Home Improvement Blog

How to Winterize Your Home

Winterizing your home

When temperatures start to dip, your home will naturally need some attention to ensure it’s ready to get through the season.

When you winterize your home you are protecting one of your biggest investments while making sure you stay comfortable. There are several ways to winterize your home and help protect against financial disasters and personal injury.

Here are a few items you want to make sure you don’t overlook:

Get the fireplace ready

Pre-cutting or purchasing firewood in the fall is a great way to not be scrambling outdoors in the winter if you love using your fireplace for heat.  If firewood is stored outside, it is best to stack it on an elevated platform under a covered area.  This will keep it dry and it will also help keep some of those outdoor critters from calling your wood pile home.  Also, keep in mind that your chimney should be cleaned annually.

Do you need a pro?

So if you don’t have the tools, it might be time to call a chimney sweep to remove the creosote and soot that has accumulated. You will also want to make sure that the screen or cap on the top of the chimney is in good condition, so it can continue to keep birds and rodents at bay.  Lastly, keep in mind that metal caps can get very damaged by the sun throughout the year, so make sure rust is not building up on its surface.  If you do have a rusty metal cap, sand and thoroughly clean the affected area.  Then, use a can of spray-paint primer to coat the entire cap.  Once that is dry a good high-heat spray paint that is designed for metal surfaces should be applied.  This can be purchased in a variety of colors.

Furnace inspection

Does your furnace feel like it’s in good working order?  Regardless of how it is functioning, your home’s furnace needs to be inspected annually to ensure that any possible preventative maintenance that should be done gets done. Your furnace likely didn’t get much use during the summer months, so a good time to carry out this inspection is fall.  This will give you plenty of time to make any needed repairs or adjustments to the unit well before winter hits.  If you missed this deadline, it’s not too late.  Inspect your furnace now.  This inspection is in addition to cleaning your ducts.  Clean ducts promote adequate flow of air and they ensure the heat from your furnace will be flowing as efficiently as possible.

Furnace inspections should be preformed by heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) experts as each unit is a little bit different.  These qualified tradesmen have the necessary training to understand what to look for during an inspection.  They can quickly detect any potential issues and they can troubleshoot any existing problems fast using their specialized equipment.  Plus, the tools used for duct cleaning are not something that every homeowner has sitting around in their garage, so this task is best left to the professionals.

For the homeowner, though, there are things you can be doing personally to make sure your furnace is in tip-top shape. It is smart to stock up on a few extra furnace filters if they are required for your unit.  Typically filters should be replaced on a monthly basis. Also, if you are still using an old-school thermostat, you can consider upgrading to one that is programmable. This will assist you in staying comfortable while significantly reducing your energy bills.

How to winterize your home

Check your home’s exterior

Windows and doors

Check the exterior side of your windows and doors for failed caulking.  If the paint on the window trim looks good, a clear, waterproof, exterior caulking can be applied and you won’t have to paint over it to match existing colors. The goal is to seal any possible entry point that wind and rain might find around your doors and windows.  If any window glass is cracked or broken, remember, replace the glass itself may be an option over replacing an entire window.  Make use of new weather-stripping on doors if your current weather stripping does not look up to snuff.  This will help keep that cold air away.

Additionally, you should inspect your exterior trim and siding. You need to look for cracks and caulk them.  Then, prime and paint any wood that is exposed.

Inspect downspouts and gutters

Make sure your gutters and downspouts are securely fastened to the surface of your home.  The downspouts should be designed divert water 8 – 10 feet away from your home.  They can accomplish this by using underground drains. If that isn’t an option, try down-spout extensions or a down-spout splash to get the job done. When was the last time you cleaned your gutters?  This should be done 2 – 6 times a year depending on how many trees are on your property.  I know that does not sound like fun, so I recommend looking into a gutter guard systems that will make sure you can stay off the roof.

Check the foundation

Inspect your foundation. Any chips or broken areas should be patch with a structural concrete based product.  Then, all cracks should be filled with a concrete/ masonry caulking.  Make sure that there are no accessible entry points to the crawl space.  This will prevent animals from tucking themselves away under your home during any cold winter days.

You should also look at the wood framing to concrete connection of your home underneath your house.  The lower most framing member which attaches to the concrete is called a sill plate.  Inspect the sill plate for any signs of insects and dry rot.

Weather-specific equipment

To make sure you’re ready for winter, you need to check your gear.  Inspect, tune-up, or service your snow blower to ensure it will be ready when you desperately need it. Replace worn-out snow shovels, rakes, and other essential tools if necessary.  It’s also a good idea to purchase bags of sand or de-icer now. Have you ever tried to find de-icer when it’s snowing?  It can be next to impossible. It is also nice to have a spray can of de-icer.  Get one that comes with the narrow applicator, so you can use it to thaw the cylinders in the door locks of your car or home.  We also recommend you have chains for your primary vehicle on hand, just in case.

Get Ready for Winter

Prepare an emergency kit

Safety first, right? Do you have a first aid kit in your home and in each one of your vehicles?  Are you really prepared for an emergency?

At the minimum, your emergency kit needs to have a good supply of nonperishable food and water, a portable cook top, and emergency blankets.  It’s also a good idea to have candles, matches, and a back up generator on hand.  Store your emergency kit in an easy-to-access, dry location.

Knowing when to ask for help

This is not an extensive list on how to winterize your home and how to prepare for the coming clod.  It’s just a starting point.  It’s time to start thinking about getting things ready for winter because it won’t be long before Seattle newscasters declare another snowmageddon.

Like most, you may need some help with taking care of all those exterior home repairs that need to be completed before winter really hits. Assistance is one click away with HTPB. We can easily help you batten the hatches or winterize your home.

If you are looking for reliable, affordable service from an honest team of craftsmen, let us know. You’ll love just how easy and convenient our Home-Call Services are.

Winterize - Ready for Winter

About the author

Ken Reusser

Ken Reusser

After taking the reins as part owner and project supervisor for HTP Builders in 2011, Ken began to use his extensive industry knowledge to meet the needs of each individual he works with. He is a certified journeyman carpenter with over 19 years of experience and holds a number of crucial industry certifications.

Ken Reusser’s philosophy is simple: Your project is as much about partnership as it is craftsmanship.