19 Tips to Winterize Your Home

winterize your home

Whether you live in the Northern United States or the Deep South, it is important to winterize your home.

Just consider what happened to Texas in 2021.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), “On February 16 the lower 48 states had snow covering 73.2 percent of its landmass, the highest daily total since record-keeping began in 2003. Texas was the hardest-hit state with sub-freezing temperatures for close to seven consecutive days.”

This freak winter storm caught millions of Texans off guard.

As a result, insurance claims went through the roof.

Insurance Journal claims, “Reporting insurers showed 456,531 insurance claims as of March 31 [2021] and indicated they expected an ultimate payout of $8.2 billion in insured Texas losses from Winter Storm Uri. The bulk of the claims are for damage to residential properties.”

As if the winter storm damage wasn’t bad enough, many of these customers were likely disappointed to discover their damage claims were not covered because insurance companies consider home maintenance a homeowner’s responsibility.

In other words, if an insurance company believes the damage your home experiences in the winter is due to lack of proper maintenance, your claim may be denied.

However, if you winterize your home, you are more likely to receive insurance coverage for any winter damage your home sustains.

Use this checklist to winterize your home just in case. Winter storms happen – even in Texas.

Winterize Your Home Outside

Let’s start by looking at ways to winterize your home outside.

How you protect the outside of your home will affect the inside of your home.

For example, if your roof is already in bad shape, you can’t expect it to hold up well against a winter storm.

As a result, you shouldn’t expect the insurance company to pay for the damage inside your home when the roof collapses under the weight of snow and ice.

Protect Your Pipes

Insulate your pipes to provide extra protection against freezing and bursting – especially those pipes located in unheated spaces, such as crawl spaces.

Drain any water faucets and hoses.

In addition to standard winter maintenance, take preventative steps to protect your pipes if you are facing winter weather, such as shutting off the water supply.

Insulate Doors and Windows

According to Lowes, “Weather stripping or installing storm doors and windows will prevent cold air from entering your home or heat from escaping it, which will reduce your power bills.”

Caulk around any cracks or gaps you find near windows or doors.

Clean the Gutters

Gutters are essential for diverting water away from your home and the foundation, which is why it is critical to clean them before you have to deal with melting snow and ice.

HGTV explains, “While important year round, the value of a functioning gutter system is never more important than it is during the winter months. As ice expands, the damage to fascia can be severe and a cracked foundation may require thousands of dollars of costly repairs.”

If water is unable to drain through the gutters, it will seep into the house causing leaks in the ceilings or walls (also known as ice damming).

Check the Sprinklers

If you have lawn sprinklers, drain the lines and turn the system off until winter has passed.

Install Door Sweeps

If your home has a draft, it is a sign you need to install door sweeps, which seal the gap between the door and the threshold.

It’ll help keep the heat indoors, and it will save you money on your energy bill.

Trim Trees

A significant amount of damage to homes during the winter comes from trees.

Branches break and trees fall due to the heavy weight of ice.

If you have branches directly above your roof, it is wise to trim them to possibly prevent a branch from doing damage to your home.

Get Your Grill Ready

Unfortunately, winter weather is often accompanied by power outages.

Since this is a real possibility, it is smart to take time to get your grill in good shape.

For example, clean your grill and put a protective cover over it.

Your grill should not be left exposed to the harsh winter weather, and you may need it to cook food should you lose power.

Winterize Your Home Inside

There are also things inside you need to do to winterize your home.

By taking steps to make sure the inside of your home is prepared for winter weather, you are one step ahead.

Get Your Fireplace Cleaned

Buildup inside your fireplace is dangerous, which is why it is important to have an annual inspection and cleaning.

In addition to calling for professional cleaning, it is wise to vacuum or sweep out any remainders from last season.

Stock Up on Firewood

During the Texas Winter Storm in 2021, firewood was hard to find.

As a result, some families went so far as to burn their belongings, art canvases, and furniture to stay warm.

People were so desperate that they were going door to door asking if they could take sticks from strangers’ yards to burn.

Avoid this type of nightmare scenario by stocking up on firewood ahead of time.

Check Your Attic

Check your attic for exposed copper piping. If you find some, make sure you insulate it.

This is also a good time to check your attic for any signs of roof leaks.

Purchase Furnace Filters

According to Lowes, “A dirty filter with trapped lint, pollen, dust, etc., obstructs airflow and makes your furnace run longer to heat your home.”
Instead, replace your dirty filters with clean filters.

Experts recommend changing furnace filters every three months.

Put New Batteries in Smoke Detectors

The National Fire Protection Association reports, “Home fires occur more in the winter than in any other season, and heating equipment is involved in one of every six reported home fires, and one in every five home fire deaths.”

They also report, “Heating is the second leading cause of US home fires and home fire injuries and third leading cause of home fire deaths. December, January and February are the peak months for heating fires.”

You don’t want to become one of these sad statistics.

Instead, make a point to put new batteries in your smoke detectors every winter.

Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide poisoning is also a major concern during the winter months.

When communities suffer power outages, many people use generators. Unfortunately, people sometimes use them incorrectly.

According to The National Fire Protection Association, “Half of the generator-related deaths happened in the four coldest months of the year, November through February, and portable generators were involved in the majority of carbon monoxide deaths involving engine-driven tools.”

If you have a carbon monoxide detector, replace the batteries.

If you do not have a carbon monoxide detector, it’s time to install one. 

Winterize the Kitchen Pantry

If ice and snow cause power outages, you will likely not be able to get to the grocery store.

Make sure you stock your kitchen pantry with the following “in case of emergency” supplies.

Food

Stock up on nonperishables, foods that don’t require a refrigerator and meals that can be made with minimal ingredients.

Sources of Light

Make sure you have plenty of flashlights and candles.

Power Sources

Check your battery supply and add to it as needed.

In addition, consider investing in solar power technology, such as a solar-powered weather radio and charger.

Stock Up on Winter Must-Haves

Before the winter weather hits, purchase the necessary winter must-haves.

Be aware that many of these winter must-haves will likely sell out due to continuing supply chain issues.

Propane

According to Bloomberg, “U.S. propane prices are so high and supplies so scarce that the market appears headed for ‘armageddon’ during the depths of winter.”

In other words, don’t wait to buy it if it is available! Make sure you buy extra for your grill. Should the power go out for an extended period of time, you’ll be glad you have extra.

Generators

Even if you live in an area where you feel safe from the threat of winter weather, it’s wise to own a generator.

Many other natural disasters cause power outages, and they are never convenient.

Snow Removal Tools

Make sure you have the proper snow removal tools, including snow shovels and ice scrapers.

Also, have a bag of ice melt salt or cat litter on hand.

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