When the nights close in and the temperature drops, it's tempting to skip preparing your home for the winter. If you choose to slack off, you're leaving yourself wide open to mid-winter HVAC equipment breakdowns, expensive repairs around the house, and needless stress for you and your family. However, with a bit of effort and a couple of days of work, you can avoid potential problems if you follow our home prep winter checklist.
Checklist for Preparing Your Home for Winter
- Protect exterior wood and seal hard surfaces
Moisture and freezing temperatures are unkind to wood surfaces, as it causes the wood to expand and sometimes bend and fracture. Mold and mildew will also thrive inside the pores during the winter.
You can protect your wood before the start of the season by pressure washing it to remove contaminants, followed by caulking any gaps and cracks. Once that's done, protect the surface with paint or a sealant, such as polyurethane. Look after masonry and hard surfaces too by using a sealant to cover up the pores and protect them against moisture ingress over the winter.
- Check roof for leaks
Your attic is the first place to check for roof leaks. The easiest way to spot any holes is to turn the lights off and look for any specs of daylight coming through the cladding, insulation, or membrane. If you see mold on the floor or anything that looks water damaged, it might be a sign of a leak. Whatever the cause, get it repaired ASAP.
- Trim trees
Tree branches sag when snow and ice pile on them. If they break off or even just rest on your roof, the weight can cave it in or crack tiles and shingle. You also risk rafter rot or leaks caused by water dripping from branches. So, make sure to groom your trees regularly and stop them from dangling precariously over your roof!
- Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases in winter as we close our windows and other ventilation sources to keep ourselves warm. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over one-third of CO-related deaths occur between December to February. You can eliminate the risk by installing CO detectors and maintaining your existing ones with a fresh set of batteries. Also, have your oil and gas furnaces inspected each year. Contact our team of certified technicians if you’d like us to check your furnace in preparation for winter.
Install, inspect, and maintain your smoke detectors too. The National Fire Protection Association says that candles cause more than a third of fires at home during the holiday season.
- Insulate water lines, check drainage, and clean your gutters
When water freezes, it increases by up to 9% in volume and can generate over 100,000 psi of pressure on a surface. This increase in volume and pressure means that water lines can crack in winter, especially blocked ones. Install insulating foam pipe sleeves and pipe wraps on any exterior plumbing, including underneath your home and inside unheated attics. The insulation will protect them from the cold and eliminate the risk of costly ice-related damage.
- Blow out sprinklers
Winterize your irrigation system by blowing out your sprinklers. To do this, you need to remove all the water from your tubes by blowing high-pressure air through them using an air compressor. Doing it this way is preferable to the automatic or manual drain method, as the compressor air is guaranteed to eliminate every trace of water from your system.
Don't forget to prepare your garden and lawn too. Check out this handy "getting gardens ready for winter" guide by The National Gardening Association.
- Check your HVAC system
From cleaning your chimney to lubricating blower motors and inspecting your gas fireplace vent, there's a lot to do. For many homeowners, it's the most time-consuming and technical step in this list. Here’s an in-depth view of how to prepare your HVAC for winter.