Home ownership comes with year-round responsibilities, and with colder months just around the corner, it’s time to think about the seasonal steps you can take to keep your home safe, cozy, and in tip-top shape. But before we get to the checklist itself, you should know what winterizing is and why it’s necessary.
Simply put, winterizing is the process of preparing your home for the coldest time of year. The specific preparations vary somewhat depending on what weather is typical in your area, but generally, winterizing requires performing some routine maintenance, checking for potential problems, and stocking up on helpful items. Taking these steps prevents sudden crisis situations and alerts you to potential issues with your home before they’re problems.
Now that you’re more familiar with winterizing as a concept, let’s get into some specific examples. Some of the following items are simple and relatively inexpensive, and others will be more time consuming and costly. If you can’t check off everything on the list, choose your priorities wisely so you can head into winter confidently.
1. Clean and Organize Your Bedding and Linens.
As the temperatures drop, you’ll be piling extra layers on every bed and sofa. Wash all your sheets, pillowcases, blankets, and quilts according to care instructions, then fold and store somewhere easily accessible.
2. Evaluate Your Emergency Supplies.
Make sure you have easily prepared food and water stored away in case of a power outage. And don’t forget to have some everyday essentials stocked like toilet paper and medicines. In some areas, winter weather can be inconvenient or even dangerous. So stay prepared for the possibility of being stuck at home for a few days if the weather makes it difficult or unwise to venture to your nearest grocery store.
3. Clean Your Fireplace and Chimney.
Santa’s not the only one who should be interested in your chimney this time of year; a neglected fireplace or chimney can be extremely hazardous to your health and safety, not to mention your home. You can hire a professional chimney sweep to do the job or evaluate things for yourself.
4. Winterize Your Pipes.
Frozen pipes can lead to extensive water damage and repair costs, but luckily, they’re easy to avoid. Pipes located in basements or crawl spaces can be particularly vulnerable and may need to be insulated. Finally, continue this step outside by storing your outdoor hoses and turning off the valves to outdoor spigots.
5. Protect Against Theft.
The holiday season brings out criminals in full force; some haunt front porches for unattended packages, while others look for homes that are unoccupied while the owner is out of town. Give some serious thought to installing a home security system (or upgrading your existing system). Do some research and find the system that works best for your needs.
Okay, so this one is purely optional, but so much of enjoying your home during winter comes from decking the halls and surrounding yourself with holiday cheer. Decorations can be simple or elaborate, pricey or homemade. Putting up the decorations early can help your house feel cozier as the frigid temperatures arrive, and whether the decorations continue outside is up to you.
7. Clean Up Your Yard.
Put away all your outdoor toys, tools, and furniture before the first snow arrives, then clean up your landscaping and gutters to avoid problems down the road. Your lawn requires some extra steps to make sure it’s healthy come spring, so give it special attention.
8. Prepare for Sidewalk Safety.
If you’re expecting snow and ice in your area, keep ice melt and a snow shovel ready to go. Keeping the sidewalk clear in front of your home isn’t just smart from a safety standpoint, it’s also legally required in most cities.
9. Check for Drafts and Cracks.
Your house’s siding or window and door frames can crack or have their seals broken by weather over time. Inspect all your windows, doors, and siding for problem areas. Resealing leaks in your window frames and door frames keeps your home cozy and can lower your heating bill significantly.
10. Fix Your Roof.
Inches of snow and ice can test your roof to the limit, so plan ahead and avoid sudden leaks. Clear any debris that may have accumulated over previous months, and check for problem areas that could turn into leaks.
There You Have It!
These ten steps don’t need to be a huge source of anxiety, and they can help keep stress to a minimum at this time of year. With a little advanced planning and attention, you can skip sudden emergencies and enjoy a cozy winter at home.