When it comes to preparing your home for cold weather, the sooner, the better. After all, Jack Frost isn’t known to wait for an invitation.
From sealing drafty windows to buying a new snow shovel, the work you put in now could pay off when you need it most. Here’s a list of tips to help get your home safe, warm and winter ready:
1. Put plastic insulation film over windows
A cost-effective way to keep drafts out and keep heat in is to insulate your windows with plastic film. You can find it at most home stores, and it doesn’t require any specialty tools to install. If you live in extremely cold temperatures, try adding a layer of bubble wrap to the film for extra protection.
2. Install door sweeps
Do you feel a constant draft under an exterior door? Is the floor near the door cold, too? A door sweep can be a simple solution. A door sweep is a flexible piece of rubber or plastic that can be attached to the base of a door with adhesive or screws. You can also buy ones that slide under your door, but either way, you’ll have a barrier between the frigid winter air and your warm, cozy home.
3. Reverse ceiling fans
Most ceiling fans spin two ways — clockwise and counterclockwise. There’s a switch on the base of the fan, and once you turn your heat on, it’s important to make sure all of your fans are spinning clockwise. Blades spinning clockwise produce an updraft and push heated air down from the ceiling. This can make everyday living more comfortable, and if you adjust your thermostat, could lead to savings on your heating bill.
4. Replace worn weatherstripping
If you notice cold air seeping in around windows and doors, chances are your weatherstripping is worn and needs to be replaced. Weatherstripping is the material used to seal gaps around windows and entryways. When it becomes old or damaged, warm air can escape and cold winds can blow in. Use this guide by the U.S. Department of Energy to help choose and install the best weatherstripping for your home.
5. Service your furnace or boiler
Just like the engine in your car, furnaces and boilers require regular tune-ups to operate at peak performance. These inspections not only help prolong operating life but also identify potential gas and carbon monoxide leaks. Cleaning and inspecting your own furnace is something you can do yourself, but for safety reasons, it may be best to call a certified technician for a professional evaluation and service.
6. Protect your pipes
Frozen pipes, which often burst, can be a messy and costly problem. Here are simple steps to avoid this situation:
- Drain the water from your outdoor spigots and close the interior shut-off valve
- Apply heat tape or other pipe insulation methods to pipes that are near exterior walls or are prone to freezing
7. Inspect the roof
Annual roof inspections can help you find small issues to repair before they become big problems. This can be a dangerous task, so if you don’t feel comfortable performing the inspection yourself, you may want to hire a professional. Some roof inspectors offer a flat rate for standard inspections, but the rate can fluctuate due to the size, slope and type of roof. Three major areas to inspect include:
- Shingles — check for curling, buckling, tearing or missing shingles
- Gutters — make sure gutters are secure and free and clear of debris
- Flashing — confirm that flashing is not rusted, dented or damaged
8. Trim your trees
In stormy, windy or icy weather, a tree branch could cause serious structural damage. Trim back any branches hanging over your home and make sure there are no dead or dying trees nearby either. This can be a dangerous task, so if this will be your first time, read these tips on how to prune trees and cut branches beforehand.
9. Stock up on equipment
The first storm of the season could happen before you know it. To avoid being caught unprepared, make sure you have the essentials to weather a storm. If you use machinery such as a snow blower or generator, get the engines tuned and keep gallons of gas on hand.
Basic winter equipment to stock in your inventory should include:
- Snow shovel
- Ice pick
- Salt spreader
Let it snow
Winter can be a beautiful time of year, but it does require some work and preparation. Whether you live for snow or plan to “make it through” another cold season, these tips should get your home ready by the time Jack Frost comes knocking.
This article has been expanded from its original posting on October 25, 2016.