North Texas winters give us plenty of cold days and blustery storms. The end of fall is the perfect time to winterize your house and get ready for the chill of winter. Learning how to winterize a house will help you make sure you and your family are warm, cozy, and comfortable all winter long.
How to Winterize a House: Outdoors
1. Check the Gutters and Your Roof
Whether it’s long, hot summers or those occasional hail and ice storms, North Texas weather can cause major roof damage. No roofing material is immune, so it’s a good idea to check your roof for signs of trouble at least once a year. Look for wear and tear such as loose tiles or shingles, as well as gaps or holes that might lead to leaks. Better yet, have your roof checked by a professional once a year.
As well as this, clean your gutters, making sure every inch is clear of leaves and other debris. This is also a good time to make sure gutters and drainpipes are in good condition—no leaks or cracks, and tightly fixed in place.
2. Prune Trees and Shrubs
Fall is the best time to prune any trees or shrubs that grow next to your house. Check for branches that grow near windows, pipes, or guttering, or any branches that hang over the roof. These should be trimmed back far enough that there are no branches close to or hanging over the house.
3. Protect Outdoor Faucets
To prevent outdoor faucets freezing and bursting, follow these steps:
- Disconnect hoses attached to outside faucets.
- Drain the hoses and store them in the garage or shed.
- If the outdoor faucets have shut-off valves, close the valves and then drain residual water out of the faucets.
You can also wrap outside faucets in old rags or towels and secure it with duct tape.
4. Store Yard Tools and Outdoor Décor
Gather up any yard tools that you won’t use over winter. Clean them, check them over for signs of damage, and store them in the garage or shed. This is also a good time to consider replacing damaged or outdated tools.
Most outdoor décor items are best stored away in the garage or shed. This includes cushions and pillows, umbrellas, and other small items. Some furniture items are safe to leave outdoors, but wicker and wood should be moved to storage.
5. Winterize Your Pool
Keeping up with pool maintenance over the winter means less work getting it ready for summer swimming fun. However, requirements for winterizing a pool depend on the local climate. If you’re not sure what you need to do, talk to your local pool experts for guidance.
How to Winterize a House: Indoors
6. Schedule Fall HVAC and Furnace Check-Up
Your home heating and cooling system needs professional maintenance twice a year to keep it in the best shape possible. This includes the air conditioner system as well as the heating system. The best times for this maintenance are spring and fall so the system is ready to work hard in summer and winter.
Regular professional maintenance is so important because a technician can detect small issues before they become big, expensive problems.
7. Check Household Alarms
This includes smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Test each alarm and install new batteries if necessary.
8. Insulate Your Pipes
If the water temperature in your pipes drops into the 30s or lower, the water may freeze, potentially causing pipes to burst. This can be expensive to fix, not just because it means repairing or replacing pipes, but also due to water damage in the kitchen or bathroom and other parts of your home.
Insulating pipes is the best way to prevent this from happening. Pipe insulation wraps around the most vulnerable pipes to help keep water from freezing and causing burst pipes. Wrapping pipes, however, is not a failsafe. The only way to prevent freezing is to make sure the pipes are kept warm and dry when temperatures fall below freezing.
9. Flush the Water Tank
If your home has a tank-based water heater, the tank runs best when it’s flushed once a year. This is important because sediment build-up inside the tank can reduce efficiency and may affect water quality.
10. Put Ceiling Fans in Reverse Mode
If your ceiling fan has a reverse mode (most do), it’s usually best to have it in reverse mode during the winter. Reverse mode draws warm air down from the ceiling into the lower half of the room and can help save money on heating costs.
11. Install an Attic Door Cover
If your attic door doesn’t already have an insulated cover, then this purchase could be one of the most cost-effective buys of the winter season! An attic cover can start saving you money on heating and cooling running costs as soon as it’s installed.
If you already have an attic door cover, this is a great time to make sure it’s still well sealed and provides a good level of protection. If you need one installed, the HVAC team at CW Service Pros can do it for you.
12. Check Attic Insulation
If you’re installing or checking your attic door cover, take the opportunity to inspect attic insulation. Attic insulation can lose volume over time. This reduces its ability to insulate, so it’s good to check it annually. Make sure there are no gaps or thin spots and add more insulation if there are any patchy-looking areas.
Aside from helping keep your house warm, attic insulation is an important part of preventing ice dams from forming on the roof. Uneven roof temperatures are one critical factor that causes ice dams to form. If the attic is properly insulated, snow will melt off the roof before it can form a dam.
13. Schedule a Professional Chimney Inspection
If your home has one or more open fireplaces or wood-burning stoves, these—and their chimneys—should be professionally inspected and cleaned before the start of the winter season. This is important because a flammable chemical called creosote builds up in chimneys as a natural by-product of burning organic fuels. If there’s a heavy build-up of creosote inside a chimney, a stray spark could cause a chimney fire.
14. Inspect Windows and Doors for Air Leaks
Even tiny leaks and cracks around doors or windows can let in a surprisingly large amount of cold air. If there are leaks around your windows or doors, your furnace has to work harder to keep your home warm. The system costs more to run, and, worse than that, working overtime can wear the system out and may lead to a breakdown.
If you’ve never had a professional energy audit, fall is a good time to consider having one. A simpler solution to locate the source of a draft is to use a lit candle or incense stick. Walk around your home carrying one, and the flame or smoke will react if it’s hit by a draft.
To seal a draft, apply weatherstripping or caulking in the problem areas.
15. Protect Your Plumbing in Freezing Temperatures
Along with the above tips for how to winterize your house, there are extra measures you can take if the weather gets more extreme than usual.
If the mercury drops below 30 degrees Fahrenheit for more than a day or two, there’s a risk that unprotected pipes will freeze and burst. Even if your pipes are well insulated—but especially if they’re not— it’s important to carry out these measures:
- Inside the house, look for areas where there’s plumbing in an outside wall.
- In each area, turn one faucet on, and let it drip slowly.
- Turn your heat up indoors.
- Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get into the area and heat the wall where plumbing is installed.
With these measures, you’ll greatly reduce the risk of pipes freezing, bursting, and flooding into your home.
16. Install a Programmable Thermostat
Love the idea of coming home to a warm home every night but not the expense of leaving the heating on all day? A programmable thermostat could be the perfect solution. These nifty devices let you set your thermostat to turn on or off at any time you set. And some newer models even come with apps that let you turn the heat on when there’s nobody home!
Prepare Your Home for Winter and Stay Cozy All Season Long
Winter means the holidays and hot cocoa, but before the seasonal fun (and any winter weather), take some time out for winterizing your home. Protect it from problems such as frozen pipes or heat loss caused by poor insulation or an overworked heat pump! A little preparation now means you and your family will be ready for winter, no matter how low the temperatures get.
CW Service Pros can help you winterize your plumbing and ensure your heating system is up to snuff, as well as take additional measures if your home will sit vacant for a bit. Call us any time you need us!