Living in the Midwest we are all too familiar with the near freezing and sometimes below freezing (anyone remember the Polar Vortex in 2019?) temperatures that occur here every year. As the temperatures drop, your home needs more prep to deal with such drastic weather. Read our updated tips below on how to properly winterize your home to keep it warm and dry throughout the long winter season.
How To Properly Winterize Your Home
For the Midwest’s winter season, it’s important to properly winterize your home. Follow our eight tips below so that your home stays warm, efficient, and properly protected from the upcoming cold weather.
Prevent Frozen Pipes
Temperatures that drop below freezing can easily cause the water in your pipes to freeze, which will expand and cause your pipes to burst. If this happens, water will spray/leak in your home and you’ll have the expense of replacing your pipes (which can get costly and is a big hassle especially during the winter time). So prevent frozen pipes with a little prep.
First, keep your home at 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) at minimum as most home insurance companies won’t covered burst pipes if the temperature in your home is too low. By keeping your thermostat at 60 degrees or above, you can be rest assured that even the coldest areas in your house won’t drop to freezing temperatures.
The pipes that are connected to your sprinkler system or garden hose are more prone to freezing temperatures since they are located outside. Prevent them from freezing by doing the following:
- Open the outside valve to let any remaining water to drain completely
- Disconnect and put away any connected hoses
- Turn off the shutoff valve in your home which feeds the water to the exterior pipes
- If you have an indoor drain valve near your shutoff valve, use this valve to drain any remaining water out of the line
If your home is built on top of a crawl space (no heated basement), take the following into account to prevent the pipes in your crawl space from freezing during the winter.
- Insulate your crawl space and seal up any cracks that allow cold air inside
- If you know a particularly cold day is coming, be sure to close all your crawl space’s vents. Don’t forget to open them again once the weather is warm to keep your crawl space dry
- If temperatures are going to drop below freezing, wrap the pipes that are along your outer walls with heat tape to keep them warm
Hire A Chimney Sweep
Do you have a wood burning fireplace or stove in your home? If the answer is yes, be sure to have it cleaned out and inspected by a professional chimney sweep. Doing so will extend the life of your fireplace as the chimney sweep will be able to clean out any soot and debris buildup from the past year. This deep cleaning can also prevent smoke damage to your home and may also reduce the risk of a house fire.
Clear Out Your Gutters
Another important way to prepare your home for the winter season is by cleaning out your gutters. As gutters are what move the melting snow and water away from your home. After fall, there is a good chance that your gutters are clogged with debris and leaves and if they are clogged, they won’t be able to do their job properly.
Choose a warmer day, grab your ladder, and a pair of gloves and clear out the leaves and debris to prepare your gutters for the winter season. You can also hire a professional to perform this task for you and depending on the size of your home they can most likely complete the job within a day.
Put Away & Protect Outdoor Your Items
If you have outdoor furniture and items, it’s time to put them away for the winter or cover those items to protect them from the winter snow fall and temperatures. Here are a few items to add to your list:
Bring in outdoor furniture cushions and cover your patio furniture
If you have a fire pit, remove any ashes and debris (if wood-burning), or disconnect it from the propane tank
Cover up your grill, disconnect from the tank (if propane fueled), clean and cover it up
Clean your deck thoroughly by sweeping off the leaves, debris, and scrape off dirt and mildew
Install Storm Windows and Doors
Consider installing storm windows and doors if you haven’t before. Storm windows and doors have replaceable glass panes and screens, which allow you to switch out the screen in favor of a glass pane or just add the glass pane in front of the screen. This extra layer of glass adds extra insulation to your home and gives your actual window an added buffer to the inclement winter weather. This also applies to storm doors, which gives the doors of your home an extra barrier.
With a few hours of work you can easily install storm doors and windows to your home for added insulation and a barrier against the bitter cold. Doing so will surely add more savings on your heating bill for the season too. Not just heating savings, storm doors and windows will also protect your home’s regular doors and windows from damage. As having to replace regular windows and doors can easily become expensive and should only be left to the pros.
Get Your Furnace Inspected & Replace Your Filter
Keep your home at a comfortable and cozy temperature all winter long by maintaining your HVAC system properly. To prep for the winter season, hire the proper inspector to check on your furnace, boiler, and other components of your HVAC system so that you will be rest assured that your system is running efficiently. The inspector can also replace your filter for you.
You can also replace the filter yourself; this is usually needed if you have a furnace or a heat pump. Filters range in quality and can last from 3 months to a year. If you have pets or find that your home tends to be dustier, you may need to replace your filter more often.
Get A Programmable Thermostat & Set It
Consider making the upgrade to a 7-day programmable thermostat or even a smart thermostat. Older thermostats don’t have advanced capabilities, which make it harder to keep on top of your heating costs. With a programmable thermostat, you’ll be able to keep your thermostat on a set schedule that works best for your needs. You can drop the temperature when you aren’t home and then increase the temperature when you are back.
You can also lower the temperature a few degrees for when you sleep, as cooler temps help keep you asleep. Small adjustments like this can greatly save you money over time. A smart thermostat is one step above a digital programmable one. With a smart thermostat, you can download the connecting app to your phone and adjust, set a schedule, and get alerts straight from your phone to allow for even more fine-tuned control over your heating costs.
Seal Potential Leaks
Don’t lose valuable heat to lack of proper sealing! If your home doesn’t have proper sealing, it will surely be prone to cold drafts. Those drafts will push cold air into your rooms and will leave your heating system to run longer, which will lead to an increase in your monthly heating bills. So be sure to properly seal your home for the winter using the tips below.
Use weather stripping to seal gaps between your door and its frame. Also consider using a door sweep at the bottom of your front and back doors in order to block out the cold air and keep in the warmth.
Check on the air tightness of your windows to great reduce the occurrence of drafts. If you locate any drafty windows, you can use calk to seal the cracks between the interior window trim and the wall. You can also install window film, which is a budget friendly way to greatly increase the insulation for your home. Window film kits can be purchased at any local home improvement store.
Additional Tips to Winter Proof Your Home
Make sure to change out your filters about once a month during the cold months. Doing so will keep the air in your home fresh and will keep your heating system running efficiently. If you have ceiling fans, reverse the rotation of the fans to push up the cool air in order to mix with the rising heat. This will encourage the warm air to spread down as a better way to warm your home.
When it's a sunny day, open up the curtains and allow the light and warmth of the sun to come inside. Doing this is a great way to warm up your home and at no added expense to you. By following our tips above, your home will surely be ready to withstand even the coldest winter temperatures.