6 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter
Winter is coming—and as temperatures drop there are a few precautions you must take to keep your home warm, sturdy, and dry by the time Jack Frost rears his head. Prepping for the big chill calls for more than buying a new snow shovel and stocking up on de-icer.
Weatherproofing for wintertime is important not just for your house's energy efficiency, but your family's safety as well. We checked in with our favorite mother-daughter home renovation duo—Karen E Laine and Mina Starsiak Hawk of HGTV's Good Bones—for advice on getting the home ready for the coldest season of the year.
"It's never too soon to weatherproof your home because you never want to wait until the last minute to quickly scramble things together," says Hawk. "The seasonal change is sometimes unpredictable, so weatherproofing at the beginning of fall is always the best time to get a jump-start on winter."
Here are Laine and Hawk's top tips:
1. Clear the Gutters
Clogged gutters that aren't properly draining can cause water damage that leads to costly repairs. "Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear so you don't get back-ups that would allow water to freeze inside of them, expand and/or cause problems," says Hawk.
2. Add Insulation
Before the temperature drops, makes sure there is enough insulation in your attic and crawl spaces, especially if you live in an older home. "Critters, mold, and moisture can affect the efficiency of your attic and crawl space insulation," says Laine, who recommends scheduling semi-annual inspections.
3. Inspect the Chimney
During the colder months, naturally, you and the kiddos are going to be gathering around a toasty fire, reading stories and roasting s'mores. Before you light up, inspect your fireplace and chimney. Residue build-up increases the risk of fire, so be sure to call in a chimney sweep. To keep chilly drafts at bay, be sure the fireplace damper closes tightly. "Definitely perform regular maintenance on your wood-burning fireplace to ensure your flue is in working order and there aren't any cleanliness issues that could be a hazard," says Hawk.
4. Seal the Windows and Doors
Drafty windows and doors can cause energy bills to skyrocket during the fall and winter. Check the weatherstripping and caulking around your windows and doors to make sure they are tightly sealed. "Properly caulked windows and doors prevent air intrusion, the major cause of heat loss," says Laine.
5. Maintain Your Heating System
Have your current heating system inspected before winter arrives. "It seems like it's always the coldest day when your system fails because it hasn't been serviced yet that season," says Hawk. The mother-daughter duo recommends having a regular furnace maintenance and filter change scheduled. If you are looking to upgrade an outdated system to something more energy efficient, the Laine and Hawk recommend the budget-friendly Trane S9V2 Furnace.
They also warn against closing heat ducts throughout your home. "Closing the vents to unused rooms only makes your furnace work harder and less efficiently," says Hawk. "Keep them open to keep air flowing freely."
6. Keep Pipes Warm
Frozen pipes are generally a problem in older homes, whereas with newer construction plumbing is installed in a way that safeguards them against icing over. "If you have an older home, insulate behind pipes or around pipes if possible," says Laine. "Wrap pipes with electrical heating tape." On days when there are extreme temperature drops, the Good Bones team advises keeping your house thoroughly heated, opening cabinet doors, and leaving faucets dripping.