Essential Tips for Winterizing Your Home

Preparing your home for winter weather can save you thousands down the road.

Idaho winter is just around the corner. With it comes weather conditions that can damage your home and cause financial headaches that last through spring and summer.

Preventing cold weather destruction takes little time and should be on your to-do list before the first snow.

Preventing cold weather destruction takes little time and should be on your to-do list before the first snow. 

Check Heating System

Maintenance is the name of the game with temperature control systems. Each fall, remember that as the foliage changes colors, so should you be changing the filter on your home’s heating and air conditioning system. 

“People spend a lot more time indoors during the winter, so you want to make sure your air filter isn’t dirty,” said Western Heating and Air Conditioning Service Manager Chance Oswalt. 

Oswalt, who’s been in the heating business for 15 years, said basic maintenance on a system can save Idahoans on expensive, preventable repairs. 

“Our technicians will pull and clean various components, adjust gas pressure, and check temperature rise” he said. “But there’s a list of items we go through.”

The idea is to prevent a breakdown during the coldest months, Oswalt said. He said homeowners should also have a look at their thermostat settings to make sure they are optimized for winter. 

Seal the Outside 

Grab a caulk gun and some sealant to check for any spots on the sides and roof of your home where moisture can creep in and cause rot and mold. If your paint is old and worn in spots, apply a fresh coat to keep out moisture. Spot repairs like this can save you thousands down the road. 

Spigots

If you live in a particularly cold part of Idaho, shut off the water valve to your outside spigot, then open the spigot to let any extra water drain so that water doesn’t freeze and cause damage. 

Gutters 

Fall leaves and debris clog gutters and can end up costing you a pretty penny if you don’t act. Remove all debris from the roof and gutters and make sure there are no clogs to ensure ideal drainage. Frozen water and debris in gutters can cause them to come crashing down, along with your savings balance. 

Chimney 

Nothing beats a cozy fireplace during a snowstorm, but failing to clean your chimney regularly can cause that cozy fire to become a house-consuming blaze. Modern chimney sweeps can help you identify any usage issues before you light that first fire. 

Detecting Equipment 

Testing carbon monoxide and smoke detectors each fall can save your life. House fires during winter are commonly caused by heating systems, which can also put off dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide in a well-insulated environment. 

Sprinklers 

Blow out those sprinkler systems to prevent frozen water from reeking havoc. Landscape companies offer this service if you don’t have the equipment to do it yourself, but if you’re the type who likes DIY projects, there are plenty of videos online. 

Just be sure you know what you’re doing and don’t end up doing more harm than good. 

Pool 

Draining the pool during fall makes it easy to seal any cracks and conduct maintenance or repairs. It’s always easier to schedule a repair during the offseason than it is in months when temperatures are ideal for taking a dip. 

Insulation 

Older homes are not nearly as energy efficient as the variety being built today. For instance, windows in older houses are known to have poor insulation from the outside cold. The idea is to heat your own home, not the whole neighborhood, so consider sealing windows and any other potentially leaky areas.  

Patio

That beautiful wood deck of yours provided a much needed spot for grilling and relaxing during the summer. Continue that tradition by covering patio furniture and grills. Also consider applying deck sealer so ice and snow doesn’t damage the wood. 

Snow Removal 

Idaho is no stranger to snow, and keeping outside pathways clear can be a winterlong chore. Before the first snowfall sets in, do a sweep of the areas outside where you’ll be banging around a snow shovel and throwing down ice remover salt. 

Protect surfaces that can be damaged by ice remove and repair any cracks in hard surfaces as the constant thawing and refreezing of water during winter only makes these issues worse. 

Pipes

During winter months, water can freeze and expand  in exposed or uninsulated pipes causing them to burst, costing thousands of dollars in repair and renovation bills. Make sure all pipes are insulated prior to the onset of freezing temperatures. 

Ceiling Fans

See that little up and down switch on the main body of your ceiling fan? That button determines the direction of the blades, which helps circulate warm air in the winter and cool air during summer months. 

During winter, the switch should be up creating an updraft to bring warmer air near the ceiling down toward the floor. Slower blade speeds are ideal for this affect, which helps cut down on your heating bill. 

Outdoor Lighting 

The winter months are long and dark, which requires more outdoor lighting for things like navigating snow and ice removal. Lighting sections of the outside of your home helps prevent slips and injuries when collecting the mail and getting to and from your car. 

Emergency Supplies 

In the case of a severe winter storm where you can’t leave your home, keep a well-stocked emergency kit with water, non-perishable food, pet food, batteries, a radio, LED lights, blankets, medical supplies. A generator and fuel for charging electronic devices like your cellphone can be a game changer.