How to winterize a house is a matter of taking care of simple things before the season arrive. Winterization doesn’t have to cost a ton of money or be difficult.
In fact, our checklist will help you get the entire winterization process done without forgetting anything.
Winterize Your Home on the Outside
Clean out the gutters to help any melt flow right off the roof and not build up to create potential ice dams, which can cause major damage.
Clean out window wells: Clean out any debris and trash out of your window wells. Any water that can’t drain will potentially do a lot of damage.
Deal with ice dams before they happen: If there is a known area of your roof that collects ice, nip that in the bud. Either install heat tape or try the free option. Fill a nylon stocking with ice melt and lay it along the problem area. This will melt the ice and keep the ice melt where you need it. You’ll just have to keep an eye on it throughout the winter to refill when necessary.
Caulk around windows and doors or use expanding foam for large gaps. This helps seal up drafts and will keep your house warmer. Use weatherstripping tape on the interior to also block drafts.
Install storm windows: If you have an older home, install storm windows to really help with any drafts. Windows, especially old windows, lose a lot of heat.
Prep your yard tools: Either use up all the fuel in your outdoor power tools (mower, trimmer, etc,) or add a fuel stabilizer. Make sure they’re clean and store them for the winter.
Prep garden tools: Clean, sharpen, and oil your gardening tools. Your shovels, hoes, rakes, and hand trimmers will all benefit and last for years to come with some care.
Clean and store yard furniture: Now is a great time to clean up all your yard furniture. Putting it away for the winter is the best way to save your furniture from rot and deterioration. Remember, snow melts a lot and it’s heavy!
Pick up toys: Kids and dogs alike tend to leave a lot of toys laying around the yard. Pick them up now or you may not see them until next spring! Got a trampoline? Tip it up or at least over. Heavy snow will stretch out those springs fast.
Cover the Air Conditioning Unit: Clean up any debris around the AC unit and cover it. Covering your unit helps prevent snow and ice or debris entering your unit and possibly causing issues.
Put the hose away: Drain and hang your garden hoses or you’ll be buying new ones in the spring. Winterize your sprinkler system if you have a built in one.
Insulate spigots: Exterior spigots need to be drained and insulated to prevent busted pipes.
Check exterior lights: Clean and test your exterior lights. Motion detectors should be cleaned of dust to ensure they come on when you need them too. Replace any bulbs that are out too.
Prep for snow removal: Clean and spray your snow shovel with cooking spray. This will help the snow slide right off when you need it to. Got a snow blower? Make sure it’s working right and will be ready to go when you need it.
Stock up on ice melt: Make sure you have ice melt or sand at the ready. You don’t want to have to fight the ice to go get sand when you need it. (Extra tip! Ashes from your wood stove or fireplace is GREAT on ice! No more slipping!)
Trim the trees: If you have trees near your home, be sure to trim off any dead branches now. Heavy snow and ice can crack branches and drop them on or possibly through your roof.
Winterize the garden: Dig up any bulbs that need to be winterized inside and bring in any tender plants you want to bring over to next year.
Wash the windows: If you won’t be installing storm windows or insulating film, you want all the sunshine coming through them that you can get. Take advantage of that solar heat!
For the birds: Clean out bird houses so they’ll be move in ready next spring. Now is also a great time to clean/ hang up feeders to help your feathered friends all winter.
Winterize Your Home on the Inside
Spin the fan down: Got a ceiling fan? Make sure it’s set to spin clockwise to help push hot air back down.
Install window film: Install window film over windows with a view that isn’t too important to you. This is a cheap way to add a ton of insulation. Older windows lose a LOT of heat.
Insulate the attic: Check your attic area and make sure you’ve got at least 12″ of insulation. Otherwise you’re just working to heat a non living space.
Hang thick curtains: Switch to or add blackout curtains. Again, this is just another way to fight drafts and keep the warmth in. Be sure to open your curtains during the day though to let the sun stream in and help warm your home naturally.
Install socket sealers: Light switches and electrical plugs on exterior walls can lose a lot of heat. Socket sealers are a cheap and easy way to add some insulation and help prevent drafts.
Check the HVAC: Replace the furnace filter to make sure you’re breathing fresh air and not putting a strain on your system. Take it a step further and have an annual inspection done on the system so you won’t have any mid-winter freezing surprises.
Get a new thermostat: Install a new programmable thermostat. Set the temperature lower during the day and at night to help with your heating bill.
Remove AC window unit: Obviously you won’t been needing your window unit for this season, so pull your unit out to prevent drafts.
Drain hot water heater: Doing this once a year will help remove any sediment buildup, which will in turn help your water heater run much more efficiently.
Reflector behind the radiator: Heating with a radiator? Put up a reflector or some foil behind it on the wall to help reflect heat back into the room.
Get a door snake: Buy or sew your own draft stopper or “door snake” to put along the base of your doors to stop drafts.
Put a blanket on your hot water heater: Install an insulated blanket on your hot water heater to help with efficiency.
Lock your windows: Not only safety, but this creates a tighter seal around your windows as well to help winterize your home.
Insulate your basement windows: Got windows in your basement? Hang insulated curtains or install Styrofoam to really insulate.
Insulate pipes: Be sure that any exposed pipes are insulated. This will help prevent any frozen and burst pipes.
Clean the chimney, or have it professionally done fort better airflow, heat better, and prevent chimney fires.
Stock up on firewood: This is usually a never ending chore. What’s the saying? “Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice.”
Prep fire starters: Start collecting toilet paper rolls and stuff them with dryer lint for great fire starters.
Go through your cold weather clothing: It’s time to find your coats, hats, scarves, and gloves. Make sure everything is clean, still fits, and the gloves are pairs. Donate anything that doesn’t fit anymore.
Bump up your area rug game: Don’t be afraid of layering rugs. It will make your home look cozy, as well as actually BE warm and cozy!
Get a humidifier: Winter weather is notoriously hard on your skin. Warm up your home and give your skin a boost with some extra humidity.
Turn down the hot water heater: Turn down the temperature on your hot water heater by even just a few degrees. This will help out your electric bill like crazy!
Layer up! Tempted to turn up the heat in the house? Layer up first! Put on socks and a hoodie first. Try going for a walk too! Move around and get your blood flowing.
Winterize Your Home for Safety
Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors: Are they working? Change the batteries if necessary. (Bonus tip- thinking of selling your house soon? The inspection will require a smoke detector in the main room and each bedroom and a carbon monoxide detector on each floor.)
Check your fire extinguisher: Having a fire extinguisher in the kitchen is always a safe idea. Annually you need to make sure the arrow is in the green. Having a second one in the garage is a good idea too.
Check your 72-hour kit: Make sure any medications, non-perishable foods, and water are all up to date and there is plenty in stock. Check your flashlights, candles, etc are all where you need them to be too. Be ready for those winter blackouts!
Bonus- Winterize Your Car
Prep your pickup truck: They are notoriously squirrely on ice thanks to their light beds. Add some weight and make getting around easier by adding some sandbags to the bed.
Winterize the car: Don’t just winterize your home, but make sure your car is ready too! Now is time to switch over to your winter tires, stash a blanket in the car, and make sure your car emergency kit is ready too! (Think jack, jumper cords, etc)
What are some of your tips to winterize your home or vehicle? Let us know over at Rootsy Members Facebook Group!