A Checklist to Winterize Your Home (and Save Money!)
As a Kansas City home inspection company, our team encounters a lot of preventable damage caused by winter-specific issues. While a little snow or cold air might seem like a small problem you can live with, they can lead to larger damage and repairs that may have been otherwise prevented with a little preparation and maintenance.
In the fall, while you still have a few nice days, it’s a great time to prepare for winter. Winterizing your home not only helps save you money, but also helps keep your home in tip-top shape. By following these few simple steps to winterize your home, you can keep your home looking beautiful and cut down on costs – both with utilities, and repairs.
ACE Hardware has a great quick video on tips for winterizing.
A simple checklist for winterizing your home:
- Caulk around windows. Any cracks in seals can allow warm air to escape and cool air to enter; caulking should be replaced periodically anyway so now is a great time to patch holes!
- Protect your pipes. Frozen pipes can cause burst pipes which are expensive and damaging. By sealing any empty spaces around the basement or crawlspace, ensuring proper insulation is present, and installing storm windows over basement windows, you can help prevent your pipes from freezing.
- Replace weather stripping around doors. Like caulking the windows, replacing weather stripping around doors helps to keep air from coming in and out of the house.
- Clean out gutters and clean up the yard. Excess leaves and debris will keep your gutters and drains from draining properly, which becomes a big problem with all the snow, rain, and ice we get in KC.
- Check your vents. Cleaning out the vents in your attic (whether via air compressors, dusting tool, or vacuum) will help keep the air flow unobstructed. Clogged vents can cause moisture to form and freeze on the roof sheathing. And once it melts, you guessed it, it can cause moisture damage.
- Lower the water heater temperature. Lowering the temperature of heated water helps to save on your utility bills – 120 degrees is the recommended temperature from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Slope drainage away from foundation. If water stagnates and freezes around your foundation, it will start to crack the foundation which is not cheap or easy to fix. By sloping drainage away from the base of your home, whether with dirt, piping, ramps, etc., you can prevent big foundation problems and leaky basements.
- Change your furnace filter. Dirty filters make your furnace work harder to heat the home. Filters should be changed regularly, and monthly during cold seasons. If you’re worried about your furnace, get it serviced or inspected before the cold hits.
- Use safer ice melts. Avoid ice melts with sodium chloride – they can damage concrete finishes. Instead, use melt blends with potassium, calcium, or magnesium chloride.
- Thermostat: lower the temperature and/or get a programmable device. By setting your thermostat a little bit lower, you will save a surprising amount on your utilities. Typically, you can leave it at 55 degrees before worrying about freezing pipes. Programmable devices help establish a range for your home temperature and can even set it to be colder while you’re sleeping or while you’re at work, and then warm up in time for you to get home.
- Buy a generator or perform maintenance on your current one. Having a backup generator, especially if you live in an area with a lot of inclement weather (like Kansas City!), can literally be a life saver. If you don’t have one, watch for sales around the holidays or for rebate opportunities. If you do have one, make sure to do a test run prior to any storms to make sure it’s in working order.
- Store outdoor items like grills, plants, etc. Make sure to bring in any plants or other items you have outside that could be damaged by the cold, storms, or ice.
By following these easy steps to winterize your home, you’ll be all set for winter! If you’d like an inspection to spot potential red flags in your home or a home you are buying, contact us today or schedule online any time.