Winterize Your Home: A Checklist for Prepared Homeowners
Winter is coming to Utah, and it will bring more than just the world’s best ski powder. Piled-up snow, icy roads, dangerously dirty air, and fierce winter storms make Utah winters an adventure that you-and your house-need to prepare for.
With a little preparation, you can winterize your home so that the thick ice and biting winds don’t damage your property. Prepare your house for Utah’s winter by following the steps on this checklist.
Step 1: Install Insulated Windows
Did you know that you can save money on your utility bill by simply installing insulated windows? You may notice that you feel chilly when you stand next to windows in your house. Glass is a terrible insulator and lets warmth leak out into cooler areas.
Insulated windows are made of double-paned glass that sandwiches an insulating, see-through material. These windows keep warmth in, so you don’t have to overuse your furnace just to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. You’ll save money on your heating bill and your home will feel cozier. Contact your glass specialist for more information.
Step 2: Install Storm Windows, Caulking, and Weatherstripping
Should warm air from your home leak outside-or bitter cold air find its way inside-your home’s internal temperature could feel more than a little chilly.
If you decide not to install insulated windows, make sure that you replace your window’s summer screens with storm windows. Storm windows improve insulation and eliminate drafts from entering your home, and they’re incredibly durable-perfect for the extreme storms that sometimes sweep down from Utah’s mountain ranges. Your window specialist can help you fit your storm windows.
Feel along the edges of your windows and doors for moving air, and caulk and weatherstripping any areas that let air in or out. If your windows and doors are lined with wood, check to make sure it hasn’t become warped or damaged by moisture and that there is no rot.
Step 3: Run a Thorough Heating System Check-Up
You need your heating system to be in prime condition so that your family stays comfortably warm when temperatures drop, and so you don’t waste money on an inefficient system.
After ensuring that your thermostat, heating pump, and furnace are all working and in good condition, change the air filters in your furnace. A clogged, dirty air filter will cause your furnace to overheat and stop blowing warm air, and your home will get cold quickly.
Step 4: Unclog Your Roof, Chimney, Gutters, and Downspouts
If there are bird nests in your chimney, leaves and debris stuck in your gutter, or loose or broken shingles on your roof, snow and ice can build up in the dammed areas and cause serious damage to your home.
Make sure that your gutters and downspouts are completely free of dirt, leaves, nests, and other debris. Inspect your roof for damage that might let water into your home or redirect it in a dangerous way. Use a high-pressure water hose to clear debris and ensure that water drains where you want it to go.
While you examine your chimney, make sure that there are no holes or cracks in the structure. Cold drafts and water can enter your chimney through even the smallest of cracks, making it difficult to heat your home.
Step 5: Prepare Your Yard
Your home’s exterior is exposed to extreme conditions during the winter, but you can prevent burst pipes, a dead lawn, and other inconveniences by doing the following:
- Empty your sprinkler system of excess water. Turn off the water supply and blow compressed air through the lines. This step removes excess water so that it cannot freeze and burst your pipes.
- Aerate your lawn.
- Trim overgrown branches. Windstorms and ice can break large and small branches from trees and bushes, and falling tree limbs can cause serious damage to a home. Also trim plants away from your foundation-wet leaves, soil, debris, and plants can cause serious damage to your home’s foundation.
- Clean, cover, and (if possible) store patio furniture.
- Clean the outside air conditioning unit and its cover.
- Ensure that rain and snow drains away from the house. You may need to install a storm drain or another downspout to direct moisture away from your home’s foundation.
Also rake up leaves, trash, and branches. Decomposing, wet debris can make for a difficult clean-up in the springtime, and excess moisture can damage your yard and foundation.
Step 6: Prevent Burst Pipes
Burst pipes are one of the most common winter-related problems for Utah homes. Flush your hot water heater to remove sentiment and dirt, and always allow your faucets to drip slowly during the night when temperatures drop significantly. The running water will help prevent your pipes from bursting.
Always insulate any exposed piping in your home and yard by wrapping the pipes in electrical heating tape and foam insulation or an insulating blanket.
As you prepare your home for winter, consult with your window and glass specialist and other professionals. They can help you to install the necessary winter accessories to keep your home warm, comfortable, and safe this winter.