially cause a house fire. It’s also worth getting a professional to inspect your gas fireplace to give you peace of mind and ensure that there are no gas leaks in your gas fireplace.
9. Fill gaps in your windows and doors
There’s nothing worse than cozying up on the couch on a chilly winter night, only to feel a cold breeze and draft running through your home. Gaps in your windows and doors can be letting out heat, leading to a pretty pricey energy bill. Apply caulk around your window trims to seal off any drafts. You can also install weatherstripping around the edges of your windows and doors to seal them tightly
10. Replenish your emergency supplies
You never know when a potential winter emergency will hit like a storm or power outage, so it’s best to be prepared and stock up on your emergency supplies. Dedicate a cabinet or area in your home for supplies like bottled water, non-perishable food items, flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, lighters, and a hand-crank radio.
11. Test your sump pump
Your sump pump is responsible for pushing out water from around and under your home away from the foundation of your house. You’ll want your sump pump to be working smoothly, especially during the winter. Hire a professional to inspect your sump pump, or perform a regular test yourself if you understand how the basic maintenance works. This will help prevent any damage to the foundation of your home, as well as any flooding.
12. Reverse your ceiling fans
Save on your energy and heating bills by flipping your ceiling fans’ reverse switches. The fans will move in a clockwise direction, which pushes warm air that rises toward the ceiling back down into the room. This will help keep your home warm while allowing you to lower the thermostat and potentially save on your energy bills.
13. Turn off all outside faucets
Along with your sprinklers, make sure to disconnect your garden hoses from the outdoor faucets. Turn the shutoff valves off and release any remaining water by opening and closing the tap. If you want additional protection, you can protect your outside faucets with an insulated cover.
14. Remove your window screens
By removing the screens from your windows, you can boost the natural light in your home and improve solar heat gain. You can also prevent snow from getting trapped in between the screen and window during heavy snowfall and storms, which can cause damage to your window sills and frames.
15. Store your outdoor furniture
Store your outdoor furniture indoors for the winter to keep it from getting damaged by the harsh winter elements. Clean your wicker, resin, wood, and plastic furniture before storing it. Metal furniture can be stored outdoors as long as you clean it to keep it protected all winter long.
16. Clear snow and ice from pathways
Don’t forget to shovel or snow blow your pathways regularly to keep them safe and clear throughout the winter. Use sand or pet-friendly salt to keep stairs and slippery areas safe and free from ice buildup.
17. Clear snow and ice from your roof and trees
When snow builds up on tree branches, they can snap and break and potentially land on your house, causing damage. Snow and ice build-up on your roof can create ice dams, which form when the edges of a home’s roof are colder than the upper regions. Ice forms around the eaves, snow melts above, and the melted snow backs up behind a dam of ice which can cause permanent damage to your roof. To prevent ice dams from forming, brush the snow off of your roof regularly. Use a telescoping roof rake or hire a roofing expert to remove large icicles and snow from your roof.
18. Check your basement
If you have a basement, there could be cracks that are letting in drafts and allowing heat to escape from your home. Check your basement for any cracks and gaps, and fill them with expanding foam. This will keep your home warm in the winter and saves you from paying expensive energy bills.
Getting your home ready for the winter can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With this winter maintenance checklist, you can rest assured knowing that your home is prepared for the harsh, winter weather ahead of time.