Winterization is important. It helps you eliminate drafts and cold spots, reduces electric and gas costs during the winter, and saves you from expensive repairs come springtime. Chances are you already know the basics: fixing up the windows and the doors and sealing up any cracks that you find in the walls or floor. You run through the whole routine, and then you’re done, right? Not necessarily.
There are a few frequently forgotten winterization points that can make a big difference once the ice and snow set in. If you think you’re done with your winterization checklist, go over it again and see if these items are on it. If not, you still have a little more work to do.
Cleaning the gutters isn’t fun, but it has to be done. However, there’s more to prepping the gutter for winter than just getting the leaves out.
While you work on the gutters, check to make sure that they’re still properly attached, tightening screws and reattaching gutter sections as needed. Loose or sagging gutters can collect water, which becomes dangerous once the water starts to freeze.
This is a good time to fix any leaks in your gutters as well. They might just seem like an inconvenience when the rain is leaking through, but once freezing temperatures arrive, those cracks are ripe for ice damage. They’ll be much worse come spring, and may even break if you have a lot of freezing to deal with during the winter.
When you check the gutters, you should also take a look at what condition your roof is in and get it ready for winter. This is especially important if you’ve experienced any strong weather this year because left unattended to damaged or missing shingles are just a bad day waiting to happen. Even if they may not be giving you problems yet, repeated freezing and thawing could give you unwanted leaks by spring.
After you’ve repaired any damaged shingles, head into the house and check the roof from the other side. Look for thin or damaged insulation, replacing it if necessary. If the insulation in your attic is old, it might be worth it to remove it all and replace it with a more modern insulation with a higher R value. Regardless, checking the insulation can help you avoid nasty surprises with your home heating costs.
Under the House
When going over your winterization checklist, did you pay any attention to the space under your house? This area is often neglected, especially by those who have a crawlspace instead of a full basement. It’s not a good place to miss though because most of your plumbing runs under the house, and the last thing you want is frozen, burst, or cracked pipes. Checking your pipe insulation each fall for missing or damaged sections will ensure that your pipes will stay toasty and warm throughout the winter.
You can also keep the space under your home warmer by adding insulation to the doors or access panels. These are your most vulnerable sources for drafts and cold air, so the extra insulation will help you to keep the space under your home warmer. Don’t forget to close off and insulate any crawlspace vents as well.
The garage is one of the most commonly forgotten parts of the home when it comes to winterization. Many people don’t realize that it needs winter maintenance even though it’s not a part of the main living space. Winterizing your garage is especially important if you have an automatic garage door opener because neglect in the cold weather can lead to loss of lubrication on the chain or other moving parts. Take the time to inspect the doors and the opening mechanism, removing any rust and lubricating components as needed.
You should also check the plastic or rubber skirt on the bottom of the garage door for signs of wear. If it is starting to harden or crack, go ahead and spend the money to replace it before winter sets in. A cracked skirt can lead to more air exchange and lower temperatures in the garage, which could result in cooler air entering your house if your garage is connected. A cracked skirt also provides an entry point for rodents and other unwanted pests.
Do you have a picnic table, wooden swing set, wicker chair set, or metal grill? Did you break out the sealant, stain, or spray paint to give them a fresh coat in order to protect them from the elements as temperatures drop? If you didn’t, you’re not alone. Outdoor accessories are often neglected when winterizing because many people think the term applies only to the home itself.
Ideally, accessories should be treated every fall before the temperature drops to avoid drying problems. This will not only help your items to survive the winter, but also protect them from the increasingly intense UV rays of spring and summer next year.