Once the leaves fall on the ground in late October, everyone knows what happens next. It gets cold. Really cold. Depending on where you live, cold might be the full extent of the issue. Elsewhere, snow and ice pose a unique set of problems on their own, but for all homeowners, the inescapable bite of the freezing temperature must be avoided at all costs. Once the cold starts to seep into your home, you might find yourself doubting whether you’ll even make it through this winter.
Well, there’s a phrase for what you can do to dodge that numbing bullet: winterizing your home. If you can winterize your home—that is, get it ready for winter—then nothing is stopping you from keeping your house comfortable and toasty, even through the darkest months. All of these tips will bring you closer to the warm house you wished for last winter. There’s a lot of things that need to be up to standard to thrive in winter. Here is a list of things in your house to check and what to look out for when you do.
How to Get Your House Ready for Winter
It should come as no surprise that the place to start when getting your house ready for winter is no other than its most direct source of warmth. First, look at your thermostat. Set it to a high temperature, then listen for the furnace. If it works, that’s a good start. If not, your furnace might need inspection.
There are a lot of things to look out for when inspecting a furnace, so we recommend hiring a professional to do an annual check-up. When looking at it yourself, try some of these methods to see if your furnace is up to snuff. If it’s been a long time since you replaced your air filter, insulated your source of hot water or inspected your heating vents, take a look now. Just one of these things malfunctioning can be your ticket to inescapable cold.
In warmer seasons, condensing units get contaminated by dirt and debris that can manifest into huge problems in the winter. Make sure to wash it down with a high-pressure hose to get that pesky grime out of there.
Another pro tip: you don’t need to cover your condensing unit. In fact, you probably shouldn’t if you hope to dodge rust and rodent infestation. Instead, just cover the top with a piece of plywood and some bricks to guard it from falling icicles.
Some of the most infuriating parts of winter are the pesky drafts that flow in through gaps in your windows. If you have any cracks, now is the time to get those fixed because the stakes are about to get high. Even if there’s no clear path for cold air to enter, it can still seep through the edges. Caulking, applying weatherstrips or insulating film can help build a force field against those drafts. Make sure you give your doors the same treatment, because air is liable to sneak in any way it can.
In might seem counterintuitive, but ceiling fans can actually help keep your house warm in the winter! To do so, they need to be reversed. Reversing your ceiling fan (that is, setting them to run the opposite way) can push the heat down into your house instead of up like it normally does. All fans are different, but all it takes is a flip of the direction switch before you tap into a nice stream of welcome heat.
This is a big one. Gutters are crucial in keeping your home safe from water damage. In the winter, the water in the gutter can freeze-up, which becomes a huge issue if clutter gets caught up in there. Usually, gutter cleaning requires a professional. However, if you want to take it on yourself, make sure to take a look at the best practices list that comes with this time-consuming task.
Leaks can be a huge issue in the winter, so it’s crucial to make sure your roof isn’t susceptible to any unruly damage. Also, if you live in an area that’s vulnerable to winter storms, be sure to clear any tree branches that might fall on your roof and wreak havoc.
If you have a fireplace, nothing feels cozier than sparking it up in the winter for some nice natural heat. However, a dirty fireplace can lead to some serious smog infecting the air in your house, so make sure to get it cleaned before the winter comes. Worse than smog is the potential for a fire, which can become a problem if there are cracks in the mortar of your chimney. Keep an eye out for blemishes in the brick and get them fixed if you see them.
We all know what winter can do the unkempt grass. Before the snow starts to fall, make sure your lawn is clear of any debris. Similarly, if you’ve noticed some issues with puddles in the past, consider aerating your lawn before the winter opens the doors to some real water buildup.
Pipes are your means of getting water into your house, so check that they are properly insulated before the cold comes to freeze their insides. This is especially important in areas where the pipes are exposed, like basements and attics.
Certain appliances need special treatment in winter to ensure that the season doesn’t bring the death of them.
Refrigerators and freezers should be set at 36-38 and 0-5 degrees Fahrenheit respectively, for energy preservation purposes. Likewise, patio furniture should be covered so ice doesn’t rear its ugly head to damage them.
Keep an eye out for lawnmowers as well. The deck of your lawnmower should be cleared with a water hose and a towel to protect from rust. The fuel source must be stabilized so that it doesn’t freeze…check to see if you can use any surplus lawnmower fuel for your car.