Play It Safe: Tips for Winterizing Your Home

February 01, 2018

Play It Safe: Tips for Winterizing Your Home

This time of year it feels like the cold just keeps coming. If your climate is still reaching freezing temperatures or has the potential to freeze again this season, it's not too late to take steps to prevent winter damage to your house. Check out these great tips for winterizing your home from our friend Aimee Lyons of DIYDarlin.com.

Winter is a bad time to get a nasty surprise from your house. That’s because it’s likely to be a costly surprise, something that’s been building up for a while, perhaps in your water pipes, furnace, or fireplace. It could be a problem that leaves you and your family shivering in rooms that should be warm and toasty. The important thing to remember is that many of these mishaps can easily be prevented for a few dollars and a few minutes of your time. Winterizing is a matter of habit, of preventing damage and expensive repairs with routine maintenance and attention to detail. It’s one of those tasks you may never get around to if you put it off. Regular maintenance rewards you with a warm, dry, and efficient home all winter long.


Preventing Water Damage

Water damage can come in many forms. It could be a foot of standing water in your basement or structural damage caused by a burst pipe. This is one of the most costly problems to fix after the fact, so take the time to protect yourself. Start by disconnecting all hoses from outdoor spigots, which should be covered with a protector (which costs under $10) so that cold air doesn’t get into your pipes from the outside.

Pipes that run along your home’s exterior should be carefully insulated to prevent the water inside from freezing and expanding, which can cause them to burst. Wrap foam plumbing insulation around each pipe, a simple do-it-yourself job that’ll only cost you a dollar or two per six feet of insulation. And make sure there’s sufficient insulation in the attic to prevent ice dams, a buildup of ice that can do considerable damage to your roof.


Don’t Forget the Gutters

Let’s face it. Cleaning out the gutters is an incredible pain in the neck. Nobody likes getting up on a ladder or climbing on the roof to clean out leaves and all manner of debris, from sticks to insect parts. The cost of letting it go can be extremely high, possibly running into the tens of thousands if misdirected water runoff does enough residual damage to your home’s foundation. Rain and runoff from melting snow and ice will bypass a clogged gutter and find other ways to reach the ground, which is why water flows off your roof, over your gutter, and into every little nook and cranny of your foundation.

Furnace Upkeep

A safe and efficient furnace is your defense against the cold and having to wear a parka to the bathroom or layering up so you don’t freeze in your bed. Routine furnace maintenance should be a cornerstone of every winterization plan, especially if you live in a cold-weather climate. Your furnace works hard during the long, frigid months so be sure to change your furnace filter regularly (at least every two months) and have it inspected every fall (shouldn’t cost more than $100). Changing dirty filters not only keeps allergens and contaminants out of the air you breathe, but could save anywhere from 10 to 15 percent on your heating bills.


Fireplace Care

Everyone loves a roaring fire on a cold, winter night. But homeowners who use their fireplaces a lot during the winter are playing Russian roulette if the chimney and flue aren’t inspected every year. A buildup of creosote and soot is a recipe for disaster, and ventilation problems can allow dangerous fumes to enter your home.



Without regular preventive maintenance and annual inspections of your furnace and fireplace, you’re asking for major trouble. Fire, water damage, and mechanical breakdowns may result, making it a winter you’ll want to forget. Following a winterizing checklist every year can keep you out of harm’s way.



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