Whether you live in a region that gets outrageously cold or not, it’s a good idea to take the appropriate steps to make sure your home is ready for freezing temperatures. Just in case. You wouldn’t want to deal with massive repair costs due to pipes bursting or be surprised with a monstrous electric bill from trying to keep your leaky home warm.
If your home is going to be vacant for the winter, make sure you’re ready to conduct some extra care before you leave. Now, let’s get into our tips on how to protect your wallet and winterize your home for the coming winter months.
How to Winterize Your Home:
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1. Insulate the Pipes
Frozen pipes are bad and burst pipes are worse! When the water in your pipes freeze, the ice expands and blocks the pipe completely. This causes water pressure in the pipe to increase and, if too much pressure develops, it’ll rupture and you’ll end up with a bad case of flooding.
Homes in the northern region of the US are typically protected in insulated spaces already, but southern states aren’t since freezing temperatures don’t happen as often, obviously. When freezing temperatures are coming you’re likely to see signs posted around your neighborhood warning you to allow the faucets to drip. This relieves pressure on your home’s water system, so it’s a good idea to pay attention to these warnings.
Tips on how to winterize your pipes:
- Disconnect, drain and store garden hoses.
- Insulate unprotected pipes with pipe sleeves.
- Find your main water valve shut off for emergencies.
- Shut off the water lines if your home will be vacant.
- Seal any foundation vents, cracks or openings in walls where there are pipes.
- If your exterior faucets have cut-off valves, close them and drain the faucets. If not, insulate them with foam facet covers.
2. Maintain the Water Heater
We all adore the hot water that our water heaters give us. So, return the love and wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket if it isn’t well insulated where it stands. However, if your house will be vacant for a long period of time, water can freeze and cause all kinds of damage to your home, both inside and out.
If water will not be running through the pipes, you should cut off the water supply by turning off the water valve, and then empty the water heater, drain all water from the pipes by running all the faucets until no water comes out, and fill all fixtures with an anti-freeze solution.
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3. Check Doors and Windows
Leaky windows or cracks in walls or insulation can let out the warm air your HVAC is working so hard to supply. Blocking air leaks can save 5% – 30% of your energy use. Most drafts are underneath doors and windows. To fix this you can either get a draft snake for doors, and you can purchase weather-resistant caulk for your windows. If you want to be really thorough make sure to even weather strip crawl spaces to narrow down areas that leak cold air into your home.
Installing storm windows and doors can increase your home’s efficiency by 45%! They can be pricey but they increase home value which is never a bad thing if you ever decide to move. You could also just replace old windows with energy-efficient alternatives and call it a day if that’s much more in your budget. Either way, you’ll save yourself money on your energy bills.
4. Conduct a Home Energy Audit
Speaking of saving money on energy bills, along with everything we’ve discussed so far, make sure your house is well insulated or else you’re fighting a downhill battle. Also, you can call your local power company and see if they do energy-saving assessments. It’s usually free and they identify changes to make your house more energy-efficient and save you money.
Another thing you can do to save money is by reversing ceiling fans. Yes, it’s a thing! Most fans have a small switch on them that indicate this feature. All you have to do is switch it to make it rotate clockwise. It seems weird that fans can keep you warm, but they rotate clockwise, they end up pushing warm air back down and force it to go back throughout the room. Pretty cool!
5. Adjust the Thermostat
We know that if you’re going to be in your house during the winter months, the heater is going to be well above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, but if you’re leaving it vacant, do not let it fall under that temperature. On top of wrapping your pipes, keeping your house above this temperature will help ensure your plumbing is protected. Again, you don’t want to come back to busted pipes and a flooded home.
6. Inspect the HVAC System
Making sure the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system is running efficiently and securely. You can either hire someone to do it or if you’re confident you’ll do a thorough job, just do it yourself. This will make sure you’re not only safe but that your house isn’t wasting energy while trying to keep you nice and toasty.
When inspecting your HVAC system make sure you:
- Check carbon monoxide levels
- Clean and replace air filters
- Examine blower operation
- Clean motor and fan
- Inspect gas piping to the furnace
- Check heating ducts
7. Store Outdoor Equipment
Even your mowers and trimmers need love too. If you’re going to store them away until the spring, make sure you refer to your owner manuals to make sure you’re completing the proper maintenance before putting them away for hibernation.
However, if your mowers, timmers, tools, etc. have been loved enough during the summer, don’t bother putting them in storage. They’re just going to take up space, collect dust, and give you more to deal with when spring finally comes back around.
Lawnmowers are recyclable since they’re mostly made of plastic, steel and aluminum alloy. You can contact your local government to find out if your local recycling center will accept your specific type of lawnmower. If not, you can always depend on LoadUp to help you with disposing of an old lawnmower, leaf blower, gardening tools, and more.
8. Store Outdoor Furniture and Grills
After dealing with a tough summer, the grueling cold temperatures, snow, and ice to come can further damage outdoor furniture and grills. If you don’t have a storage unit, garage, or basement where they can stay for the winter, wrap them in thick covers to protect them.
Between the sun beating down on them and any tropical storms, hurricanes, or other natural disasters blasting through your outdoor furniture, you may find that they’re not the same spectacles they once were. If your furniture is looking weathered and sad, save yourself the storage space and get rid of them. You can donate, recycle, sell, or hire a junk removal company like LoadUp to take care of outdoor furniture removal and disposal for you.
9. Protect Your Plants
Don’t let them face the cold all alone! Bring those babies inside and keep them well taken care of. Different plants can survive different temperatures, but typically you should bring your plants in before temperatures dip below 45 degrees.
To protect outdoor plants, you should mulch with organic material to help release good nutrients into the earth for the season. To protect tender tree trunks, you can also wrap them with burlap or whitewash them to prevent winter sunscald, which is visible damage to plant tissue.
10. Prep and Clean Your Fireplace
Before you get started with the chestnuts roasting on an open fire and making smores in your living room, make sure you’re not going to end up with a house fire or hazardous situation on your hands. You can do this by hiring someone to clean your chimney before you light your first fire.
Animals can nest inside fireplaces and creosote, a dark brown oil distilled from coal tar, can buildup in your fireplace. Creosote has been determined by EPA that it is a probable human carcinogen, meaning it can cause lung cancer if inhaled.
Winterizing Your Home is Snow Joke ❄️
If you follow our tips you will be on your way to a well-prepared home. Winterizing your home makes it more energy-efficient and will keep you and those you live with snug as a bug. So don’t be afraid of putting in a little extra effort because not only will your home thank you, but so will your wallet.