Daylight Savings marks winter’s impending arrival. Fall’s colorful leaves will soon sink into the soil, covered by a layer of snow or a wave of chilly air, depending on where you live. While the thought of cozying up by the fireplace and enjoying holiday festivities is delightful, it's essential to ensure your home is well-prepared for the colder months ahead. The temperatures will continue to drop, and your motivation for conducting home maintenance will fall along with them. If you neglect winter home maintenance entirely, it can lead to costly repairs and uncomfortable situations.
Imagine waking up to a freezing house due to a ventilation issue or an overwhelming stench indicative of mold growth. To help you through, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the top seven tasks homeowners should complete before winter. Let's take a closer look at these essential tasks that will help you safeguard your home's health and safety.
Task 1: Inspect and Prepare Your Furnace
How to Winterize Your Furnace: Before the cold weather sets in, it's crucial to ensure that your furnace is in top-notch condition. Start by changing the furnace filters, which should be done regularly throughout the heating season. A clean filter ensures optimal airflow and efficiency. Moreover, dirty filters can lead to poor indoor air quality. Changing them ensures your family breathes clean and healthy air during the winter.
Schedule a Professional Furnace Inspection: Consider scheduling a professional furnace inspection. Certified technicians can identify any issues, such as a malfunctioning thermostat, pilot light problems, or gas leaks, that might go unnoticed during a DIY inspection. WIN Home Inspection offers an Infrared (IR) Scan that detects thermal abnormalities, indicative of ventilation issues. It can alert you of a malfunctioning furnace.
Common Furnace Issues to Look Out For:
- Uneven heating in different rooms.
- Strange noises, such as banging or rattling.
- Frequent cycling on and off.
- Sudden increase in energy bills.
Task 2: Seal Air Leaks Around Windows and Doors
Why Sealing Air Leaks is Crucial for Energy Efficiency: Air leaks around windows and doors can significantly impact your home's energy efficiency, leading to higher heating bills. Properly sealing these gaps will keep your home warmer and more comfortable while saving on energy costs. Furthermore, single pane windows might also contribute to heat loss, depending on the structure of your home and where you reside. Consider making your windows double-paned to ensure an energy-efficient heating plan.
Step-by-Step Guide to Sealing Air Leaks:
- Check for drafts: On a windy day, hold a lit incense stick or birthday candle around the window in question, and look for irregular flame movement to detect drafts. We do not recommend leaving a candle or flame unaccompanied as doing so could lead to a fire.
- Apply weatherstripping: Install weatherstripping around windows and doors to seal gaps.
- Use caulk: Apply caulk to seal any cracks or gaps in the window frames and door frames.
- Insulate your attic: Adequate attic insulation prevents warm air from escaping through the roof.
Task 3: Test Your Sump Pump
A sump pump plays a vital role in preventing basement flooding during heavy rains and snowmelt. Ensure it is functioning correctly to avoid costly water damage repairs.
Where to Find Your Sump Pump: A sump pump is a circular hole in your basement floor with piping. Contact your local WIN home inspector for help identifying and working with your basement’s sump pump.
How to Test Your Sump Pump:
- Pour water into the sump pit until the float triggers the pump to turn on.
- Ensure the pump removes the water efficiently and that it doesn't make unusual noises.
- Consider installing a backup sump pump system to provide extra protection.
Helpful Tips for Troubleshooting Common Sump Pump Problems:
- Check the power source and connections.
- Clear any debris from the sump pit.
- Ensure the discharge pipe is free of obstructions.
Task 4: Winterize Your Sprinkler System
Why Winterizing Your Sprinkler System is Necessary: Freezing temperatures can cause pipes to burst in your sprinkler system, resulting in costly repairs. Winterizing prevents this by removing water from the system.
Step-by-Step Guide to Winterize Your Sprinkler System:
- Turn off the water supply to the system.
- Drain the pipes and valves by opening all the drain valves.
- Blow out the remaining water from the system using an air compressor.
- Insulate above-ground components to protect them from freezing.
Tools and Materials Required:
- Air compressor
- Insulation materials
Task 5: Prepare Your Pool for Winter
Closing your pool for winter is crucial to protect it from freezing temperatures and debris. To prepare your pool for winter, follow these steps:
- Balance the pool's chemical levels.
- Clean the pool thoroughly, removing leaves and debris.
- Remove and store pool accessories.
- Cover the pool securely to prevent leaves and snow from accumulating.
Importance of Chemical Balance and Covering Your Pool: Maintaining chemical balance ensures that your pool's water remains clean and clear during the winter. Additionally, covering your pool prevents contamination and simplifies the reopening process in the spring.
Task 6: Weatherize Your Home for Winter
Weatherization involves making your home more energy-efficient to reduce heat loss. This not only lowers energy bills, but also enhances comfort in your home during winter.
9 Best Tips for Weatherizing Your Home:
- Insulate the attic, walls, and floors.
- Install storm windows and doors.
- Seal gaps around electrical outlets and switch plates.
- Apply weatherstripping to doors and windows.
- Upgrade to a programmable thermostat.
- Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket.
- Insulate hot water pipes.
- Seal air ducts and add insulation, if necessary.
- Replace old, inefficient windows with energy-efficient ones.
Task 7: Prepare for Common Home Emergencies
Being prepared for common winter home emergencies can prevent panic and minimize damage.
- Frozen pipes: Insulate exposed pipes and keep faucets dripping during extremely cold temperatures.
- Roof leaks: Inspect your roof for damage and ensure proper insulation.
- Power outages: Stock up on essential supplies and have a backup power source, like a generator.
- Ice dams: Properly insulate your attic to prevent heat from escaping through the roof, creating ice dams and damaging your roof and gutters.
Keep these local contact numbers on hand in case of an emergency:
- News source or government emergency services source
- Roofing contractor
- Emergency services hotline
General Home Preparation for Winter
Detailed Checklist for General Winter Home Preparation:
1. Get a Fireplace and Chimney Inspection. Creosote buildup, which is a flue fire hazard, and other potential fire hazards that could threaten your property and personal belongings if not properly addressed before use each season.
2. Schedule a Drone Roof Inspection. Stay grounded, prevent falls, and ensure your roof is in good condition with WIN’s Drone Roof Inspection. Drones utilize specialized cameras that can identify loose or missing shingles, possible areas of leaks, and signs of water damage.
3. Conduct an Air Quality Test. Ensure your indoor air is healthy with WIN’s Air Quality Test by identifying common allergens that could threaten the health of you and your family. Remember, the young, old and immunocompromised are the most vulnerable to poor air quality and could show signs of allergies or asthma.
4. Protect outdoor furniture and equipment. Properly store or cover outdoor furniture with weatherproof materials to keep them in good condition for use come the spring season.
Preparing your home for winter is not only essential for your comfort, but also for your wallet. Neglecting these tasks can lead to costly repairs and discomfort during the coldest months of the year. By following our top 7 tasks, you can ensure that your home is ready to withstand the challenges that winter brings, so you can enjoy the beauty of the season. Don't wait until it's too late; take action now to create a warm, safe, and cozy haven for you and your family this winter season.
WIN’s Healthy Home Check allows you to customize your service packages and add-ons into an essential service that’s right for you. This distinct service for homeowners ensures your family is safe year-round, increases home value over time and reduces repair costs. Integrate WIN’s Healthy Home Check into your winter ‘to-do’ tasks, and protect your greatest investment, your home.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should you do to your house before winter?
Before winter arrives, homeowners should complete essential tasks such as inspecting the furnace, sealing air leaks, testing the sump pump, winterizing the sprinkler system and pool, weatherizing the home, and preparing for common winter home emergencies.
What should I prepare before winter?
Before winter, prepare your home by ensuring your heating system is in good condition, sealing any air leaks, protecting against freezing pipes, and making sure you have essential supplies in case of power outages. Also, consider winterizing outdoor systems like sprinklers and pools.
What are some common winter home emergencies?
Common winter home emergencies include frozen pipes, roof leaks, power outages, and ice dams. Proper preparation and preventive measures can help mitigate these issues and keep your home safe and comfortable during the winter months.