Winterizing Your Home: Protecting Your Investment

cleaning gutters

Winter is fast approaching and with it comes the tendency for many people to hibernate until spring. While you can escape the elements by staying indoors, your home is constantly exposed to the wind, snow and ice that naturally accompanies the season. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do now to protect your home for the weather ahead, helping to ensure your biggest investment stays in great shape for years to come. The good news is winterizing your home for the season doesn’t have to be a financial burden. Here are five easy and inexpensive tips that can go a long way in protecting your home for the cold ahead.

Clean your gutters Free
Cleaning your gutters will allow rain water, sleet, hail and melted snow to flow freely off your roof and away from your house. Leaves and other debris can obstruct the flow of water in your gutters and when the weather gets cold enough to freeze, it can cause pooled water to eventually turn into ice dams and icicles. As the cold presses on, these icicles will continue to grow in size and weight and can cause damage to your gutters and potentially your roof over time. In addition, clogged downspouts can lead to pooling water and ice near your foundation and with the addition of a few sunny slightly warmer days, this can lead to a wet basement. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, block off a few hours to clean out the gutters. This chore can extend the life of your roof and prevent it from cracks or other damage, which can cause expensive repairs down the road.

Replace your furnace filters ~$10 to $20
As a rule of thumb, furnace filters should be replaced every three months, especially if you own pets. Neglecting to replace your filters will cause air flow restriction, making your furnace work much harder than it should. This will decrease heat efficiency, increase energy costs and shorten the life of your heater. Be sure to note the correct direction of air flow when replacing the filter and write down the correct size for your filters. Lastly, remember that the most expensive filters aren’t always the best options. If you have an older or smaller furnace, filters that are very dense (in order to remove allergens, etc.) can restrict air flow and harm your efficiency as well.

Insulate your windows ~$20 to $40
Windows are typically the main culprits for a home’s heat loss, as well as the increase in cooling costs during the summer months. Reasons for this include cracked seals, deteriorating frames and outdated designs. While replacing windows may be a valuable update to increase your home’s value, it can be very expensive and not always a viable option for everyone. Insulating windows can help save up to 70 percent of heat loss for a small fraction of the price of replacements. Plastic film insulation kits cover the inside glass of the windows, keeping the heat inside and they can be installed in just a few hours. Caulking cracks and sealing around the windows as well as adding weather stripping can seal out cold drafts and maintain the window’s structural integrity.

Turn off exterior faucets ~Free
A burst pipe is not something any homeowner wants to deal with no matter the weather, but dealing with the stress and hassle in the dead of winter makes a bad situation much worse. Undrained water in pipes can freeze and cause pipes to rupture if your home doesn’t have frost-proof faucets. A simple solution is to disconnect garden hoses and other outdoor water systems and then turn off the internal valves to these faucets to drain the water thoroughly before the first freeze of the season.

Chimney check-up and cleaning ~Prices vary
Before you build your first roaring fire of winter and cozy up with a good book, be sure to thoroughly inspect your fireplace and chimney for any damage and clean the vents. Clean vents allow carbon monoxide and other harmful elements to properly exhaust and prevents them from entering your home. If you determine an expert is needed, research certified chimney experts in your area before hiring someone for an inspection or any repairs.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so take some time before the snow flies to look around your home and identify any potential hazards that should be repaired or secured before the winter weather is upon us. The little repairs and chores that can be done now could save you from much larger expenses later.