Prepare Your House for Winter
Edited by Ermin, Robbi, Lynn, Angela and 1 other
Winter is a great season. It's a sign that Christmas and New Year's are fast approaching, and there will be family gatherings. To fully enjoy the season and avoid any hassle that may arise from the cold weather, start preparing before it arrives. If you're not prepared, you could end up with a high energy bill and a drafty house, among other things. Get your house ready for the winter to save money and avoid major annoyances like frozen pipes and leaky gutters. If you start getting ready in the fall, you can look forward to a warm and cozy home in the winter. Follow the steps below to get ready for winter and preserve your home's value.
How to Prepare Your House for Winter
Insulate your Windows.
You may want to start insulating your Windows now, because the cold wind will make its way inside in the winter. Sealing your Windows can help keep your energy bills down by holding the heat in, and it will also help preserve your home's components. Check around your window frames for any cracks where the cold air can get in. If there are any, seal them with caulking. If you don't have insulated Windows, consider covering them with plastic.
Prepare your fireplace.
Another way to cut your energy bill is to use the furnace as little as possible. If you have a fireplace, you should use it instead. However, a wood-burning fireplace is a bit of a hassle because it requires a lot of tending to. If you have a modern electric fireplace, it's a great alternative because it's believed to consume 90 percent less electricity than a central heating unit. The only bad thing about this is that it can only heat one room; however, this can be a great investment if you spend a lot of time in one area of your house. If you do not have an electric fireplace, there are many affordable options available online.
Clean the chimney.
If you will be using a wood-burning fireplace, you may want to start cleaning up all of its parts, including the chimney. Debris can build up in the chimney's flue, which will prevent the smoke from escaping properly. The carbon monoxide in the smoke is undetectable, and it can be fatal if it builds up indoors. It is best to hire a professional chimney sweep to clean and inspect your chimney every year before you use it. You will also need to keep the area clean and maintained throughout the winter.
Clean the downspouts and gutters.
Start cleaning your roof gutters and downspouts to ensure that there will be no problems when winter comes. Falling debris and leaves can clog your gutters and result in leaks or damage as heavy snow and ice builds up and melts. You may want to start checking the gutters and downspouts of your house to make sure there are no damages or leaves stuck there in the fall before the cold weather comes. You should also check for corrosion to ensure that there are no holes where water can leak through. If there are, make sure to have those sections replaced. If they're not fixed before winter comes, ice and snow accumulation can cause serious damage to these pipes.
Use heavy curtains and draft stoppers.
Sealing your drafty Windows is not the only way to keep it warm inside your house. You may want to change your regular curtains to a heavier fabric, which can help hold the heat in. Look for thermal or insulating curtains, which are made specifically to hold the heat in. If necessary, place draft stoppers on the window sills to prevent drafts from the bottom of your Windows.
Trim the tree branches near your house.
Trim any long, overgrown tree branches near your home before the winter comes. A heavy winter storm could possibly blow the branches into your home, power lines or vehicle, causing extensive damage and a potentially dangerous situation. The weight of the heavy snow and ice can also cause weak branches to come down.
Keep your pipes from freezing.
If your home's water pipes are exposed to very cold weather, you'll need to take some precautions to prevent them from freezing or bursting in very cold weather. Turn off outdoor faucets and drain the water from outdoor pipes, including those used to supply sprinklers, hoses and swimming pools. Insulate pipes that are located in unheated areas with a thick layer of newspaper or pipe insulation. If it is going to be very cold and you can't heat the area where the pipes are located, allow water to trickle slowly from the faucet to prevent them from freezing. If the pipes are located inside a cabinet or under the sink, open the door to let the heat in. Do not allow your home's temperature to drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit or 13 degrees Celsius for an extended length of time. It will cost a bit more for your energy and water bill, but it's much better than the cost and hassle of frozen or burst pipes.
What to Do If Your Pipes Freeze
If your pipes happen to freeze and you can access the pipe yourself, turn off the main valve that supplies water to your home. Open the faucet to allow the water to drain as it melts. Wrap a hot towel around the pipe. Do not use an open flame or electric heat directly on the pipe to melt the water. If the pipe bursts, you could end up getting electrocuted. When water begins to flow from the faucet, turn the main valve back on, and then turn on the hot and cold faucets located on the lowest level of your home. Let the water run for a bit. If you can't access the frozen pipe or it bursts, you'll need to call a plumber.
Questions and Answers
How to use snow to insulate drafty Windows?
Believe it or not snow can actually be a very efficient insulator. However, keep in mind that any heat going out of the window or frame may melt the snow. This will give you a soaked frame or floor problem. It is simple to insulate drafty Windows. Just pile snow on your window sill and you are good to go.
Recent edits by: Angela, Lynn, Robbi