Winterize Your Home 15 Ways

A house surrounded by snow.

What a lovely time of year winter is -- that is, if you're prepared for it. If you're not prepared, winter can be more of a nightmare. Leaky windows blowing in freezing air or roofs that aren't ready for rain or melting snow are definitely not fun and can be very costly to repair if left alone. To keep your winter lovely and not scary, check out these 15 things you can do to weatherize your home.

1. Clean the Fireplace

If you have a fireplace, get it ready for winter by either hiring someone to clean it out or by cleaning it yourself. One of the easier ways to clean the chimney is to get creosote remover and burn it according to the directions. Also, keep the damper closed when it's not in use as cold air will come in if it's left open. If you don't use your chimney, you could get a chimney balloon and this will help keep it sealed up.

2. Check Windows for Drafts

A window with a layer of frost on it.

Check windows for any areas that hot air may escape from or where cold air may come in. Cracks in caulking or weather striping should be replaced or repaired. For windows that aren't insulated or are older, seal them with plastic wrap or consider adding thermal curtains.

3. Apply Weatherstripping to Doors

Check around door frames for any cracks and for light that shows through around the door. Seal these areas with weather striping. Along the bottom, use a rubber strip or draft guard to prevent air from entering or leaving. Draft guards can be used with interior doors as well if a room is being closed off that's not in use.

4. Drain the Water Heater

A water heater and someone holding a wrench.

There's a few tips for your water heater that should be done before winter hits. The first is to drain it. Secondly, wrap any pipes coming from your water heater with insulation tape (for pipes), especially in areas that are not heated by your home. Consider as well adding a hot water heater blanket (do not add to gas water heaters).

5. Insulate Electrical Outlets

This is a good time to insulate wall outlets and keep drafts from coming through these areas. To do this, just purchase and install foam insulators that fit your electrical switches and outlets.

6. Replace HVAC System Filters

An hvac filter.

Have your HVAC system cleaned before winter hits. Also, check the filter and replace if needed. If there's an external component, make sure all debris and dirt are cleaned away from it so it will get the proper air flow needed to operate.

7. Insulate the Dryer Vent

Check your dryer vent on the inside and outside to make sure it is properly fitted and will prevent drafts. You can find insulation and vents that will keep drafts from coming back into the home that are installed both on the inside and outside. This is also a good time to clean it out, which should be done at least once a year to prevent a fire.

8. Clean the Gutters

Leaves clogging a gutter.

This is a very important part of weatherizing your home for winter. Clean your gutters of dirt and debris before winter hits so that when the snow melts the water will run properly through them.

9. Run Fans Clockwise

Ceiling fans are a great way to push air through the home, hot or cold, but they have to be set right for each season to work at their best. To help the hot air flow better in winter, have the fan move clockwise. It's just a switch that you click either on the fan itself of the remote, if you have one. When moving clockwise, it will pull the hot air in and push it back downwards and not back up through the ceiling and out of the house.

10. Close Off the Attic

An attic with insulation.

If you have an attic that isn't used much, cover the entry with a blanket or other insulator to help close it off. Before you do this, though, check to see if it could use further insulation and add if necessary. Insulation in the rafters along the attic floor will help keep the hot air in your home.

11. Cover Exterior Pipes

To prevent plumbing issues you need to cover any exposed pipes, especially if your weather drops below freezing. Disconnect any hoses, drain them, and then place the insulated cover on the spigot. Any exposed pipes should be insulated and a/c units should be covered. Shut off and drain any irrigation used as well.

12. Trim Back Trees

A man pruning trees against his house.

Before snow falls, it's a good time to look for any trees that are overhanging your property or home and trim them back. If you have plants that won't do well in freezing or cold weather, move them indoors or to a greenhouse, or have some plastic wrap and blankets ready to cover them and their roots during a freeze.

13. Seal Foundation Cracks

Take a walk around the exterior of your home and check for any foundation issues, such as cracks or shifting, and for any areas where rodents may try to come in. These areas should be repaired or sealed before snow and rain comes. If you have a basement, check the windows on the inside and outside and, if not needed for light, cover them with insulation, clear wrap, or blankets. Check your basement drain and make sure it's not clogged and will drain properly if there's any rain or snow melt that may come in.

14. Replace Loose Shingles

A roof with shingles in need of repair.

Check your roof for loose or missing shingles and replace if needed. Don't forget to also look around any spouts or chimneys for gaps, cracks, or any missing flashing.

15. Get an Energy Audit

Last but not least, it's always a good idea to get an energy audit. An energy audit will tell you exactly where the issues are in your home that need to be taken care of before winter hits. Most energy audits are free or low cost through your electric company and some offer free or low cost repairs, or even give you the materials to do it for yourself.

Following this to-do list for weatherizing your home will get you well prepared for any weather winter brings. Have any other tips for winterizing your house? Feel free to share them with your fellow DIYers in our comments below.