Winterizing your home? Use this checklist
It’s winter, and few places in the country get more excited about winter than those who live in Utah. Of course, you can hike and bike, kayak, and hunt the whole year through in Utah; however, nothing gets people more excited than the winter months and the greatest snow on earth.
If you’re a winter person, you’ve been aching for the snow to fall on the mountains so you can strap on the skis, cinch up the snowshoes and just have a ball in the cold winter months. You’ve spent time in the off-season prepping your skis, boots and bindings, your snowmobiles, your cold-weather camping gear but, have you left something out? Think hard now. Is there something else that needs special attention to prepare for the winter?
How about your house?
Your house stands firm in the elements year upon year with never a change of clothes. Would you wear the same outfit to a beach party as you do to the slopes? If you answer yes, then, well, we got nothing, live and be happy. If, however, you’re not the type to wear only a pair of shorts and a pooka shell necklace to the slopes, you know that the seasons require a change of clothes and some preparation to keep your body safe.
So does your house.
From hot and dry to wet and cold, the season can wreak havoc on your home. With the winter upon us, it’s a good time to give your home some TLC and make sure it has all the tools it needs to survive a cold, snowy, Utah winter. For that purpose, we offer this checklist as a way to help you help your home survive the winter.
A Winterizing Checklist
Here’s an easy checklist to follow that will help your home survive the winter and keep you safe and comfy year-round.
Check the heating system
This should be your first step because whatever else arises, as long as you and your family are warm in the cold of winter, everything else seems more manageable.
If you haven’t used the heating system in a while, turn it on and ensure it is running up to snuff. Along with turning the system on, you’ll want to check the following;
- Air filters & vents. Clean them. For safety’s sake, make sure the heating system is off, carefully unscrew the duct covers and vacuum the ducts as much as possible. Use a broom to reach deep if needed. If you don’t do this step when your heating system turns on, you make blockage, and you will most certainly have dust flying around your house.
- Seasonal Maintenance. Get your furnace tuned up. This is an excellent move for two reasons; first, you can determine if any major problems need to be addressed immediately before it’s too cold. Second, your tune-up will help your furnace run more efficiently, and this is going to save on wear and tear and save you money. A well-tuned furnace keeps you warm and runs longer.
- Carbon Monoxide test. The CDC reports that 450 people die of carbon monoxide poisoning every year. This is preventable. Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, and invisible, and it can come from any piece of equipment in your home that uses gas, oil, coal, charcoal, and wood fuels. Before you start your heating system up, it is vital that you check for carbon monoxide leaks. You can call an expert to run an indoor air quality test, or you can purchase a carbon monoxide gas detector from a home improvement store.
Seal Windows & Doors
Do you feel a draft? Well, that could be from poorly sealed windows and doors. It could also be the air being thrust aside as your money flies out of those poorly sealed windows and doors. Drafty windows and doors allow heat to leave and cold to enter, which can raise your heating bills by about 25%. Best to check those doors and windows before itś time to turn on the heat. The best way to curb heat loss is to add one of these to door and window frames;
- Foam tape
- Door snakes
- Curtains can also be used as extra protection against drafty windows.
Take a trip around the interior of your home and anywhere you feel a draft, find the source, and cover it up.
Get your air conditioner ready for winter
Your a/c may be unemployed during the winter months, but you still need to give it some attention and take measures to prevent it from rusting, freezing, and becoming a night are when the weather warms up again.
Clean it and cover it. The condensing unit should be covered to prevent leaves and debris from taking up residence during the winter. Covering will also curb the encroachment of rust and
freeze the unit’s internal components. Take care of your a/c before the winter cold sets in, and it will serve you well in the ridiculous Utah summer heart.
How’s your roof?
Is your roof showing signs of aging? If so, you’ll want to get on that right away. A poof roof can cause heat to escape, which will cost you money in heating bills. An aging roof can also lead to leaks and water damage, and those could end up costing you serious money for repairs.
Take a look at your roof and check for;
- Missing or damaged shingles
- Flashing around chimneys for spots that may be prone to leakage
- Moss, mold, or rot. These will indicate water damage.
If anything looks troubling, repair it immediately and prevent roof damage from heavy snowfall.
Replace screen doors & windows
A little time-consuming but definitely worth it. Take the time and replace all screen doors and windows with storm windows and doors.
Storm doors and windows provide an extra layer of protection from heat loss, saving you money, but they also protect your primary windows from dangerous winter elements.
Test the generator
If you’re from the northeast, you know how vital a generator is. If you don’t have a backup generator, you may want to invest in one. Few things are worse than the power going out in the dead of winter and having no backup.
If you have a generator, make sure it’s functioning 100% before the cold sets in. If you haven’t used it in a while, do a quick maintenance check on it and check;
- The oil
- Change the fuel
- Clean the equipment
Three simple steps will assure you have the backup power when you need it most.
Have your chimney, fireplace & flue serviced
Every year in this country, 25,000 homes experience a fire due to poorly maintained fireplaces. So, it benefits you economically to inspect your fireplace, but it’s also a safety concern. You need to check the chimney for possible obstructions, like a family of very non-Disney raccoons taking shelter for the winter.
Also, make sure your chimney’s draft is functioning correctly, so fire and smoke are pulled up and out of the house and not the opposite. And, check the bricks in the chimney for gaps and for exposed walls that might be susceptible to rogue sparks that could cause a chimney fire.
Your water pipes need protection
If your pipes freeze, they could burst, and if they do, that’s a whole Magilla of trouble and cost you’ll be dealing with in the cold months. Do not ignore your pipes. Before the depths of winter set in, make sure you insulate your pipes, the ones indoors and outdoors. This includes pipes in your basement, attic, crawl spaces, you know, the ones you don’t think about all the time because they are out of sight. But don’t let them be out of mind.
To insulate your pipes, wrap them with electrical heating tape and then add foam insulation sleeves; this should protect them through the winter.
If you’re leaving home for the winter months, heading off to warmer climes for an extended period, you should consider turning your water off completely. This will help you avoid frozen pipes that could turn into costly mishaps while you’re away. Nothing worse than returning home after wintering in the warmth to discover your home has turned into a water park.
If you have a sprinkler system, you’ll want to blow the pipes and remove excess water before the freeze hits. Over the winter, excess water sitting in pipes can cause cracking in the sprinkler lines.
Pump up the energy efficiency
Minor adjustments to your daily routine can help you keep a more energy-efficient home even during winter. Think about;
- Hot water use: Install hot water-saving showerheads and faucet aerators to lower your energy use
- Unplug: When you’re not using appliances, make sure to unplug them from the wall to cut down on energy costs
- Excess power usage: Turn off your T.V. and the lights in rooms you’re not in to save energy
- Upgrade your energy: Change your light fixtures to LED light bulbs for cost savings.
Even during the energy-sapping winter months, you will be amazed at how these slight adjustments save you money.
The Snow Storm Essentials Checklist
While we’re listing and getting you ready for the winter, we thought it would be good to help you be prepared in case of a long-lasting blizzard. So, here are a few things to have around the house and to do to not only survive a blizzard but to have fun during it as well.
Stock the pantry
In a severe snowstorm, you could be stuck indoors for days, maybe even weeks. Worse, your power could go out, which means you’ll have a limited time to consume everything in the fridge. One way to avoid this get-it-all-eaten quick, gang situation is to stalk the pantry with shelf-stable foods such as:
- Bottled water, at least one gallon per person for three days.
- Canned goods, comforting foods like soups, and stews.
- Snacks, both salty and sweet.
- Canned meats and fish.
- Peanut butter and other shelf-stable nut butter.
- Dried pasta and jarred sauce.
- Wax-sealed hard cheeses. (A winter storm is no place for soft cheese.)
- Salted butter, which survives at room temp longer than unsalted butter.
- Coffee, tea, hot cocoa mix … tiny marshmallows.
- Liquor, if you drink, always cheers the group up.
You should be fine for a few days with that list. But, what if the storm is bearing down and you need to run to the market? Try this;
Last-minute, look there’s the storm, shopping list
You’ll be battling the other folks who have left this to the last minute, but if you stay focused, breathe and have a list, you should be okay. On that list, you’ll want:
- Fresh bread
- Fruits and veggies
- Ingredients for baking projects. Psychologically, the time locked inside feels easier to deal with when the house smells yummy and inviting.
- Adult beverages. Because you’re an adult and you may need a beverage to meet your adult needs.
This list is things that you’ll be saying I wish we had once the power is out, and you have to exit your snowbound house from the top floor windows. Keep the items on hand all winter;
- Battery operated radio
- Back-up energy sources like portable power banks and solar chargers
- Can opener
- First aid kit
- Thermal emergency blankets
- A propane or kerosene space heater rated for indoor use
And there you have it, a few things to think about as the harsh winds and deep snows of winter approach. With these lists, you should be able to be happy and safe, and, who knows, you may even feel like Albert Camus, who said, “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.”
Talk to Revere Homes
Maybe your home needs more than a few touch-ups to survive the winter. Maybe you worry the walls may collapse if Uncle Glen comes over, drinks too many beers, and burps. In that case, forget stocking the pantry and look for a new home, one that will keep you safe and cozy all winter, summer, and fall.
If the choice is moving over buying batteries and praying the roof holds up, talk to the experts at Revere Homes. They have decades of experience putting people into safe and lovely homes. If you fear your current home will end up the subject of a movie of the week this winter, Revere Homes may have the answer you need.