Winterizing a house means preparing the inside and outside of your home for use in cold weather. As temperatures continue to drop and frost visits your home each morning, it’s time to start thinking about winterization.
There are multiple parts to winterizing a home. The goal is to keep your house warm, safe and maximize efficiency during the coldest time of the year. Winterization does take some time, so make sure to start before the first snowfall with these tips!
Weatherproofing windows is necessary to insulate windows for winter and trap in warmth. There are different ways you can weatherproof your windows. Window plastic for winter is a popular option. Adding a plastic film layer over windows helps to keep the heat in and the cold out. It’s also easy to stick on and take off when needed. Additionally, window draft stoppers are an easy purchase and act as a hassle-free insulator for your home. They are also good to reuse for several winters. If you're looking for more efficient and effective ways to weatherproof, then weatherstripping your windows or installing storm windows could be better options
Storm windows are windows that are installed on the interior or exterior of a home's windows. You can either install these temporarily or permanently with materials varying from glass, rigid plastic, and flexible plastic. Storm windows offer more protection as opposed to single-pane windows and help with cost savings. Interior storm windows are easier for installation and can be ideal for apartments and two-story homes.
Sealing windows, or caulking, is another way to weatherproof your home. Start by checking for drafts around windows and doors. One way to check for air leaks is to seal your house by locking up all doors and windows. You should also close any dampers and vents. Next, open up exhaust fans that blow outside air. Using an incense stick, walk around your home to see where the smoke flickers near windows or doors. Wherever the smoke is blown into the house is where a draft is. Weatherstripping helps to cover these air leaks and ensure no cold air makes its way in.
Caulk around these window and door frame drafts on the inside and out to keep heat from escaping. In short, caulking usually requires these steps:
Weatherstripping also helps to cover air leaks and insulate your home. This helps trap heat inside and reduce drafts from sneaking into your home. Similar to caulking, weatherstripping starts with checking all your windows for leaks to find where cold air sneaks in.
Common weatherstrips for windows include:
Choosing the right weatherstripping depends on the condition of your windows, the types of windows, where it's being installed, if you want low-maintenance installation, and how much you’re looking to spend. If you already have weatherstripped frames, you should still check for drafts and replace weatherstripping if necessary.
Weatherproofing doors involves sealing doors and changing screens to storm doors. A storm door is a type of door that is installed in front of your home's exterior doors to protect it against poor weather conditions. Storm doors do a much better job of keeping the warm air in, plus they stop harsh winds and cold air from getting into your home. As a bonus, they also can enhance curb appeal to your home and act as an extra barrier against home intruders as well. The three basic types of storm doors include full-view storm doors, mid-view storm doors, and high-view storm doors.
To further weatherproof, winter door seals are a great option for stopping cold wind from getting into the bottom of the door. They’re relatively inexpensive and low maintenance to use. Similar to windows, you can also weatherstrip and caulk around exterior doors to ward off the cold.
Clean or replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum fuel efficiency of your HVAC system during the colder months. This also helps to reduce energy bills and extend the life of your furnace to reduce operating costs in the long-term. You can also clean off your air vent grates. Read more here on how often you should replace your air filter based on your household size.
Furnace cleaning is invaluable to the way your home breathes and performs. NADCA recommends you should clean your air ducts every 3-5 years. Depending on the situation of your home, that number can change. With up to 40 lbs of dust and dirt accumulating in your vents every year, duct cleaning helps to reduce allergens and improve indoor air quality. Learn more here on why air duct cleaning is so important and how it can help purify your home.
Check that your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order, if not, replace batteries. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, cooking is the leading cause of winter house fires so it’s important to make sure your smoke detectors are working properly. Smoke detectors typically last anywhere between 8-10 years, but you should replace batteries once or twice a year. It’s recommended to install smoke detectors in every bedroom, outside all sleeping areas, and on every level of your home. You should also install detectors in the living room as well as at the bottom ceiling that leads up to any stairways.
Cleaning your gutters of leaves and debris will allow water to run through to your troughs evenly. If your gutters are full, snow and ice melt can overflow, creating icicles and weighing your gutters down. If you have extra weight in your gutters there’s a possibility they could detach and need reinstallation.
For best practice when it comes to cleaning gutters:
Trimming the trees for the winter is an important precaution to take for you and your home’s safety. During harsh weather, snow and ice can weigh down weakened branches and cause them to break off. Depending on where these branches are, this could result in damage to your home or car. Be proactive and have dead branches or limbs removed.
Creating a winter survival kit is a smart safety measure to take for your home and car. Emergencies happen when you least suspect so being prepared will help alleviate potential stress.
Items to include in a winter survival kit for your house or car include:
Finally, winterizing your pipes protects them against the cold and helps stop them from bursting during below-freezing temperatures. To efficiently winterize the piping in your home, tightly insulate with foam. This is especially important to do where pipes are exposed to cold air like underneath your sink or near exterior walls. During frigid weather, remember to open cabinets to expose pipes to your home’s heat and to have water slightly running to prevent bursting pipes.