Keeping your home protected is a year-round job. After a hot summer and a rainy, leaf-ridden fall, your home needs additional care to ensure it’s ready for winter’s freezing temperatures and potential ice or snow.
Winter protection can help safeguard against any major home repair or maintenance issues in the coming year. Even in a newer house, you should do a thorough inspection to make sure your home is protected from colder temperatures and winter storms.
These 5 tips address problems areas in your home to ensure you’re ready for the winter months.
1. Properly Insulate and Ventilate Your Attic
Icy buildup on your roof, soffits, or gutters isn’t just bad for your home—it can be a safety hazard. Ice can easily become dislodged and fall on people or pets below.
The most effective way to prevent ice from forming on your roof is to keep your attic well-ventilated and cool. When your attic gets too warm, it melts any snow that has accumulated above. That snow melt eventually refreezes in the form of ice dams (which is when ice forms in your gutters) and icicles.
If your attic isn’t insulated well, consider this your first winter-prep task. You can either hire a professional to blow in fiberglass insulation above your ceilings, or buy some rolls of batt insulation and tackle the job yourself. Remember to take special care not to cover your soffit vents!
2. Install Pipe Insulation Sleeves
Burst pipes are an all-too-common occurrence during the winter months. When freezing temperatures surround your home, they travel through exterior faucets into every pipe that stems from them. Frozen pipes are incredibly susceptible to pressure increases and eventual bursts, which can flood your home and cause expensive water and ice damage.
Install foam insulators on all your exterior faucets to stop freezing temperatures at the source. Take things further and insulate all exposed pipes around or underneath your home to provide the strongest protection against broken pipes.
3. Check Doors and Windows for Infiltration
The fastest way your home will lose heat this winter is through infiltration. Tiny gaps in cracked window and door sealant allow cold air to get into your home and warm air to leak out. Inspect each of your doors and windows for any visible damage, or feel around the seams on the interior to see if you can detect any hint of a cold draft.
If you find obvious points of infiltration, you can re-caulk the seal, install film insulators, or replace the window entirely. The problem could be with the window or door itself, which you can only identify if there is visible damage or if repairing the seal doesn’t fix the problem. For older homes with original windows, you might consider replacing them before temperatures drop too low.
4. Home Energy Audit
Most local utility companies will perform an energy audit on your home for a few hundred dollars. They will conduct a thorough inspection and give you expert advice on how to best protect your home from cold temperatures and rising energy costs.
Since these audits vary based on location, be sure to contact the energy or utility company directly to see what their audit involves and how much it will cost. Sometimes just the peace of mind of knowing an expert has looked at your home is enough to make the audit worth the price.
Energy.gov gives homeowners additional guidance on how to prepare for an energy audit in your home, and tips on doing your own at-home assessment.
5. Make Sure Gutters and Downspouts are Clean
Clogged gutters and downspouts can mean problems for your home’s exterior. Eventually, those clogs get saturated with rainwater and can freeze. Once this happens, ice dams can form, preventing proper drainage of snow and ice melt.
When water can’t leave your roof, it tends to go in places it shouldn’t (soffits, eaves, under your roof, inside your home).
When this water eventually freezes, it expands and can cause cracking, delamination, and the potential for more leaks in the future. Cleaning your gutters requires nothing more than a bit of elbow grease, a ladder, and a pair of gloves, and should be one of the first things you take care of before winter takes hold.
Every homeowner can prevent extensive repairs and costly remodeling fixes by preparing for harsh weather ahead of time. Want more tips on getting your home ready for severe weather? We’ve also put together this Storm Season Guide, so that your home is safe and protected year-round.