Winterize Your Home Before the Cold Arrives!
So you’ve found your winter attire in the bottom of the closest and have stocked up on your favourite hot drinks and soups.
You are ready for below zero temperatures, but what about your home? Is it ready to endure the cold months ahead?
‘Winter is coming’ they say, not just in Game of Thrones, but also in Calgary, and there’s no telling how soon or how late it will arrive.
As a home owner, it’s important that you take precautionary steps in order to prevent damage and add comfort to your home during winter. So, here are 20 ways you can winterize your home before it’s too late. Also see:
#1 – Inspect your home for leaks / cracks
Inspect your home’s interior and exterior for any cracks or leaks. Usual culprits of cracks and / or leaks:
- window sills
- concrete foundation
- stucco exterior
- broken window latches / locks
Seal these using the appropriate method. For caulking, remember that it’s done ideally in a warm ambiance. Make sure to check what the best way is to caulk any leaks you find in your home first online or with your local home department store expert first.
#2 – Add a layer of insulation in the attic
If your home gets unbearably cold during winter, try adding a layer of insulation to your attic.
If you are putting more insulation on top of an existing layer, make sure you don’t use a type of insulation that acts as a vapor barrier. This could cause moisture to build and result in the growth of mold.
#3 – Apply window coverings
Consider covering your windows with plastic insulation. Insulator kits are found at home department stores such as RONA and the Home Depot and are an affordable means to prevent heat from escaping through your windows.
If you want to go an extra step, you can tape up some bubble wrap as well. You’re friends and family might think your some kind of crazy, but you’ll be saving money on the heating bill so who cares!
#4 – Test your furnace
Put your furnace through its paces before the cold comes by turning it on. There will be a strange, short-lasting smell; simply aerate the area to remove the smell.
If the odour persists, turn it off and call a furnace professional to come and look at it. There may be something wrong and it needs to be fixed as soon as possible!
There’s no substitute for checking and maintaining your furnace. It may very well be the most important aspect of winterizing your home before the cold.
#5 – Get a furnace inspection / cleaning
It’s never a bad idea to have your furnace inspected and cleaned on an annual basis as is. Doing so makes sure your furnace is in tip top shape for many winters to come.
#6 – Buy furnace filters in advance
Stock up on furnace filters and check the one that’s being used regularly during the winter. A dirty filter will impede the efficiency of your furnace as air flow is restricted, and in dire cases could cause a fire.
Different filters need to be changed at different intervals, but its usually somewhere between every two to three months. Many people switch the filter every six months.
If you choose to do so in six month intervals, you’ll probably have more dust on the shelves than if you were to do so every few months. Just saying.
#7 – Consider replacing your old furnace
If you’re furnace is outdated, upgrading to a new on may be ideal to save money over the long haul. It will also keep you warmer over the cold winter to come.
Old furnaces can use up to 50 percent more energy than new ones and don’t warm your house as effectively. A healthy furnace is key to winterizing your home before the cold!
#8 – Clear your eaves trough
Get on the roof carefully with your tool of choice (a spatula, broom or even your hand with a set of gloves works great) and remove clutter from your eaves trough.
If possible, grab the hose and spray out any remaining residue assuming that the weather outside isn’t cold enough to cause ice problems along your walkways.
Cleaning your eaves trough will prevent ice blockages which may cause snow and water run off to drain towards the foundation of your house. Pools of water in such areas can freeze and cause foundational problems that are super expensive to fix.
#9 – Inspect your roof
Having blockage in your rain gutters can cause water to accumulate and freeze, causing ice dams that can create unwanted water flow and intrusion into the base structure, window sills and attic.
#10 – Point drain pipes away from the base structure
Make sure your gutter spouts drain and carry any of Mother Nature’s precipitate well away from the foundation of your home.
As mentioned above, water collecting in the ground near the concrete foundation is a threat to the structural integrity of your home.
#11 – Know where your main water valve is
Make sure you know where the main water switch is in case of an emergency. If you plan on leaving your home for an extended period of time, turn the heat up a little bit. It might be -15 Celsius one day but drop to -30 Celsius the next, so that added heat will help prevent pipes from bursting.
Also, remember to check with your insurance company on what your exact policy is. Being away from home for an extended period of time without someone checking your place on a regular basis can void your insurance in the case of frozen pipes or other winter weather related issues occur.
#12 – Drain your pipes
Drain any air conditioners you might have. If there is a water shut off valve for your air conditioner, close it.
Also drain all pipes leading to outdoor water faucets as well as any garden hoses you might have.
Irrigation systems also need to be blown with clean with air so that water doesn’t accumulate and crack the pipes in sub-zero temperatures. This is an expensive fix you don’t want to pay for!
#13 – Wrap exterior pipes with insulation
If your home has any exposed outdoor plumbing, wrapping the pipes in insulation will go a long way in preventing any freezing from occurring.
#14 – Check your winter equipment
Replace any worn snow shovels and brooms. Also consider getting an ice scraper to remove that nasty ice on the driveway / walkways that we’ve all had a nasty experience with at one point or another in our lives.
Also, don’t skimp on buying the best snow shovel. The ergonomic design and best materials used by the more expensive shovels are worth the extra expense and will save your back and make the job easier.
#15 – Buy de-icer and sand
Stock up on some bags of sand and ice melt to spread on your walkways. You’ll have a much less likely chance of getting sued by your friends and family. Just kidding!
Some jurisdictions also have bylaws that require you to remove snow and ice from your walkways and any sidewalks along your house’s perimeter. De-icer helps melt tough ice that is otherwise hard to remove.
#16 – Install a car starter
Consider installing a car starter if you don’t have one already, especially if you park outside. There’s nothing better than starting your ice-cold car up before getting inside of it every morning!
#17 – Clean your garage
Consider de-cluttering your garage so that you can park your car inside while allowing yourself to walk comfortably without slip and trip hazards that come with having wet shoes and slushy floors.
#18 – Buy some survival gear
You never know when an outdoor storm could cause issues with electricity in your community. Buy some lighters and/or matches and some candles so you can see in the dark in case of a power shortage.
You could also consider purchasing back-up generator to protect yourself from living in the dark for a while. This also goes if you have a fish tank; your fishes can’t live too long without electricity that helps oxygenate the water they live in.
#19 – Put utilities on your contact list
Have the phone numbers of your utility providers handy; inside the front page of the phone book perhaps or on the whiteboard beside the phone.
#20 – Stock up on non-perishable food and water
Stock up on non-perishable food and water as well as a first-aid kit and blankets. Have an evacuation plan in case of an emergency situation. You just never know if you’ll need them or not!
Here’s a list of non-perishable food items that are relatively healthy.
#21 – Reverse your ceiling fans
Reversing your ceiling fans into a clockwise direction will push warm air downwards and help to circulate this air around the room. This is an easy method to winterizing your home for the cold and can cut heating costs by up to 10% in some instances.
Learn how to reverse your ceiling fans here.
#22 – Install a programmable thermostat
Did you know that on average every degree you lower your home’s temperature during winter you’ll save a very small percentage – about 1% – on your heating bill?
Programmable thermostats sense and adjust your home’s temperature accordingly. If reversed ceiling fans and sealed cracks are having a positive warming effect on your home, your programmable thermostat will react and help save you some coin.
Stay warm folks and enjoy your winter!