Is it just me, or is it getting a little cold outside?
Most people look forward to winter for a second, until they have to grapple with just how uncomfortable it can get. Sure, a sturdy coat, a scarf and some galoshes can help alleviate the pain, but they don’t solve all the problems. That being said, the best part of winter is retreating from the freezing hellscape into your comfy, warm home.
However, you can’t have that escape if you don’t put in the work.
Winter tends to come out of nowhere, but when it hits, you need to crank up those heaters and spark up that fireplace. Even if you can’t wait until the first snowflakes drop to the ground, there’s nothing fun about the inescapable bite of sub-zero temperatures – especially when you have nowhere to hide from them.
That’s right. Winter isn’t just a threat to your body. It messes with the chemistry of your home as well. Any homeowner is familiar with the headache that comes when the cold seeps into every room and you find yourself needing to bundle up wherever you go.
Cold can be a nightmare, but there’s something you can do to fight it: winterize your home. That means getting your home ready for winter. If you can master it, you might just make it out of this winter alive. You might even–dare I say–enjoy it?
Of course, winterization is no easy task. There’s a lot of things you need to take care of in order to fight the cold, but if you keep this checklist at hand, the task will become a lot easier.
Heaters and Other Temperature Controlling Units
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It’s probably no secret to you that there is a lot of equipment built into your home designed to make it warmer. Obviously, this is a great place to start when seeking warmth in the winter, but sadly, it’s rarely as simple as pressing a button.
When you don’t use your heating systems throughout the warmer seasons, they might get bent out of shape and fail to work properly when you need them. Either that, or you might not even remember if they worked properly. And that’s OK. There are plenty of measures you can take to ensure that heat will be there when you need it.
The first thing you need to do is test your thermostat before winter comes to ensure your heat is working properly. Simply switch it on and if you can hear the rumbling and feel the heat radiating from your furnace, chances are you are a-OK.
Either way, it never hurts to inspect your furnace in anticipation of winter to avoid any trouble later on. It’s a complex issue to tackle on your own, so it might be worth hiring a professional to make sure nothing will go wrong when it really matters. The same goes for your heating vents, another source of warmth that you do not want failing you in the winter.
Staying warm can be a matter of habit. If you leave the house for an extended period of time, turn the heat up to 50 degrees when you’re gone so you don’t return to a freezing purgatory.
It’s not just your furnace that needs care: your condensing unit demands attention too. Remember to clear dirt or debris from any condensing unit in your house before it freezes in the winter. Wash the unit down with a hose set to the highest pressure. Also, use a piece of plywood held down by a few bricks to protect the fan guard from falling icicles. Do not cover the whole unit, because doing so might cause rust and rodent infestation!
To keep the warm air as fresh as you can, buy a pack of air filters and install a new one every 90 days. Any hot water tank needs to be insulated, because nothing adds insult to injury like taking cold showers in the winter.
Here’s a nifty trick: set you ceiling fans to reverse. This pushes warm air down instead of up and can be a clutch way to warm up your house in the pits of winter.
Of course, you can’t forget about your fireplace. Ordering firewood in advance is a great way to cut costs on heating. Additionally, it’s wise to clean up your fireplace before you use it, looking out for any creosote or animal nests. When doing so, assess your chimney and fireplace for any cracks in the mortar and have them replaced because using your fireplace without replacing broken bricks can lead to a fire.
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The pain of winter doesn’t end inside your home. Winter can really take its toll on your home’s exterior, but if you take these precautions, your life will get a lot easier.
First, it’s crucial to remove any debris from your lawn before winter comes. When snow falls and the ground becomes icy, grime and leaves can really do a number on your lawn. Also, if you’ve noticed that your lawn struggles to soak up water when it rains, aerate your lawn to avoid an even bigger nightmare when it snows.
If your walls are made of brick, winter can spur a pesky wave of water damage. Repair any cracks in your wall’s bricks to prevent moisture from freezing into them come wintertime.
Similarly, make sure your exterior paint job can withstand harsh conditions. Some paints crumble and cause damage when exposed to harsh conditions, so make sure that won’t become an issue for you.
If you have a pool, make a chore out of draining the water before winter. I’m sure you can imagine what happens when a full pool freezes, and nobody wants to pay for that renovation. Be sure to cover your patio furniture with waterproof material, so that snow doesn’t have you running to replace them come spring.
Doors and Windows
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One of the most consistent sources of strife in the winter are the pesky drafts of cold air that enter through openings in the doors and windows.
Obviously, it’s a bit sadistic to leave your door open in the winter. However, closing it might not be enough. Be sure to cover openings in doors with weatherstrips to prevent drafts of cold air from entering your house. Seal the bottom of your door with a door sweep if you spot an easy entry point for air.
Same goes for you windows. Caulk or weatherstrip any cracks in your windows to keep cold air out and improve energy efficiency. This can also be done with insulating weather film. Open your blinds when it is sunny to let natural warmth into your home. If you need to, put up plastic sheeting on your windows with tape and blow dry it to seal your windows shut. It also doesn’t hurt to hire a professional window cleaner to optimize your windows for wintertime energy efficiency.
Roof and Gutters
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There’s a vast array of issues that stem from your roof that are best being nipped in the bud before winter. Most of them have to do with gutters–the nifty pipes outside of your house that get all the water off of your roof. If these cave in the winter, you could have a much bigger problem on your hands than sub-optimal temperature. And yes, I am talking about extreme water damage.
Do a deep clean of your gutters and downspouts to remove any leaves or debris. Before you go for the gutters, be sure to clear the roof to prevent dirt from reentering the gutter after you clean it. When cleaning, use a hose to wash your downspout of any debris it may have collected. Shake off debris into a waste yard receptacle when you’re done cleaning.
To prevent a pricey repair job, cut away tree branches that could fall on top of your house during a winter storm. Replace any damaged or missing shingles on your roof to prevent leaks and make sure your attic is insulated to prevent heat loss and freezing pipes.
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Whether they take care of important tasks or add decoration to your home, appliances need to be safeguarded from the dangers of winter too.
A good place to start is your pipes. Be sure to insulate pipes in areas of your house where they are exposed.
You’re not going to be using your lawnmower in the winter, so make sure it’s in a position to hibernate without breaking. Clean the deck of your lawnmower with a water hose and towel to prevent rust. You will also need to stabilize the fuel in your lawnmower. Move any leftover fuel from your lawnmower into your car to prevent it from freezing in the winter.
You know the old saying: when you put the lawn mower away, you bring the snow blower out! Inspect your snow blower before winter comes to avoid an emergency trip to the hardware store through 8 inches of snow that you can’t get rid of.
Here’s a few more miscellaneous tips. Don’t leave any plants outside in the winter unless you want them to die. Set your refrigerator to 36-38 and your freezer to 0-5 degrees Fahrenheit to save energy. Drain any water fountains and hoses to prevent them from freezing and close the valves in your home connected to hose bibs. Open any outdoor hose bibs and let them drain so winter doesn’t see the death of them.
Whether it’s staying warm or preventing damage, it’s up to you to be on top of your winterization efforts. Sure, the task can be hefty, but when you do it right, you’ll be thanking yourself for showing the initiative to alleviate the agony of winter.
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