What Is Winterizing Anyway and How Easy Is It for a Homeowner to Do It?

winterizing your home checklistEver notice that you hear a lot more about winterizing your home than “summerizing”? There are several good reasons why:

  • The effects of frigid winter weather inflict far more stress on a structure than hot temperatures and present greater risk of mishaps like water damage.
  • Because the laws of physics dictate that heat energy moves from a warm zone to a colder zone, winter is an ongoing battle against nature and the heat loss that affects indoor household comfort.
  • Economics are more critical in cold weather, too. In many locales, monthly expenses to heat a home in winter are often up to twice the cost of keeping the same house cool during summer. Therefore, energy-saving gains you can make by winterizing pay off in bigger ways.

A winterizing to-do list necessarily includes a combination of DIY chores as well as a few matters that ought to be handled by professionals:

  • Feel for interior drafts around windows, doors and other potential leak locations. These can be repaired yourself by replacing worn door and window weatherstripping and sealing structural cracks and gaps in walls and ceiling with silicone caulk.
  • Check the depth and condition of attic insulation and compare it to online Department of Energy recommendations for your climate zone. If needed, a professional can add more to meet DOE specs without removing existing insulation.
  • Inspect the exterior of the home for large gaps and other openings that admit cold air into the crawl space or exterior walls. Some openings may be sealed with expanding spray foam insulation in a can. You may need a carpenter or handyman to deal with larger openings.
  • Look for exposed plumbing pipes in unconditioned zones like the crawl space and attic. Install foam insulation sleeves on all accessible pipes to prevent freezing.
  • Get an annual roof inspection including gutters and downspouts by a qualified roofer. For safety’s sake, you probably shouldn’t do it yourself.
  • Schedule furnace check-up and preventive maintenance with a professional HVAC contractor. This checkup should include critical safety issues such as venting and ductwork inspection, as well as testing for carbon monoxide.

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