It's Time for Winterizing Your Home

Photo: Aquascape, Inc./HometalkThanks to the time change, it's starting to feel like the middle of the night all the time -- at least in the northern reaches of the US. That means it's time to start thinking about winterizing your home, which is a task you want to get done before the extreme cold sets in. If you do your prep work now, you'll be snug as a dog at the foot of the bed (no bugs in our rugs, please -- that's what exterminators are for!) while your neighbors are out slogging on last-minute projects.

Here's what to do right now in terms of winterizing your home for the coming season.

Fix concrete 

Concrete often has a tough time in winter, as all that freezing, warming, and water infiltration creates cracks and expands existing ones. Get in ahead of the game: fill existing cracks with concrete sealant, and repair larger ones to even out the surface. Not only will you prevent further damage, you'll also reduce the risk of painful slips and falls.

Small cracks can be caulked. For larger ones, use a concrete patching compound. In both cases, you need a clear, dry day (which is why you need to do this now, not later!) and you should plan not to walk on the cracks for a few days to let them cure completely.

Check that weather stripping

For starters, good weather stripping makes your home more efficient, saving you on both heating and cooling costs. In frigid weather, it will prevent unpleasant drafts while keeping heat inside your home. This means you won't run the furnace endlessly, only to pump heat right out through your windows. Manually inspect all your weatherstripping and replace any that's aging or weathered now, rather than in winter, when you really won't want to be opening windows to mess around with insulation.

While you're at it, make sure any loose sashes are secured, and consider adding a door sweep for added draft control and insulation in your home. If you don't like the look of a door sweep on interior doors, consider a draft stopper: here's a cool guide to making your own!

Inspect your roof

Your roof is your best friend during the winter season, and you don't want to be calling a Houston emergency roofer in a panic because something's gone horribly wrong. Head upstairs on a bright day to look for patches of sunlight shining through the roof. These indicate sites of potential leaks (yikes!). Pay especially close attention around the flashing, one of the most common leak locations. Contact a roofer for a repair estimate to make sure your roof will be dry this winter -- and to stop leaks before they create problems like mold, mildew, and insect infestations.

Take care of your gutters

We've been reminding you to take care of your gutters for a while, but seriously, you need to do it! Take a gander on a ladder to see if the gutters are clear, and get them cleaned out if they aren't. This is also the time to check all gutter fasteners to make sure they're secure, and to replace any damaged or sagging gutter components. There's still time to hang new gutters if you need to, and you'll want to do it now rather than in the snowy season.

In addition, you should check your downspouts or rain chains. Make sure they're clear too, and look to see where they're draining. Are they just dumping water around your foundation? That's a no-no, and you need to create better drainage so they'll flow into a rainwater recovery pool, storm drain, rain garden, or other area.

Check up your furnace 

Before you start firing it up, make sure your furnace is ready to roll. A heating and cooling professional can inspect it, replace any damaged components, and clean the system to confirm it's in good working order. If anything needs to be fixed, now is the time to do it, not in the middle of winter when you're shivering under 16 layers of blankets. If you have a wood-fired heating system, check out our fall chimney safety guide.

Insulate your pipes

If you haven't done this already, get on it! Insulating your plumbing pipes is an important part of winterizing your home. It increases efficiency for greater energy savings, and will also prevent frozen and burst pipes in the winter months. This is basically a win-win for your wallet and your house. Hardware suppliers sell pipe insulation materials, including convenient pre-cut insulation that's a cinch to use.

Get storm doors and windows on now

If you live somewhere with heavy weather, you probably already know about this, but just in case you don't, or you've recently relocated to a region known for winter storms, get your storm doors and window shutters on now. That way, when a warning is issued, all you have to do is close and secure them, so you can focus on more immediate storm prep needs with the assurance that your home is safe and sound.

Katie Marks writes for

Updated September 17, 2018.

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