The Ultimate Home Winterization Checklist to Protect Your Home This Season

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The fall season is the perfect time to start protecting your home from winter weather. Having a home winterization checklist makes the process fast and simple.

Many of us scramble to close foundation vents and waterproof outdoor spigots when harsh weather is predicted. However, without a plan, we tend to forget small details. 

There’s an easier way – use a home winterization checklist and schedule the maintenance over a couple of weekends. To help, here is the ultimate home winterization checklist, complete with tips for winterizing your home like the pros. 

Start With a Walkthrough

Perform a walk-around inspection. Take your phone or paper and pen with you. If you see anything on the following list, make a note to investigate further. 

Southern cities like Atlanta and Charlotte get all types of weather, so a home winterization checklist should include checking your windows and doors for leaks, inspecting plumbing pipes, and making sure your roof is in good shape. 

Here’s a list of signs to look for:

  • Missing caulk or trim around windows and doors
  • Missing mortar
  • Mildew, mold, and moss
  • Roof debris from broken shingles
  • Foundation cracks and settling
  • Foggy glass
  • Peeling paint
  • Cracks in concrete pads
  • Wood rot, especially in the cornices
  • Sagging gutters
  • Mold and mildew around your HVAC unit or pad
  • Mold or mildew under your outdoor spigots

These signs indicate openings, leaks, and broken seals that are allowing moisture in and around the home. The National Resources Defense Council says sealing these gaps can save homeowners up to $160 per year.

Tips for Winterizing Your Home on the Outside

  • Install spigot covers or install frost-free spigots
  • Drain your water hoses and sprinkler system
  • Keep your gutters straight and clean
  • Bring sensitive potted plants indoors
  • Close your foundation vents or install automatic versions
  • Check your windows and doors for gaps, fog, and cracks

Get the Roof and Chimney Serviced

Here’s a list of signs to look for on your roof:

  • Curling. If your fiberglass asphalt roof is more than 10 years old, look for curling on the corners of the shingles. Curling indicates that most of the material has worn away, leaving just the backing.
  • Dormer Windows. Inspect dormer windows for missing flashing, foggy glass, and loose caulk and repair as needed.
  • Chimney. Check the roof cement around the step flashing where it attaches to the chimney. Whether your chimney is masonry or wood, it will require flashing where the chimney and roof join.
  • Vent Boots. Vent boots protect and seal the opening that allows vent pipes to extend through the roof. Check for cracks or dry rot in the rubber seal.
  • Clean the Gutters. Clogged gutters cause most wood rot by allowing water to back up underneath the shingles. Especially if your home is surrounded by trees, have your gutters cleaned every winter.
  • Add Drip Edge. If your home does not have drip edge installed, install it. Drip edge is usually purchased pre-formed to slide under the starter shingles and over the gutter. Drip edge helps protect the edge of your roof if your gutters become clogged.

Upgrade Windows and Doors

Upgrading your windows and doors may seem like a large investment, but new windows and doors are one of the few home upgrades that can pay for themselves by saving energy and increasing home value, all while making your home more comfortable.

Old, drafty windows will allow cold air and moisture into the home, which makes the HVAC system use more energy and makes your living space less comfortable. According to the NRDC, “up to a third of a typical home’s heat loss occurs through windows and doors.”

Marvin is a leader in energy efficient design and has a huge selection of window and door types and sizes to meet a range of budgets.

Here’s a checklist for winterizing your doors and windows:

  • Replace any windows with foggy glass, as this indicates a broken seal
  • Seal up cracks or gaps with caulk, fiberglass, or foam insulation rope
  • Add energy efficient drapes, films, and window coverings to retain heat
  • Replace doors with worn out seals that allow air to leak

Prepare Inside the Home

Here are some ways to prepare the interior of your home for winter:

  • Let heat and light in by opening the curtains on south-facing windows
  • Insulate your water heater with a heat blanket
  • Reverse your ceiling fans to circulate warm air toward the floor
  • Use your smart thermostat to lower the temperature at night
  • Seal and insulate the damper on your fireplace
  • Add rugs instead of turning up the thermostat

Don’t Forget Under the House

Winterizing your crawl space with insulation is critical to preventing frozen pipes and cold floors. Crawl spaces must be vented in summer to prevent moisture build up but sealed during winter to prevent frozen pipes. 

  • Foundation Vents. Some vents are self-closing, which means they have a spring or other device that closes the vent when it gets cold. Others must be manually opened or closed from the outside. 
  • When colder temperatures are on the way, close your foundation vents, and reopen them when the threat of cold weather has passed in the spring. 
  • Insulating Supply Pipes. Water supply pipes must be insulated in winter because they are always full of water. Electric heat strips are used in very cold climates to wrap the pipes and retain just enough heat to prevent ice. Avoid wrapping fiberglass insulation with tape as this forces insulating air out, making it less effective.
  • Inspect HVAC Ductwork. If you find small holes, tears, or missing insulation, repair them with foil duct tape. These openings waste energy by leaking conditioned air into your crawl space (or attic). If a duct is sagging between the hangers, it should be replaced. Sagging indicates the duct is full of dirt and debris, effectively reducing its size and efficiency.
  • Fill Small Gaps and Cracks. If you can see light through the foundation masonry or framing, seal them with spray foam insulation. Although small, these cracks and gaps can accumulate and add up to a moisture problem.

Tend to Vacant Vacation Rentals and Second Homes

Vacation rentals or second homes may not be used all year, so leaving the utilities on as normal when the unit is vacant wastes energy. Here’s a checklist for preparing your rental or second home for a period of inactivity:

  • Turn off the water heater. If the water heater is not indoors, drain it.
  • Install a smart thermostat you can check with your cell phone.
  • Drain the water pipes by shutting off the water and opening all of the fixtures.
  • If the home has shutters, close them to protect the windows from birds.
  • Install timers or smart appliances you can adjust with your cell phone.

Don’t turn the power off unless you need to. Leaving the power on keeps the heat, lights, and the security system functional. Set your HVAC system to economy mode to keep the air moving and add just enough heat.

Getting Through a Home Winterization Checklist: DIY or Hire a Pro?

Most homeowners have the skill set to make repairs like painting, cleaning gutters, and caulking. DIYers with more experience may tackle concrete repair, wood rot repairs, and replacing shingles.

Replacing old windows and doors, however, is best left to the professionals. Davis Window and Door has replacement window experts to help you find what you need. Davis Window and Door has the inventory and expertise you need. For a free, no-obligation consultation, click here to schedule an appointment.