Winterize Your Home In 10 Steps 17

If you’re not quite ready to think about winter yet, we understand. But ready or not, the nights are getting cold, and it’s better to get ready too early than too late. There are quite a few ways to prepare your home for the chilly months ahead, and these ten winterizing steps will help you stay safe and warm when the real cold weather hits.

  1. Insulate those pipes. To guard against pipe freeze this winter, add insulation to any exposed pipes in unconditioned spaces like the basement, garage, attic or crawlspace. Options for insulation include foam-rubber pipe sleeves, fiberglass insulation and heat tape.
  2. Watch out for air leaks. Air leaks can cost a lot in terms of heat loss, and have the potential to drive up your winter heating bills big time. Some of the most common places to find air leaks include window and door frames, fixtures, wall outlets, vents and anywhere plumbing or wiring enters your home. To locate leaks, light a stick of incense on a breezy day and hold it near any area where you suspect a leak. The smoke should be drawn toward the draft. Once you locate leaks, they’re easy to seal with caulk or weather stripping.
  3. Get the furnace ready. Fall is a good time to schedule an annual maintenance check for your heating system. You can also do a basic cleaning yourself, and be sure to start the heating season by replacing the air filter.
  4. Investigate duct issues. If you have leaky air ducts, you could be losing half of the heating energy your furnace puts out. Ducts aren’t always easy to get to, but you should be able to see exposed ductwork in attics, basements and crawlspaces. Look for tears, holes, broken connections and dents. If you find duct issues — or if you suspect one but can’t access your ductwork — contact a certified HVAC technician for a duct inspection.
  5. Prepare your windows. Now is the time to put up storm windows, which provide an extra layer of warmth and insulation from winter cold. If you don’t have storm windows, you might want to think about upgrading to more efficient windows. If that isn’t in the budget right now, consider investing in a much cheaper window-sealing kit.
  6. Beef up insulation. It can be hard to tell if your home is insulated enough, because, for the most part, insulation is hidden within your walls. But you can check on the most important room in your house when it comes to insulation: your attic. Its location at the top of your house makes the attic the room that can potentially lose the most heat, so make sure it‘s well-insulated. Generally speaking, if you can see ceiling joists in the attic, you could benefit from additional insulation
  7. Get the chimney ready. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, check to make sure you don’t have excessive creosote buildup in the chimney. Chimney cleaning companies tend to be a little swamped in fall, so chimney maintenance is actually best taken care of in spring, but in case you didn’t get to it, be sure to have your chimney inspected and cleaned before you start the first fire of the season.
  8. Put ceiling fans in reverse. It sounds like an old wives’ tale, but reversing the direction of ceiling fans for winter actually does help your house stay warmer by pushing heated air down from the ceiling into your living space. You may even be able to set your thermostat a few degrees lower without noticing the difference.
  9. Clean out your gutters. This is a job best left until after the leaves have fallen, but don’t wait until the snow flies. Cleaning out your gutters will allow snowmelt and runoff to flow freely, reducing the likelihood of roof leaks and damaging ice dams.
  10. Check alarm batteries. Inspect your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work, and replace the batteries if necessary.
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