How to Winterize Your Home and Yard – Tips to Prep Your Property for the Cold Season – Inside and Out

Updated March 16th, 2023

When temperatures start to drop, and leaves begin to fall, it’s a sign we’re transitioning into the colder months. It’s also an indication that it’s time to ready your home and yard for winter.

Winterization is an important step for all homeowners, and if neglected, it can result in high energy costs and even damage to your property.

Here are seven tips to help you get your home in tip-top shape for the season.

Seal Up Windows, Doors, and More

Cool air can make its way into your home through even the slightest cracks. To combat the cold, you can apply caulk where there are visible gaps. Use this on your home’s siding if you come across any cracks there as well.

Replacing the weatherstripping and seals around your windows and doors is another effective way to prevent heat loss. If you really want to go the extra mile, have storm windows and doors installed for further protection?

Have Your HVAC System Serviced

Routine maintenance is essential to your HVAC system working optimally. After a long, hot summer, your filter likely needs to be replaced.

Schedule service with an HVAC contractor near you to ensure your units are running properly and ready for whatever winter has in store. If you need a new HVAC installation, now is the ideal time to get it done, so you can avoid a tough – and uncomfortable – situation later on.

Adjust Your Thermostat

The Department of Energy recommends you set your thermostat to 68 degrees in winter. Dialing it back seven to ten degrees while you’re asleep or away from home, though, can help you save on costly utility bills.

Many homeowners have made the switch to programmable thermostats, so they can customize their heating schedule and then forget about it. This way, your system won’t run when you don’t really need it, ultimately contributing to both your comfort and efficiency.

Prevent Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes are nothing to take lightly. They’re susceptible to bursting and can quickly become a homeowner’s worst wintertime nightmare. To protect your pipes from freezing, take note of these tried-and-true practices:

  • Outfit exposed pipes with pipe insulation, as they’re more likely to freeze.
  • If the temperature drops below 32 degrees, open a few faucets around the house just enough so there’s a small stream of water. This will keep water moving through the pipes and stop freezing in its tracks.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors where plumbing can be found to encourage warm air circulation during freezing temperatures.
  • Outdoor sprinkler systems and garden hoses should be drained after the growing season. Be sure to remove hoses from their faucets and store them away until next spring.
  • Know where your main water shut-off valve is located in case of an emergency. Typically, this is in a basement or crawl space, but you also may be able to find a ground-level utility box at the edge of your property where the water main begins.

Check Your Gutters and Roof

Fallen leaves, sticks, and other debris pile up in your gutters and on your roof, blocking proper water runoff if not cleared out. Clogged gutters in winter mean ice and snow can over-accumulate, resulting in what’s known as an ice dam. Because of this, water can seep through your roof and cause damage to your home’s interior.

This isn’t a one-and-done thing, though. You also need to check for buildup throughout the season to prevent ice dams.

If you want to spend less time cleaning your gutters, you may consider investing in gutter guards. These still need occasional maintenance but will significantly reduce the amount of debris that collects.

Clean Up the Yard

From your patio to your garden, there are winterization tasks to tackle all across your yard. Some of these include:

  • Trim and mulch your lawn, bushes, shrubs, and hedges. Plants that are more vulnerable to the cold should be wrapped in burlap or some other covering.
  • Trim trees to remove dead limbs and branches ahead of winter storms. It’s also a good idea to add mulch around their bases for better moisture retention.
  • Clean up lawn equipment like mowers and string trimmers before putting them in storage for the season.
  • Place grills and patio furniture under weatherproof covers to protect them from the elements. It’s even better if they can be stored away in a garage or shed. Keep in mind that if you have a gas grill with a propane tank it should stay outside. You’ll need to close the tank valve before disconnecting the tank.

Be Ready With Winter Weather Tools

Last but certainly not least, it’s essential your winter weather tools are ready to go before there’s even a slight chance of snow in the forecast. You probably haven’t looked at your snowblower or salt supply in quite a while. Reacquaint yourself with what you have and check that any equipment is working as it should.

In addition, make sure these items are easily accessible. You don’t want to wake up to a foot of snow one day and not be able to get to a shovel. While a smaller step on your winterization to-do list, it’s one of the most crucial.

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