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Winterizing Your Home

When cold weather is approaching, you'll want to check to make sure your home is ready for the cold temperatures. And if you do not plan to use your home or cabin during the winter months, follow these  guidelines to winterize your home and save money on utilities.

Inside Your Home

  • Have your furnace system serviced to ensure it's working efficiently and not emitting carbon monoxide.
  • Clean permanent furnace filters and replace paper or disposable filters.
  • Replace the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • If you have a wood stove or fireplace, have your chimney swept thoroughly. It should be cleaned before the soot build up reaches one-fourth inch thickness inside the chimney flue.
  • Check your water heater for leaks and to maintain the proper temperature setting. (120 degrees is recommended by Department of Energy. On older water heaters with less insulation, for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit you lower the temperature, you save 6 percent of your water heating energy.)
  • Check the attic to see if insulation needs to be added or replaced. This is the most significant area of heat loss in many homes so it is also important to see that it has proper ventilation. Inadequate ventilation could lead to premature deterioration of the insulation materials. You may also need to check insulation in exterior walls, crawl spaces and along foundation walls.
  • Check all windows and doors for air leaks. Install storm windows and putty, caulk or add weather stripping as needed.
  • Check basement and cellars for seal cracks or leaks in walls and floors.
  • Make sure all vents are clean and operating properly.
  • Clean and vacuum baseboard heaters, heating ducts and vents.
  • Remove or winterize air conditioning units.
  • If you will be turning off the heat to the building(s) for the winter months, drain the water heaters, toilet tanks all plumbing and appliances. Pour (RV-Type) pink colored antifreeze in all toilets, drains and traps to prevent freezing.

Outside Your Home

  • Store or cover outdoor furniture, toys and grill.
  • Purchase rock salt for melting snow and a shovel or snow blower if you don't already have one. Make sure you have the right kind of gas and oil on hand for your snow blower in the case of an unexpected snowstorm.
  • Caulk joints and minor cracks on exterior walls and siding.
  • Look for deteriorating finishes. Minor problems can be patched to preserve the wood. Put bigger jobs, such as scraping and refinishing painted or stained areas, on the calendar for next spring or early summer.
  • Drain and shut off sprinkler systems and other exterior water lines to avoid frozen and broken pipes. Leave all taps slightly open.
  • Insulate exterior spigots and other pipes that are subject to freezing if they can't be drained or shut off.
  • If you have a conventional septic system, rake your leaves and spread them over the top of the earth in the area above the septic tank to help keep it from freezing. This may be important in years when there is less than typical snowfall. 
  • Clean storm drains, gutters and other drain pipes.
  • Check the foundation for proper drainage. To do this, spray yard with a hose to see if water runs away from the house. A little shoveling to reshape the earth next to the house will help the water run away from the foundation.
  • Make sure soils or piles of wood don't come into contact with or touch siding, inviting termites and carpenter ants into the house.
  • Seal driveway and walkway cracks, if needed, before evening temperatures start to dip below 60 degrees. 
  • Inspect the roof for loose, damaged or missing roofing.
  • Check attic vent openings for nests or other blockages.