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The Home Inspector’s 10 Tips to Winterize Your Home Before Christmas

As the year begins to wind down, so will our temperatures.

Now is a good time to begin thinking about preparing your home for winter.

As the temperatures begin to drop, your home will require maintenance to keep it in tip-top shape as winter approaches and through the winter season.

home winterizing

Did you know there is only one state in the United States where the temperatures have never dipped below zero? Give up? It’s Hawaii. ?By contrast, Louisville’s winter season typically brings a mix of rain, sleet, and snow, with occasional heavy snowfall and icing. Louisville averages 87 days with low temperatures below freezing.

So, here are 10 tips to help you prepare your home for winter.

1) ?Furnace Inspection

  • Call the HVAC to check your furnace and clean duct
  • Stock up on furnace filters and change them monthly
  • Consider switching out your thermostat for a programmable thermostat
  • If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly and when water appears, close them
  • Remove all flammable material from the area surrounding your furnance


2) ?Get the Fireplace Ready

  • Cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds
  • If the chimney hasn’t been cleaned for a while, call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote
  • Buy firewood or chop firewood. ?Store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home
  • Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing
  • Check the mortar between bricks and tuckpoint, if necessary

3) ?Check the Exterior of the House, Doors, and Windows

  • Inspect the exterior for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes,; seal them
  • Use weatherstripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home and caulk windows
  • Replace cracked glass in windows and, if you end up replacing the entire window, prime and paint the exposed wood
  • If your home has a basement, consider protecting its window wells by covering them with plastic shields
  • Switch out summer screens with glass replacements from storage. ?If you have storm windows, install them

4) ?Inspect Roof, Gutters and Downspouts

  • Add extra insulation to the attic to prevent warm air from creeping to your roof and causing ice dams
  • Check flashing to ensure water can not enter the home
  • Replace wornn roof shingles or tiles
  • Clean out the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away debris
  • Consider installing leaf guards on the gutters or extensions on the downspouts to direct water away from the home

5) ? Service Weather-Specific Equipment

  • Drain gas from lawnmowers
  • Service or tune-up snow blowers
  • Replace worn rakes and snow shovels
  • Clean, dry and store summer gardening equipment
  • Sharpen ice choppers and buy bags of ice-melt and sand

6) ?Check Foundations

  • Rake away all debris and edible vegetation from the foundation
  • Seal up entry points to keep small animals from crawling unde the house
  • Tuckpoint or seal foundation cracks. ?Did you know mice can slip through space as thin as a dime?
  • Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation
  • Secure crawlspace entrances

7) ?Intall Smoke and Caron Monoxide Detectors

  • Some cities require a smoke detector in every room. ?Louisville is not one of those cities; but make sure your smoke detector is a 10-year lithium battery or a hard-wired type alarm. ?This is a state law.
  • Buy extra smoke detector batteries and change them when daylight savings end – if you haven’t done this yet, be sure to do it now.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and or water heater
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work
  • Buy a fire extinguisher or replace an extinguisher more than 10 years old

8) ?Prevent Plumbing Freezes

  • Locate your water shut off valve in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency. ?Your home inspector should have shown you the location during the inspection
  • Drain all garden hoses
  • Insulate exposed plumbing pipes
  • Drain air conditioner pipes and, if your air conditioner has a water shut-off valve, turn it off
  • If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, set it to at least 55 degrees

9) ?Prepare Landscaping and Outdoor Surfaces

  • Trim trees if branches hang too close to the house or electrical wires
  • Ask a gardener when your trees should be pruned to prevent winter injury
  • Plant spring flower bulbs and lift bulbs that cannot winter over such as dahlias in areas where the ground freezes
  • Seal driveways, brick patios and wood decks
  • Don’t automatically remove dead vegetation from gardens as some provide attractive scenery in an otherwise dreary, snow-drenched yard
  • Move sensitive potted plants indoors or to a sheltered area

10) ?Prepare an emergency kit

  • Buy indoor candles and matches or lighters for use during a power shortage
  • Find the phone numbersfor your utility companies and tape them near your phone or inside your phone book
  • Buy a battery back-up to protect your computer and sensitive electronic equipment
  • Store extra bottled water and on-perishable food supplies (including pet food if you have a pet), blankets and a first-aid kit in a dry and easy-to-access location
  • Prepare an evacuation plan in the event of an emergency
Stay warm and safe by ensuring your home is ready for the winter season. If you are still not sure, call in a professional to give your home a once-over in terms of winterization tips.