How to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Now that the weather is starting to get colder, it’s time to think about preparing your home for winter. Even though here in East Tennessee it doesn’t always get too cold in the winter, it certainly reaches a point that requires some home maintenance.

With just a few simple tips, you can make sure that your home doesn’t have any major problems as the temperature continues to drop.

Take a look at your furnace

If you have a furnace, make sure to call an HVAC specialist that can come out and inspect your furnace and clean out your ducts. Of course, don’t forget to also stock up on furnace filters and swap them out each month.

Don’t forget to move any material away from your furnace that you might have placed on or near it during the warmer months.

Additionally, if you heat your home with a hot-water radiator,  bleed the values. This consists of opening them slightly until water begins to come out, then closing them again.

This can help make sure that nothing goes wrong so you can stay warm and toasty even when the weather outside is brisk.

Double check all doors and windows

Almost everything regarding your doors and windows can be completed on your own, but a few will require a professional.

First, walk around the inside and outside of your home to make sure there aren’t any cracks or exposed areas around pipes or openings. If there are, seal them up. You should also look at the weatherstripping around your doors. If any doors bordering outside don’t have weatherstripping, add it. If, on the other hand, any of them seem slightly destroyed, replace them.

Another simple fix to make sure your house stays warm and you don’t waste money on heating costs is to re-caulk any windows that could use it. Caulk is economical to buy, simple to use, and can help keep a lot of heat inside your house.

Of course, if you have any cracks in your windows or ones that don’t close properly, it would be prudent to simply replace the glass or window completely. Additionally, installing storm windows if you have them can help keep the heat inside your home.

Pad pipes

If your pipe freezes in the winter, it could potentially burst, causing a lot damage and costing you quite a bit of money. You can avoid this by buying some tubular pipe insulation sleeves from any hardware store.

Then, cover all exposed pipes in unheated areas, including the attic, basement, and crawl space. Make sure you also cover the bends and joints and seal the seams with duct tape.

You should be able to accomplish this simple task yourself as the sleeves aren’t difficult to apply and can be easily cut to fit your specific pipes. With this, you’ll be able to conserve energy while saving yourself from potentially damaging and costly water damage.

Prepare your fireplace

First, make sure you have a screen at the top of your chimney so rodents and birds don’t sneak into your warm house. I know from personal experience that birds can make a nest inside of your unused fireplace, so don’t skip this step.

Then, call a chimney sweep to get rid of all that soot at creosote so you have a more efficient fireplace and take a look at the fireplace damper to guarantee it has a proper opening and closing, sealing tightly.

You should also make sure there aren’t any cracks in your fireplace or broken bricks or crumbling mortar on the outside. If so, fix it.

Another good idea is to stock up on firewood and make sure you have a lot of wood chopped in advance. This way, as long as you store it in a dry place far from the exterior of your home, you won’t be forced to go outside in the freezing cold and chop of the firewood you need.

Inspect your roof, gutters, and downspouts

First, it’s always a good idea to add extra insulation to your attic if the weather gets below freezing in the winter. This way, not only will you keep your home warmer, but you’ll prevent warm air from getting to your roof, potentially causing ice dams.

You should replace all worn roof shingles or tiles and double check flashing to make sure water can’t get into your house. Then, while you should make sure that your gutters and downspouts are clean all year round, this is especially important in the winter.

If your gutters are clogged and block the drainage of rain and melted snow, this can cause leaks and damage to your home. They become particularly cluttered in the autumn with the falling leaves, so it’s important to keep on top of this before winter.

You can make sure that the entire system is unclogged and leak free by running water through it.

Double check all of your weather-specific equipment

This one isn’t very necessary for your home but is very useful when cold winter temperatures roll around.

Take a look at your snow blower and fix it if it isn’t working, find your snow shovel and rake and replace them if necessary, and buy bags of salt for your driveway in case it’s frozen and you need to drive somewhere.

Check your foundation

First, make sure you rake all debris away from your foundation. Then, check the perimeter and make sure you seal any small holes to keep out small animals and rodents searching for warmth in the winter. Even if you think a foundation crack is too small for a mouse to fit through, seal it. You’d be surprised.

Then, secure all crawlspace entrances and inspect sill plates for pest infestation or dry rot.

After these tips, you’ll keep your home warm and trouble-free all winter long.

Michele Karl is the Owner/Broker of Priority Real Estate. She can be reached at her email at [email protected] or give her a call at her office at 865-577-6600.