When cold weather approaches, it is important to take preventative measures to protect your home throughout the winter. Winterizing your home can be done relatively inexpensively, will make a big difference in how comfortable your home is, and could save you money on energy bills, as well. Many effective home weatherproofing jobs can be completed by homeowners without professional help.

Weatherproofing Your Home

Some smaller weatherproofing jobs require little to no experience and can make a real difference once cold weather hits. By doing these things before the cold comes, you can save yourself some inconvenience and money.

• Clean gutters and downspouts in the fall and double-check them before winter.
• Replace the filters in your home heating system.
• Close any vents in your home that may have been opened for the warm weather.
• Disconnect hoses from outside faucets, turn off the water and insulate the hose bib.
• Purchase snow shovels and other winter supplies before the winter weather hits and supplies are gone.
• Keep extra water and canned foods in storage just in case.

Weatherproofing Inspections

Some homeowners may be able to tackle these jobs themselves but there is no substitute for a professional to ensure home efficiency through the winter months:

• Check the attic, walls, and basement for adequate insulation.
• Check around electrical outlets and switch-plates for cold air and add insulation where necessary.
• Look around doors and windows for gaps and identify any places where warm air can escape.
• Caulk or apply weather stripping around problem drafty areas.
• Have your heating/cooling company look at your furnace if you are unsure of its efficiency.
• Be sure that chimneys and woodstoves are cleaned early in the season.
• Test to be sure that your fireplace flue has a tight seal when closed.

Weatherproof Windows

There are many places in your home where heat can escape and cold air can enter but windows are one of the biggest. In older homes, having weatherproof windows can make a big difference in your energy costs and how comfortable your living areas feel. In some cases you might only need s bit of caulk or weather-stripping to weatherproof windows, but if your windows have seen better days, consider replacing them with energy-efficient double paned windows to create a more energy efficient space.

Weatherproof Plumbing

When preparing you house for the winter, don’t forget about your water system. When water freezes, it expands. If the temperature of your pipes drops below 32 degrees, even for a short period, you run the risk of a pipe fracture or worse. Do the followings now to avoid a big problems later.

Inside Your Home

When cold air blows on a pipe, there is a potential for freezing. To make sure your pipes are well-insulated, close crawl space vents and place insulation over the openings. Even a small hole can let a lot of cold air in so be sure you fill in all the cracks.
Bathrooms or laundry rooms located above or adjacent to a garage can be particularly vulnerable, so keep the garage door closed to maintain maximum heat.
If your bathroom pipes run along an outside exterior wall, keep the vanity doors open to allow more heat inside. If you are anticipating a deep freeze, you may want to purchase a safe small space heater for extra temporary heat.

You should never turn off the heat when you leave home during the winter. Instead, set the temperature no lower than 55 degrees F, even higher if you have had problems in the past or live in an area where the temperatures get extremely cold. If you have multiple heat zones, be sure to adjust all thermostats appropriately.

Outside Your Home

Disconnect and store your garden hoses. If your home has a separate shut-off for external faucets, turn it off and drain the water from those faucets.

Turn off and drain any sprinkler systems. You may need to call your sprinkler company to blow out any leftover water in the underground lines. A broken sprinkler pipe can cause damage to the internal mechanical components that are part of the entire system, increasing the cost of any repairs significantly.

Know where your main waterline shut-off is before problems arise. It can be inside your garage, basement, laundry room, or underground in your yard. If you ever need to turn the water main off, you will know where it is. Make sure everyone in your home knows where this main waterline shut-off is located.

Signs You Have Frozen Pipes

• You turn on the faucet but nothing comes out.
• The water is turned off but you hear water running. This could be a sign that you have a leak somewhere. You should turn off the water lines immediately and investigate.